Here’s a concept! Lets plan for our leftovers. That’s a little like planning for spontaneity, but it seems to be the best solution for us.

First of all, we at EVOO have more leftovers than perhaps the average household. Remember we cook for 12-22 every evening, and we start from scratch, for the most part, everyday. So our plan for leftovers is to use them for family meal which is what we do for lunch next day.  The conscious planning ahead comes when we don’t expect leftovers. We want to plan for leftovers when we have a beef roast or braised pork or roasted chicken. Here we will have leftovers to make into another meal or ingredient. For instance, when we roast a whole chicken, we will intentionally use the bones and leftovers for stock and soup. Sometimes we freeze the bones to make stock after we have several more packages. This is a planned and intentional use of leftovers. Be sure to wrap carefully and label with its contents and intended use. There are always opportunities for making double batches of spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese, chili or cooked beans, etc.

If you enjoy cooking but find less and less time for meal preparation, you might choose to cook with leftovers in mind, since each time you do you can get 2 – 3 meals from one major cook. For example, let’s make braised short ribs with some braised vegetables. The first night we eat some of the meat and vegetables right out of the oven, after this day of what we call passive cooking. All you do is put it in the pan to brown it, add the vegetables and some water or wine and put the pan in the oven, set the timer and cook while you read a book or vacuum!

Remember to properly cool the meat so you can make at least two more meals. Next use, shred the leftover meat adding it to the leftover sauce. Make a fresh batch of brown rice, intentionally more than you need, and serve the sauce over some of the rice and serve with a quick salad.  This is the second meal night. After this meal, cool the leftover rice, and next time, take the remaining shredded beef and sauce and blend with some soft cheese such as Taleggio. Scoop the leftover cold rice with #20 scoop, setting them aside until rice is used up. With slightly wet hands form each scoop into a ball. Make a divot in the center and fill it with a smaller scoop of the leftover meat sauce and cheese.  The Italians call these “arancini” and once formed into balls, they are breaded and fry them in shallow pan of hot oil. When brown, remove and place on cookie sheet and finish baking in the oven. Add a salad. That’s meal three or at least a great appetizer!

Here’s the deal. Freezer space is valuable. Don’t waste it on unplanned for leftovers.

Remember to freeze sustainably by minimizing use of plastic bags that are not the best wrap for freezing foods way anyway. And label/date clearly with intended use.



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