Let’s Dish: Left-overs, friend or foe?

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by Amy Flanigan on February 4, 2009 · 11 comments

As a child, I used to hate left-overs. Nothing compared to a fresh cooked meal, where all the items still had their vibrant color, nothing was sticking together, and the fat hadn’t hardened on top yet.

I suppose that’s still true today. But as an adult, I’ve grown to love left-overs. So much so, that I always make extra for dinner to ensure there’s enough for lunch the next day. Partly because of economic reasons, but partly because some meals actually taste better once they’ve had a chance to “sit” together, allowing all the flavors to blend and congeal.

Having said that, I can’t believe how many times a week I look at my husband and say “you’re gross.” He has absolutely no problem with left-overs. He also has no problem taking that delicious fish taco filling from last night and combining it with the pasta and peas from two nights ago. “Add a little salt and pepper,” he says “and you’ve got a brand new meal.” Yes, Tabasco is his best friend. And did I mention that he eats everything without warming it up? I’m grimacing. Can you see me grimacing?

But I know I shouldn’t complain. I’m actually quite lucky; he loves my cooking, will try anything, and has a pretty diverse palette. And I’ll tell you this – my grandmother, having experienced The Depression, would be proud knowing that nothing goes to waste in this house.

So, I say “friend.”

Do you have a favorite left-over meal? Or suggestions on how to utilize left-over ingredients and create a new meal?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi June 3, 2014 at 1:11 am

If it’s something I can reheat on the stove or in the oven, or make a sandwich out of (meatloaf!), I’m all for leftovers. I don’t like the way the microwave changes the texture of food however, and like your husband, I like a lot of things cold. Maybe it’s genetic because my sis is the same way, or maybe it’s just that we are old enough that we never had a microwave growing up. It freaks my hubby out though that we both love cold pizza, lol.

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Amy @Very Culinary June 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

Cold pizza is so underrated!

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Rachel February 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Friend!! I never ate leftovers growing up, so it’s been kind of a new thing for me now that I’m on my own.

If I roast a chicken, I usually use the leftover meat for enchiladas, or I make chicken noodle soup using any meat and homemade stock from the bones.

Meatloaf makes great meatloaf sandwiches the next day.

Now that I think about it, I make leftover-friendly dinners quite a bit, since Shawn gets home so late from work and we just want something to easily re-heat.

Any kind of pastas and stews I have for lunch the next day too.

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Jennifer February 5, 2009 at 11:04 am

Definitely “friend”! I almost always make four to six servings just my husband and me when I cook. Then I freeze what’s left (if I don’t take it for lunch the next day), so on the nights when I just don’t have the energy to cook (since I cook a fresh meal almost every night of the week), I can pull something out of the freezer and have an meal in 10 minutes (microwave = FRIEND as Jude said). It’s a beautiful thing! I will say, however, I have found some things do not freeze well or work the next day; I will not freeze fish and only make enough for the two of us for one night.

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Carol February 5, 2009 at 9:53 am

Definitely “Friend.” I’m a great fan of leftovers and cannot imagine throwing away so much food. My mother made the best meatloaf and was not only good for dinner but even better in a sandwich for lunch the next day. I never make it because my husband hates meatloaf, but I can still remember the flavor as I speak! Leftover gravies or sauces are especially good for starters in another sauce. Try it sometime.

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Jude February 5, 2009 at 9:35 am

Fair-weather ‘friend’. If it’s a pasta dish that hubby has made and simple enough for me to reheat (microwave = FRIEND), then yes, leftovers for me. Otherwise, savory new meals each evening are one of lifes great rewards.

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Mike February 5, 2009 at 7:50 am

I’m still not huge on leftovers, but I love Thanksgiving leftovers! Mmmmm. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing. I’ll eat ‘em for a week straight and not get sick of them. And as long as you don’t run out of gravy, they just keep getting better. Asian food is always yummy leftover too.

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Sarah February 5, 2009 at 6:54 am

Hm. I’m on the fence, but I would say “foe”. Nothing comes close to fresh off the stove or out of the oven.

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Lisa February 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Friend.

I always have yogurt and honey in the house. And then whenever there is unused fruit, like half a banana or pear, etc., I use them the next day to make smoothies.

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Amy February 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm

OMG! My mom used to do the exact same thing when I was a kid. I’d forgotten… maybe I need to make it myself now.

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Scott February 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Friend. They not only provide a second meal, whether it be lunch or dinner, but it saves you from cooking another night.

I like to take left over spaghetti and sauce, throw it in a baking dish with some butter and bake it for 30-45 minutes. Everyone fights for the crispy parts. And it always feels like a new meal.

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