One of the main reasons I have, in the past, shied away from keeping and eating leftovers is the plain fact that I had that meal for dinner last night and no matter how much I enjoyed it then, I don’t usually want to repeat a meal so soon after having eaten it. Add to this the inevitable diminishing desirability of leftover food, and you have a scenario which becomes a cycle of retaining leftovers, looking at them the following day, and thinking, “I really don’t want to eat that now”. I have struggled with this for a very long time. Years, in fact. Since having children, and the accompanying unpredictability of whether plates will be empty at the end of the meal, we go through weeks where nearly every day there will be uneaten food left on, mainly my youngest son’s plate, and weeks where there are barely any leftovers to speak of.
I am also in the bad habit of cooking too much food. My logic goes thus: if everyone really enjoys this meal, they will want more, and I don’t want to be in the unfortunate position of being unable to offer it to them. I’d better make enough in the first place in the event of such a scenario. Usually the only person who wants more food by the end of the meal is me, and that’s only if I know there is some left. I should learn but I’m a little steeped in this habit. As you can see, I am learning as well, so this exercise is as much for my benefit as yours. In fact, by endeavouring to repurpose my leftovers for a week, I have managed to create some exciting, satisfying lunches, and have accidentally come upon a delicious addition to a favourite of mine, sautéed and spiced chickpeas.
There follows a selection of ideas, by no means exhaustive, but which I hope will inspire you to make more of your leftovers.
Serve them in a different way. This could be serving them cold, as part of a salad type meal, or in a wrap or tortilla. Make the meal completely different to the original by being creative and thinking outside the box.
Consider what other ingredients would go nicely with what leftovers you have and think of a creative way to meld these ingredients with the leftovers, creating something entirely new.