Hints for Using Leftovers
by Lois Carlson Willand
Reverse Meal Planning
Meal Planning Around Leftovers
Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Work with Leftovers Daily
Check your refrigerator in the morning and plan to use as many leftovers as possible that day.
After a meal plan how to handle the leftovers:
- Freeze cooked vegetables, cooked meat, and vegetable-cooking broth
- Plan to use cooked meat the next day in sandwiches, quiches, tacos, enchiladas, or spaghetti sauce. You may also want to reheat in microwave, or marinate to use in salads.
- Rinse off dressing on leftover green salads and drain, cool quickly, and add to soups or to freezer for soup makings.
- Plan to use leftover fruits as garnish, in fruit cups, or in fruit salads.
Store Food Safely
- Refrigerate cooked foods promptly.
- Store leftovers in plain sight in your refrigerator. Use clear, see-through containers with covers.
- Label foods and mark date of storage.
- Use up leftovers within two or three days.
- Do not trim away mold on food and eat the remainder. All food with mold (except for intentional mold such as with blue cheese or real cheeses) should be discarded.
- If you suspect a food is no longer safe to eat, do not taste it! Follow the adage "When in doubt, throw it out!"
Get Leftovers on the Table the Next Day
- Use it as a garnish or relish: slice raw fruits or vegetables and place on lettuce leaf.
- Use it in a sandwich: slice cooked meats to serve hot or cold, or add sliced fresh vegetables, cover with cheese and broil until cheese melts.
- Put it in a salad: add strips or cubes of cooked meat and raw or cooked vegetables to a chef salad or to a rice, macaroni, or potato salad. Marinate cubes of cooked meat with raw or cooked vegetables in French or Italian dressing for a few hours and spoon into lettuce cups.
- Serve it in a white sauce, tomato sauce, or brown gravy over bread, potatoes, rice or noodles.
- Add it to a casserole, stir-fry dish or quiche, stir into an omelet, or saute with rice.
Serve Leftovers Attractively
- Use bright-colored dishes, napkins or tablecloths that complement your food.
- Add an appetizing garnish.
- Serve with a favorite bread, salad, or dessert.
Have Some Key Recipes for Using Up Common Leftovers
- Make a "Use-It-Up" chowder, croquettes, hash or quiche.
- Find special ways to handle your "problem" leftovers. Notice what leftovers are the most difficult for you to use up, that you most often throw out. Look for recipes that use your problem foods. File the recipes where you can find them easily.
Know When to Throw Away
- Throw it out if you suspect the food is no longer safe to eat.
- Throw it out when preparing the food calls for expensive ingredients or a more time-consuming process than you feel the food is worth.
Shop to Avoid Leftovers
- Buy only the amount of perishable food that you can use up within a few days.
- Use up the perishables in your refrigerator before going on your next shopping trip.
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