Plate Up Planned Overs

October 13, 2015

Plate Up Planned Overs

Originally published in the Langley Times.

Cook once & eat twice. That's my motto. Leftovers? No way.

Somehow that word just makes the food seem so unappealing and I am pretty sure I have some residual trauma from my childhood. Growing up, when mom announced she was serving leftovers for dinner, a deathly silence would fill the room, my sister's gag reflex would kick in, she would start looking for the dog and my dad, in anticipation of the ensuing arguments, would tense up and start to think about chores he could do that would take him away from the dinner table.

When I moved out and started cooking for myself I thought, ˜Forget this, I am never eating leftovers at my house!' I was ready to die on that mountain until I realized how much work it was to get a new and exciting meal on the table every night of the week after a full day of work. So I decided that rather than fall into the habit of throwing plastic wrap on every bite of leftover food with the intention of reheating it I took a stand and re-branded my leftovers. At my house we call them planned-overs. There are a million creative ways to turn planned overs into another meal; whether you pack them in your lunch or completely transform them into another dinner - so much so that your family might not recognize them as yesterday's dinner and you can avoid that awkward pre-dinner announcement that my mom seemed to revel in. In order to have an entirely new meal you do need to have a well-stocked pantry, spice cupboard and some level of creativity.

The up side is when you start with your planned-overs, half the work is already done.

  • Grilled veggies can turn into a quiche or omelettes, pureed to flavour a bean dip or tossed into a salad.
  • Planned-over turkey, chicken or beef can be transformed into fajitas, quesadillas or used as a pizza topping.
  • Extra bread is perfect for garlicky croutons, bread pudding, French toast or delicious grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with planned over shredded short ribs, bacon or thinly sliced ham.
  • Rice can be fried, added to a soup, salad or used as a binder for crab cakes or meatloaf.
  • I make extra pasta intentionally and turn it into a pasta salad with the other bits and pieces from the fridge.
  • Make extra potatoes and serve them cubed and refried with leftover meat as hash for breakfast, mash them and make potato cakes or shepherd's pie.
  • I don't have much experience with leftover wine but people tell me they freeze it in cubes and use it to add to sauces, gravies and marinades (who knew?)

You are limited only by your imagination. Jump on the planned overs band wagon and think of the time and money you'll save. Even when you have the best intentions there are days that things get backed up, you get busy, life gets in the way and you just can't face another meal with what you had planned as a planned over. That's when I revert back to my sister's plan, start looking for the dog, thaw out those wine cubes and order in.

- Angie.

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