Planning ahead is vital when it comes to losing weight.
Often we have good intentions when it comes to eating healthily, but life gets in the way, and we resort to grabbing quick snacks or ordering take-out.
But, by cooking in batches and keeping a store of well-thought-out leftovers, quick and easy home cooking is just a few steps away.
Since the upcoming holiday season is prime time for having an abundance of food to use up, we’ve put together these tips to help you make the most of your leftovers.
So, forget eating your plate clean; that food will do for another day!
1. Store Smartly
Stock up on different-sized Tupperware boxes and be sure to have plenty of Ziploc bags to keep your leftovers fresh. Keep track of your leftovers by labeling and dating the contents with a piece of tape.
You might even want to dedicate a shelf in the fridge to leftovers. That way, you can see what you already have pre-cooked when it comes to deciding on your dinner options.
A good trick is to store foods separately where possible. So, keep cooked grains like pasta and rice away from the sauce you made to eat them with.
The cooked grains can then be used differently, such as in a salad or soup, and the sauce can be added to another dish or used again for the same grains if you want.
However, by keeping them separate in the fridge, the result will be much fresher than if you had mixed them. This is also a good way of keeping you from finishing off whatever’s in the pot after you’ve dished up.
And, when it comes to salads, keep the leftover veggies fresh and crisp by storing homemade dressings separately in the fridge.
2. Cook With Leftovers In Mind
Dieters often worry about cooking too much food at once.
This is because portion sizes can easily grow without us noticing it until the scale starts to show the result. However, cooking too much food is fine if you plan what to do with it later.
Minimize waste by planning out lunches and dinners for the rest of the week to use up whatever you will have leftover.
So, prep twice the amount of veggies for tonight’s dinner and use them another day as a base for a soup or stew. Plan to use that leftover chicken in a salad for tomorrow’s lunch and cook extra rice or pasta for later in the week.
3. Make Soup
Vegetable soup can be made with just about any vegetables; those steamed, roasted, or grilled veggies you served as a side dish will make a great soup.
Puree the vegetables in a blender with 3 cups of vegetable stock, then warm the soup in a pot. Serve with warmed whole-grain bread, and enjoy!
4. Leftovers For Lunch
Packed lunches aren’t just for kids; not only does taking your own lunch to work save you up to $3,000 a year, but it also helps you avoid the not-so-healthy options in your work cafeteria or nearby restaurants.
Top a microwaved baked potato with last night’s leftover chili, use Sunday’s chicken to make a tasty salad wrap or re-heat the frittata you made from leftover veggies.
5. Build A Burger
We can’t get enough of these amazing veggie burgers, especially since the recipe is super easy to follow.
And the best bit is that you can turn leftovers such as pureed or chopped veggies, cooked lentils, beans, rice, and quinoa into burger ingredients.
As the recipe is a changeable formula, you can just use up whatever you have leftover and try out a new variation on the recipe; the possibilities are endless!
And then you can store the burgers for another day, of course, making those leftovers go even further.
6. Chop & Freeze Veggies
Chopped too much onion for tonight’s dinner? Freeze it! Frozen onion is a great base for most dishes and can save you precious peeling, chopping, and crying time when you have to whip up dinner in a hurry.
Don’t think you will use all that red pepper/zucchini/eggplant before it goes off? Chop it up and freeze it! It’ll be great for a pasta dish or stir fry.
7. Turn It Into Tapas
Don’t throw away those small portions of leftovers, thinking that they’re not enough to make a meal. Instead, store them, and then later in the week, serve several small dishes to use up whatever you have left in the fridge.
Stretch out the salad by adding a few more veggies and any leftover rice or pasta, plate up any meat, rub slightly stale bread with tomato and olive oil, and turn cooked veggies into a frittata. And there you have a healthy and delicious tapas-style feast with zero waste!
We hope that this has inspired you to re-think how you cook and store food to make the most of your leftovers. As well as being better for your wallet and the environment, getting more out of the food you buy will also save you time and help you avoid relying on take-outs or skipping meals when you don’t feel like cooking from scratch.
Do you have any tips to make the most of your leftovers? Let us know by commenting below!