I was recently watching an Oprah show dedicated to showing people how to be more successful in the kitchen with grocery shopping, meal planning and basic cooking skills. One of the families profiles ordered take-out every night of the week because it was easy and neither mom nor dad knew how to cook. They were spending over $400 a week on food and had no idea that it’s cheaper and easier to cook your own meals. Even beyond that, a family with kids didn’t understand the concept of leftovers. I grew up with leftovers, love leftovers and even cook meals with the thought of making more servings so I have leftovers for another meal. So, in honor of that idiot housewife who only knows how to go through the Micky D’s drive through after a hard day of soap operas and cheering at little Timmy’s soccer game, here are my top seven leftover foods.
7) Chicken, Baked or Rotisserie
Everyone loves chicken and it’s great on it’s own or as an addition to another dish your whipping up. Even if I’m really hungry one night, there’s no way I can polish off a whole Market Basket Chicken, so I always plan ahead, thinking of what I could make with the leftover white and dark meat. Top choices: Fried rice, chicken and broccoli or chicken and vegetable curry.
You’re hosting or are a guest a big party. Tons of finger food, an impressive dinner spread and then dessert on top of that. You know everyone will be full before cake or that they’ll be “watching their weight.” Their loss is your gain. The best part of a birthday party or the holidays is the leftover cake and pie. Sometimes I’ll hold off on one slice of pumpkin pie because I know I’ll be able to have it the next day without anyone else around. Vanilla ice cream and Cool Whip? Oh yea.
Italy’s favorite culinary product comes in many forms–spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli,– and all are equally delicious on the second tasting. Straight leftover noodles serve as a great canvas for a whole new inspired meal while already assembled red sauce and veggie pasta dishes hold flavor whether reconstituted in the microwave or via a quick saute. Add some more fresh grated Parmesan and its like you make it from scratch.
Black Friday is shopping hell but probably the greatest leftover holiday of the year. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce–make those pilgrims proud and go Diesel two days in a row. Assemble the famous “morning after” or “gobbler” sandwich for lunch, then have the same thing for dinner only deconstructed.
It’s a proven fact that homemade soup gets better overnight in the fridge. The flavors have time melt together and become even more intense. Some soups get thicker, some get a nice layer of fat at the top (if you scrape it off, please become anorexic). Microwave or stove, makes no difference. Soup is hearty and a healthy alternative.
2) Pizza, Cold
There is heated debate as to whether or not to re-heat your leftover pizza. I like my leftovers hot, but unless you’re going to do it properly with pizza and use an oven, don’t bother at all. Cold toppings and congealed cheese on top of chewy crust is perfect for breakfast, lunch or late night snack. Remember though, never store in the delivery box itself–air is leftover’s worst enemy. Wrap in foil or plastic tightly for maximum freshness.
Is there any doubt? I know a lot of the deep fried elements of Chinese take-out don’t last over night (crab rangoon, egg roll, etc.), but is there anything better than pulling out those cartons from the fridge the day after and slopping a huge pile of fried rice, lo mein, beef and broccoli and General Gau’s chicken? After two minutes in the microwave all of the sauces have pooled together and the plate just becomes one huge combination of dieselness.