Welcome. This blog is my little home on the web. It's mostly about my favorite hobby, digital scrapbooking. You might also find some recipes, home decor projects, or parenting woes. But mostly digital scrapbooking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm out of leftovers!

The scientist isn't a fan of leftovers. Being the person who cooks 99.5% of the meals in my home, however, I'm a big fan of leftovers. In theory. I tend to go on cooking sprees. I'll plan out several meals. I cook the first one, which has leftovers. Then the next night, I cook the next planned meal, the leftovers from the previous meal being pushed toward the back of the fridge. The third day I cook the third planned meal ... the leftovers keep getting forgotten, and eventually they have spoiled.

I used to admire the idea of using leftovers to make a "new" meal. Say you make a roast chicken one night. Then the next night, you don't eat leftover roast chicken - instead you take the leftovers and make chicken soup or chicken enchiladas. A beautiful idea, but I have had trouble putting it into action. And let's face it: even though you are using leftovers, you are still making an entirely new meal. So you aren't saving as much work as you first thought.

Lately I have been doing the following, and I love it. When I make a meal, I make the full recipe (4+ servings). But I only cook half and put the other half in the freezer. A week or two later, I can take those leftovers out, thaw and cook, and have a meal with relatively little effort. I know, the domestic goddesses out there probably perfected this idea a month after freezers were invented, but it's new to me.

Here are the meals I've had success with. Well actually, these are the meals I've used for this technique. I haven't run into any failures yet.

  • Chicken Pot Pie.  Instead of baking the full recipe in an 8x8 Pyrex dish, I cook about half in a Pyrex that's about 8x5, and I put the rest into two large ramekins with plastic lids, crust and all.
  • Meatloaf.  I mix up a full pound of meat mixture.  I put half in a 1.5 pint Pyrex loaf dish/refrigerator dish and put the second half, raw, into a freezer bag to freeze.
  • Vegetable Soup.  I make up a double batch of my favorite Tuscan Vegetable Soup (which barely fits in my big soup pot).  I freeze six to eight pint-sized wide mouth canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch air at the top.  The canning jars I bought actually say Freezer Safe on the box.
  • Broccoli and cheese Soup.  Same as above.
  • Stuffed Peppers.  I mix up the meat mixture for about 4 servings, which starts with about a pound of beef.  Then I freeze about half of it in a pint-sized wide mouth canning jar - which is enough for two really big stuffed peppers.
I'm in love with getting two meals out of one preparation.  And since they get eaten several weeks apart, it  doesn't "feel" like eating leftovers.  But now I am all out of my frozen leftovers.  I have to start over again.  It was nice knowing there were meals basically ready-to-go in the freezer.  I just had to cook them and add some veggies or a salad.  So easy!  Tonight I am making my Grandma's meatballs and gravy.  I'll make a large batch and freeze half.  Hopefully I'll have another two-for-one meal to add to my list.


  1. Great idea, Tiff! I tend to cook a lot of meat on Sundays (roasting chicken, cooking off a beef roast, making a general ground beef/onions/garlic mixture) and then just apply those to meals throughout the week. It's just a shortcut to make things a little easier. Since I work full-time, I may just take your idea and run with it! And these okay-for-the-freezer canning jars are a new thing to me!

  2. Love the cooking tip! I need to use it. We do eat leftovers all the time and thankfully my hubby enjoys them.