One trick I’ve learned from being a busy homemaker is that leftovers should NEVER get thrown away. Nor do they need to be. Even if you make a meal and you don’t want to eat it again, you can always take your leftovers and spice them up by turning them into something else.
First off, almost anything can be made into a sandwich. Leftover meatballs, chicken, Thanksgiving dinner… you name it, you can put it between two slices of bread. This is a quick and easy way to turn last night’s dinner into the next day’s lunch, and can save you a few bucks that you might otherwise spend at the deli down the street from your office!
Other than sandwiches, here are a few of my favorite meal transformations:
- BBQ pulled pork
I’ve found that the best and easiest way to cook a pork tenderloin is to let it slow cook in the trusty Crock Pot. Coat the pork in a mix of brown sugar, garlic powder and a spoonful of Dijon mustard (or whatever you prefer, but that’s my favorite go-to pork rub), let it cook on low all day, and by the time you get home from work the pork will be literally falling apart. This makes for an absolutely perfect pulled pork. Sure, you can carefully slice the pork loin to have for dinner the first night, but take the rest of it and pull it apart and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce. Suddenly you have a whole new, but equally delicious, meal… or of course, filling for some great sandwiches!
- Pork fried rice
Who says you have to order out to get good Chinese food? Pork fried rice is actually a fairly easy dish to make at home, and when you have half of a perfectly good pork loin left over from last night’s dinner, it’s a great way not to let it go to waste!
BBQ chicken can make a great dinner-lunch combo when you slice up the leftovers and mix it with some lettuce, tomatoes, a sprinkle of Mexican cheese, black beans and corn… add a spicy Ranch dressing (I make my own by mixing Lite Ranch dressing with some Tabasco sauce) for a little kick and you’ve got a delicious and easy salad for your next day’s lunch!
Ever since I got a pizza stone as a wedding gift, I have been obsessed with making my own pizzas. Grab some fresh whole-wheat crust and coat it with BBQ sauce instead of the typical tomato sauce. Throw on your leftover BBQ chicken, along with whichever other toppings you like best- personally, I like to add tomatoes and caramelized onions- and then of course cover it with your favorite cheese. I find that Mexican cheese tends to work best with the BBQ flavors. It makes a delicious alternative to your typical pizza.
- Shepherd’s Pie
Growing up, my grandmother always used to make me Shepherd’s Pie. It became, for me, less of a quick and easy dish and more of a treat. So now, when I have leftover mashed potatoes from time to time, I treat myself and am reminded of those days with my grandmother. And it might be the easiest way to treat myself, since all it really requires is cooking some ground beef with a few spices, opening a can of corn and layering in my pre-made mashed potatoes!
Last but certainly not least is one of the lesser-known uses for leftover mashed potatoes, for an omelet. More specifically, an Italian frittata. Using a small frying pan, combining a few eggs, a little milk, some veggies (zucchini and onions are my favorite) and your leftover mashed potatoes, you’ll end up with an omelet that’s not only delicious, but more fluffy and textured than any omelet you’ve ever eaten before.
The bottom line is, leftovers should rarely, if ever, be thrown away. Didn’t your parents ever tell you about those starving kids in Ethiopia? They weren’t kidding.But leftovers don’t have to be boring, or even the same food you ate before. You can take your left over food and really transform it into a new, equally delicious meal for another day. And of course… they will always be even better if you just add a pinch of salt!