Love your leftovers

Are you someone who looks forward to eating leftovers or the type who grimaces at the aging container of leftovers at the back of the refrigerator and pushing them aside day after day until it’s too late? If you are the latter, Sue Quinn wants to change your mind, saying that it’s time for leftovers to shine. If you are the former, you will find support and maybe a bit of good advice in the article.

Quinn, whose recent book on the subject is Second Helpings: Transform Leftovers Into Delicious Dishes (don’t forget to enter our worldwide giveaway of the book), says that while eating leftovers was considered the financially proper thing to do in the lean years following WWII, they fell out of fashion once prosperity returned. In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, not eating leftovers was a sign of being in the middle to upper classes. But times are changing and there is now a “perfect storm of environmental problems and financial crises” that make eating leftovers imperative once again, says Quinn.

As a reformed leftover hater, I found the tips she suggested to be useful, especially the one about doing the prep before putting foods away. If I chuck the carcass of a leftover roast chicken into the fridge to deal with later, it becomes much more daunting than if I immediately strip it down and start a pot of stock with the bones and put the meat into the refrigerator in a tidy little container. I can let the stock simmer away after dinner until just before bedtime. Then the next day (or later in the week) it’s much easier to make something else because you don’t have to do as much prep.

Quinn’s book offers ideas that showcase the most commonly wasted foods, such as bread, milk, cheese, potatoes, bananas, apples, salad leaves, leftover takeaways and previous meals. Her final piece of advice? “Celebrate leftovers – don’t just think of them as something you need to use up because you should. Use them up in a way that’s really special and get the most out of them. It’s an opportunity for deliciousness, rather than something you should get rid of.”

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  • averythingcooks  on  May 16, 2024

    In this house, leftovers are destined for lunch (and not because we have to, because we love them!) and if there is only enough for one, some serious bargaining/trades for future draft picks (for the hockey fans) occurs. If there is plenty, the freezer is a great place to tuck away future lunches & time crunch dinners. Minimizing food waste as much as possible is a big deal here.

  • SheilaS  on  May 16, 2024

    A cooking friend of mine strongly prefers to say “planned overs” instead of leftovers and I like to do the same!

  • matag  on  May 16, 2024

    I call them planned overs. More often than not I make double or triple what I need for dinner. Pack them in the freezer for another day or in the fridge to be turned into something else

  • Rinshin  on  May 17, 2024

    For us the leftovers become dinner items two days later and always appreciated even by no cooking spouse. One less day of planning meal items for this cook.

  • FuzzyChef  on  May 18, 2024

    Wait … There’s people who don’t eat leftovers?

  • StokeySue  on  May 19, 2024

    As a single person, my diet depends on a system of rolling leftovers, new potatoes tonight, potato sald or sauté potatoes tomorrow to take a simple example. If potatoes and green beans then there’s a salade Niçoise on the horizon… some future meals are planned (I will have steamed an egg in its shell next to the beans for the Niçoise) some just happen.

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