Leftovers: A smidge of this, a titch of that, cluttering your fridge & cupboards. Refashioning these is the “make it or break it” category of food for a frugal cook.
how to use leftovers:
Leftovers will probably come in odd amounts, which can make them a challenge to work with. Think of them as building blocks for recipes that rely on already cooked ingredients; as shortcuts to something marvelous. All you need is an inspiration & maybe a recipe.
And think of the recipes you’ll use as “guides” not something set in stone. Once you have a leftover ingredient to start with and a little inspiration (see the links at the bottom of the page) scale recipes up or down, substitute and maybe make do. This is how Grandma cooked when people didn’t have recipes so much as processes.
Here are some guidelines, some more critical than others. “Rules” are to eliminate risk. You might get by with something 100 times with no issue; it’s the final time that changes habits.
- There’s a two-hour window that foods can be left out without being refrigerated. Less if it’s hot where the food is.
- Foods should be reheated to 165 degrees. Sauces and gravies should be brought up to a boil before using.
- Work with clean hands and counters. Do not take your leftovers and put them on a dirty counter. And it’s likely your counter is dirty, even if it doesn’t look like it.
- If heating and serving leftovers, don’t put them back in the same container they came out of; the container sitting at room temperature out on your counter.
- Cool food rapidly in smaller containers. Leave the lid slightly ajar till cooled and then seal.
- If food is contaminated, dispose of it in a well-wrapped manner so other people or animals can’t eat it; it’s best not to use the garbage disposal.
- Check out this PDF from the FDA. How long your leftovers are good for is dependent upon how safely it is handled.
- Discard leftover food that has an off odor or flavor or has developed any mold, growth or slime.
two no-brainer ways to use leftovers:
- Portion up as meals to take to work. If it’s something that freezes well, put them in the freezer so you won’t have to eat the same thing all week.
- Have a “Smorgasborg” night – A once a week clean out the fridge night and serve up all the bits and pieces, everyone taking what they like. Preferably before you go grocery shopping.
leftovers: inspiration, recipes & links:
Here are some pages that have leftovers sorted by categories with lots of ideas…Bear with me as I am updating pages and they’re all pretty much “under construction.”