Cooking for Leftovers

A lot of people I know love leftovers. But I don’t know if many people see them the way my husband and I do. We don’t just save our leftovers for lunch the next day. We cook to intentionally create leftovers. I’ll make meals we don’t even eat on the first finish. They are made because we want to have food to eat all week for lunches or quick dinners. Many of them are made this way because we know they are better on reheat. (See my earlier blog for way too much gushing about foods that are better leftover.)

Almost every Sunday night, I come up with some mega-meal to make that will generate loads of leftovers. My easy go-to dishes are dirty rice (I’ve been using Zataran’s, but am about to try my hand at making it from scratch, recipe to come soon.), chili (see Recipes), meat loaf (though I recently made a meatloaf recipe that was so far from easy…pretty sure that was a one time experiment, no matter how good Cooks Country recipes are), pork chops and fried chicken. However, sometimes it’s whatever experiment I’ve decided to embark on. And sometimes, it’s just a bunch of smoked meats.

Sometimes I go a little crazy and make 2-3 dishes in a weekend. When this happens, it’s helpful if one of the dishes is something like chili that you can freeze in individual portions and take out later. I’m pretty sure I have several servings of chili in my freezer now.

The most important thing for me when cooking for leftovers is figuring out that point between what we can actually eat in a workweek, and my Southern grandmother’s cooking that could feed 30. It’s less than my grandmother would put out, but definitely more than you get for a single meal for 4 from the home delivery companies. For example, my chili involves 2lbs of meat, a full lb of beans, 3 onions and like 12-15 tomatoes. I should point out that while the stockpot is solidly full at the beginning, I usually simmer 4-6 hours, so it’s about half a pot when we’re done. Also, this one I cannot help but eat both the night of and basically every meal until it’s gone. This is great for the stomach! Jen’s Chili

And then, there are the smoked meats. Do we want to smoke the pork roast, the loin or the chicken? We want to smoke all three! It takes a little creativity with my little Webber kettle grill, but a roasting rack creates a great second tier. And so far, I have only once been able to smoke enough meat that we could not finish it off within the week. Pop some scalloped potatoes in the oven, and suddenly you have 10 or more little meals for the week.

I’m also a big anti-food waste advocate. So, if I’ve taken something out of the freezer and it turns out we have a late work night, I’ll still cook up those pork chops and store them in lunch sized containers for the rest of the week. Very rarely do they not all disappear just before I’ve decided I’d like one of those savory treats. Broiled Rosemary Pork Chops

Bottom line, I like leftovers. I sometimes cook for the future hungry meal. But we save a ton of money on workday lunches, and I feel healthier than in the days when fast food was a go-to.


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