If you’ve made it to Day 9 of the 10 Day Eat at Home Challenge, then you already deserve a pat on the back. Has it been rough along the way, or have the last 8 days breezed by you? Whether you’ve been a struggler or a menu planning juggler, today’s tip will definitely make the last two days of the challenge a piece of cake. I will warn you though, giving your leftovers a makeover does require a bit of planning. But like Kati said in on Day 1, “healthy eating is probably 80% planning and 20% follow through.” With a little bit of planning, you can cook only once yet enjoy two different meals because of it. This is great for people who tend to get sick of the same ol’ leftovers night after night.
I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest challenges of eating at home is finding the time to cook. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to make a meal from scratch when life is full of work, errands, and events. This is why giving your leftovers a makeover is such a beautiful thing. You aren’t stuck eating the exact same thing you ate the night before. Yes you heard me right, banish the boredom of leftovers with these 3 simple tips.
Day 9 –> Giving Your Leftovers a Makeover
Tip #1: Start with something simple and delicious. You won’t have to do too much work the following day, if you simply start with a meal that lends itself easily to a makeover.
Meal #1: For example, prepare a simple pot roast with all the fixin’s as your ‘starter’ meal. The beauty of a pot roast is that you can throw a bunch of random vegetables together, and it always comes out tasting marvelous. Be sure to season the meat well, but keep in mind that you don’t want to use anything that is too overpowering.
Makeover: The next day, use the leftover meat to make a deli-worthy sandwich for lunch. This may come as no surprise because surely you’ve all done this before; perhaps with turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving. The key to really making this work is adding in something unusual. You don’t want any old plane-jane sandwich, or you won’t be doing your leftovers justice. Try a flavored spread, or a unique cheese. Try thinking beyond the lettuce and tomato. Even swapping out the whole wheat bread for a nice soft onion roll instead, may do the trick.
Tip #2: Don’t underestimate the power of soup. Whether it’s your starting point or your ending point, soup is an easy entree to craft into a variety of creations. It’s a bit easier to take leftover meat, veggies, and stock to make into a soup, but the part that really takes imagination is when you start with soup as the original meal.
Meal #2: For example, start with a bean based soup. This could be a good old fashion chili or perhaps a pork and black bean soup. You can always dress these up on an individual portion basis, instead of adding a bunch of extras to the entire pot of soup. Say for example, a little sour cream and cheddar cheese on the top of each bowl.
Makeover: The next day, use the remaining soup for chili-dogs or the extra pork and beans for quesadillas. You may need to strain a bit of the liquid off from the soup, depending on how you like your quesadillas. Again, use the add-ons to bring life to your leftovers. For chili-dogs, why not add onions, cheese, or even pickles to the mix. For quesadillas, go crazy with different types of salsa. Fruit salsas add a great twist, or how about a corn-based salsa that will add a few extra veggies to the mix.
Tip #3: Pasta is a versatile canvas. Oh the powers of pasta. Cooked pasta may almost be as versatile as the egg when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. There are literally endless ways to use it, and with a little planning, preparing for one recipe easily does double duty without much added effort.
Meal #3: Let’s say you have a hearty spaghetti dinner for one of your meals this week. A great way to add a few extra nutrients to the mix is by adding in vegetables to your spaghetti sauce. While preparing veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots for your sauce, be sure to clean and chop an extra serving and set these veggies aside. Make an extra batch of your pasta and put aside as well. When planning to refrigerate and reuse your noodles, be sure to rinse them in cool water to prevent them from forming into a giant ball-o-noodles after refrigerating.
Makeover: The next day you’ll be ready to enjoy a simple pasta salad. Throw those chopped veggies into a bowl with those leftover noodles and add a dressing of your choice. Italian dressing is an easy go-to, but you could also use a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Season it up with dried herbs and spices and consider adding in even more nutrient-dense foods. Some thawed, shelled edamame, a handful of shredded cheese, or even a few mini turkey pepperonis would be great additions to this post-dinner mix.
Day 9 Homework–> First, watch Make Over Your Leftovers for Two-in-One Meals for a little added inspiration!
Next, decide what you would like to make as your ‘starter’ meal. Remember, you should keep your starter meal somewhat simple to make it easier to build onto the next evening. For the planning portion, always start with deciding on the entree first and then build on the sides from there. This next step is crucial, so be sure to pay extra close attention. Before you go and get supplies for your ‘starter’ meal, be sure to have a plan for your secondary meal using your leftovers as well. This will eliminate making two trips to the grocery store. Next, plan out your ‘secondary’ meal that you want to make using your leftovers. Again, start with planning the entree and work on sides afterwards. Many leftover makeovers are a meal in itself, which eliminates the need for sides all together. Shoot for a goal of giving your leftovers a makeover at least once a week. You will find that this will save you time, money, and energy! Once you have your ‘starter’ and ‘secondary’ meals and lists prepared, share a few of your meal ideas with us either in the comments section below or on your own blog. We can’t wait to hear what kind of makeovers you have planned for your leftovers!
An Intern Behind the Plate,