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.


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

Cold pizza is so underrated!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Lisa February 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm


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.


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.


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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