Tip: Always make leftovers

Figuring out what to make for dinner is difficult for most moms.

It’s difficult for me. You either have an abundance of ideas, for which you have no ingredients, or you don’t even know what sounds good. And then you finally find a recipe. Then all you have to do is make a grocery list, drive to the store, keep the kid happy while finding and buying all the ingredients, get the kid home, keep the kid happy while putting everything away, prepping and cooking.

Now I’m hoping that this blog can help you decide what to make for dinner. And that it won’t break the bank.

But the rest of the process cannot be helped. So if you decide to make dinner yourself from scratch (a lofty goal for any parent) make it worth your time. Make leftovers.

Yes, I know. Leftovers sometimes just don’t taste as good. But I’ll try to share some tips here (please chime in with your own).

The main idea here is that cooking something from scratch takes time. Making a little extra than you know you’ll need doesn’t really add to that time.

But it does mean that unexpected dinner guests can be greeted with a full smile rather than a scared look of gotta-run-to-the-store-now-to-get-more-food. Also, it means that your home-cooked meal can also be enjoyed the next day for lunch or dinner.  And that saves you from having to run through that whole process again.

My leftovers tips:

  • If you can, reheat leftovers the same way you made the food. Pizza tastes so much better when baked in an oven rather than turning into rubber in the microwave. Same goes for casseroles. If you make pancakes ahead, try re-warming on a skillet.
  • Put it away right away. No I don’t mean you should pack up leftover food before feeding your hungry child. But try to get the leftover food put away right after eating dinner. It’ll help it stay fresh longer.
  • Invest in good storage. Glass containers can be fully cleaned and won’t hold onto food tastes. They are also safe to use in a microwave. Make sure you don’t microwave food in plastic or otherwise unsafe containers, even if its just the lid. Use a paper towel to cover the food so it doesn’t splatter, plus it’ll help steam the food a bit keeping in the moisture.
  • On the moisture front, that’s the main problem with reheating in a microwave. If reheating something like rice, adding a bit of extra water before warming can help keep it tasty.
  • If you really, really hate leftovers try this: make something that actually will taste better on day two. Soups, salsas, chili and other such dishes will develop deeper, more complex flavors overnight.
  • If you don’t want to eat the same thing again try to find a way to make it new. Use leftover chili to top baked potatoes or leftover marinara sauce from pasta night to make a pizza.

Sonya Quick

Full-time mom, freelance journalist and dancer. Loves cooking, listening to good music and drinking craft beer.