After housing, food is the next largest expense for most families, so it is inevitable that any penny-pinching strategy has to make good use of leftovers. Besides, if you went to all the effort of buying and cooking the food the first time, why not take an extra few minutes to make it into dinner again? Most leftovers recipes are quick, and with just a few general ideas you will find there are at least three different things you could make in a snap that your family will actually like. Here's a list of classic dishes to get your ideas simmering.
This is what Italians do with their leftovers. Now, we just thaw the calzone dough, stuff if with whatever is on hand, and bake for about 20 minutes. You can also make a few extra calzones for reheating for up to four days later. And they make for great at-your-desk lunches. Finally, calzones are wonderful if you have an odd combination of ingredients that will not fit into a full recipe. Use that lingering half cup of spinach in one calzone, and that spare chicken breast across two others.
Another easy way to clear the fridge. Just boil some noodles, throw in a can of creamed soup (without the water, please) and then toss in whatever is left. This is a great way to dispatch up to two pounds of Thanksgiving turkey, and you can definitely add one or two bags of frozen vegetables that need to be rotated.
This is especially good for extra meat. Turkey will work, as will leftover hamburger, steak, and even ham. Depending on how hot the chili sauce is, this dish can be an excellent way to use up bland or dry meat. Those jalapenos can cover up all sorts of culinary sins.
OK, so this is not a real recipe, but any discussion of leftovers must include the next best option. If you don't have time to cook it, freeze it. Sometime in mid to late December you will want to eat turkey again. Make sure you squeeze all the air out of the items you freeze to avoid the dreaded freezer burn.
Another brilliant Italian device for using up food. Lasagna can be way more than the standard meat sauce, cheese and noodles. Extra mushrooms are a welcome addition, as is any onhand meat. Zucchini and squashes can be used up, too. And remember, your leftover lasagna dish does not need to feed four people - if there is enough for even a small bowl, that feeds one person a very nice lunch.
The American brilliant idea for using up food. Ask your mother for her recipe.
Kind of like calzones, but lighter and with eggs. Lingering vegetables are a great addition to omelets, as are all those 1-2 tablespoon portions of different cheeses from your last party. This another great dish for using up very small portions - even a quarter cup of ingredient is plenty for one omelet.
Another great use for vegetables and leftover meats. This is a great way to use up salmon and other fish dishes. You can even use nuts in pasta. If you are worried it might be too bland, add some spicy sausage or a light cream sauce, or keep it simple and use the kind of pesto sauce that just squeezes out of the tube.
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