Bachelors will have leftovers. That’s just the way it is. It’s a lot easier to make a dish for four or more servings than to make just one or two. That’s why I always advise that we have plastic containers in The Bachelor’s Kitchen.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on containers. You can buy really expensive ones, like those sold at home parties. But you can also find affordable sets of containers in various sizes at your grocery store. These are usually next to the plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You can even make your own containers using plastic wrap and aluminum foil for lots of things. However, this won’t work for things like soup.
The wonderful thing about those containers is that they are relatively cheap and so you don’t stress over them being damaged. They will hold up with a little care for many, many uses. But if you get them too close to the hot stove or you forget and leave one in the refrigerator at work, it’s no big deal.
But we all know that eating the same things over and over gets really old really fast. That’s why I recommending freezing things or finding creative ways to use them.
When I buy chicken parts, I almost always buy in large “family” sizes. The cost is lower. But that means you have to find something to do with that large quantity of food. One thing you can do is individually wrap the uncooked meat and put in the freezer. Make sure you double wrap it, such as wrapping it in plastic and then with foil to prevent freezer burn. Using freezer style plastic bags also helps. You can individually wrap pieces and then freeze all of them in one freezer bag.
Often I cook all of the pieces because cooked food usually last longer than raw. But you still have to use those things in a reasonable time, say a week or so.
Another idea is to make other dishes. Things like pizza, quiche, soup and pasta dishes all can be ways to use up leftovers. Often all it takes is a little imagination and creativity to make a really great dish for those leftover ingredients.
Pizza is one of the favorite foods in America and many other countries around the world. Making a dough is as simple as making any bread dough without needing to allow it to rise. You can use whatever cheese you have available. Just cut it up into strips or use a grater. I’m a big fan of the old fashioned box grater for making shredded cheese to use in all kinds of dishes. For sauce you can use plain old spaghetti sauce and dress it up with additional basil and oregano. Alfredo sauce is great for pizza. For toppings, leftover breakfast sausage, hamburger or chicken are great. You might even use barbecued pork or pulled chicken. Then you wouldn’t need additional sauce. Leftover vegetables are great for pizza. You can use asparagus, tomatoes, even squash and broccoli. I would avoid harder vegetables like potatoes and carrots, as they might not get soft enough in the time it’s in the oven. If they are cooked, however, that would work okay.
Quiche is another leftover favorite. In fact, quiche was developed to use leftover ingredients. Almost anything can go in a quiche. Just add the egg custard mixture and cheese and you’re good to go. You can use frozen or refrigerated pie crust if you don’t want to make your own. This is one good place to use egg substitute if you want.
Many of us grew up with leftover soup one day a week when our moms cleaned out the fridge before the next shopping trip. Soup can be made from almost anything. Just throw everything in a pot with water and cook until the flavors meld into something great. It’s alchemy at it’s zenith. Add some spices and herbs and you’d be surprised what you could create. You can make a peasant stew with whatever seafood and a little milk and broth you have available. The thing to remember is that things like fish, shrimp, clams and mussels need less time to cook while squid and octopus need a long time to soften up.
Leftover meat and vegetables can be combined with pasta, sauce and cheese to make a great dish using up those leftovers. Combinations are limited only by your imagination and taste. Pasta sauce can be whipped up quickly using tomato sauce or paste and some herbs and spices, a little salt and just a touch of sugar. Ten minutes in a small saucepan on the stove and the whole things comes together. Just taste it until you get what you want. You can even use a bit of ketchup to add both sweetness and acidity.
Those are just a few ideas. So, don’t be afraid of leftovers. You can always find a way to use them up. Just remember to freeze anything that you’re not going to use within a few days.
Posted on September 13th, 2010 by James
Filed under: Cooking