Friday, July 31, 2009

Leftover hints

One of my friends from high school recently quipped "If you come up with a way to get kids to eat leftovers without whining - let me know!"

Well my daughter is too young to whine about leftovers (She's only 1 and a half) but I already have hints for getting her (AND ME) to eat left over food!!

I hate wasting food. I used to be bad about just throwing food away but now I am significantly more conscious about it. I try not to ever throw food away unless it is spoiled- the trick is - don't let it spoil!)

I have discovered since becoming a single mom that if I cook a meal of hamburger helper with 1 lb of ground turkey that it will last me for 3 or 4 meals if I have sides with it. (I have a toddler - of course I serve vegetables and fruit with almost every meal!) Well that is GREAT for the pocket book, not so great for someone who likes a variety of foods (ME!)

I tried and tried to just cook smaller portions but if you make manwich, with a can you can't really make that smaller.

I have it especially hard because I have had a gastric bypass so can only eat so much food (about a child's portion) and Lila eats a toddlers portion - roughly 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup total of food if she's EXTREMELY hungry.

So without further adieu here are my suggestions for managing your leftovers:

1. Freeze your leftovers before they ARE leftovers. You just fixed it, if you freeze half of it the half you froze isn't leftovers - you are just building a freezer stash! I found that part of my problem with eating leftovers wasn't that I was opposed to eating that food again, it was that I was opposed to eating it again so soon.

2. Repurpose your left overs! Give them a new life! Left over mac & cheese and spaghetti sauce can be mixed together in a baking dish with some cheese on top and called a "cheesy pasta bake" and the kids will NEVER know the difference unless they see you do it!! Especially if you froze your spaghetti sauce last week.

3. Eat your leftovers for lunch instead of dinner. There can be something decadent about having beef stroganoff for lunch and somehow the leftover vibe totally melts away!

Here are some sample recipes to get you started:

Carol's Cheater Spaghetti Sauce
1 Envelope of store brand thick & zesty spaghetti sauce mix
1 can tomato paste
3/4 cup water (however much is called for on the envelope is what I use. I think it's 3/4 of a cup but it may be 1 and 3/4 cup)
2 TBSP butter or olive oil

Mix all ingredients together in a pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
This is a normal sized recipe that should feed a family of 4 I guess. But for some reason I am always compelled to add a lb of meat and double the sauce ingredients!! so let's pretend you are cooking for 1!!

Take out however much spaghetti sauce you want to use tonight and place the rest in a ziploc bag or two and lay them flat to freeze (this makes them fit better in your freezer when they are frozen like little delicious books)

Now you have an excellent base to use the next time you want to make lasagne or the next time you want to have spaghetti you can just take out a ziploc baggie of sauce and let it defrost in the fridge (place it in a bowl in case it leaks!) or you could stick the bag under warm water to loosen the frozen sauce then take the sauce out of the plastic & microwave in a glass bowl or cook it on the stove!


Carol's Cheater Cheesy Bake
left over mac & cheese
Any left over veggies that you like can go in here too
place above food in a casserole dish and mix it together
pour spaghetti sauce from part 1 over the top
cover with a handful or two of cheese
bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until the top is cheesy and bubbly and starting to brown.

What do YOU do to get your kids to eat leftovers?


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