The Art of Leftovers

One of the biggest conundrums that hosts face after the holidays is the glut of leftover food. Even if you’re just a guest, chances are good that you get sent home with more food than you know what to do with. While you could recreate the meal with smaller portions, that can get a little boring. Pizza. Stir fry. Mac and cheese. Some dinners just taste better the next morning. And yet, leftovers are usually an afterthought. But if you’re wondering what you’re going to eat for lunch this week, maybe you should make leftovers your top priority. Here are some recipes that you can supersize and eat for lunch (or dinner again) all week long. Try the following ways to use up those holiday leftovers in a healthy and satisfying way. Lets get started!

Slow-cooker veggie curryslow-cooker-coconut-curry


If there’s anything nearly as convenient as leftovers, it’s cooking dinner in the Crockpot. Slow-cookers have enjoyed a recent return to the spotlight thanks to their ability to do all the hard work while you’re at the office, and make cheap, healthy meals to boot. This slow-cooker recipe is a shining example of what this handy tool can do for you, and there will be plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day). You begin by whisking together coconut milk, flour, and curry paste for a slightly spicy base, then add onion, potatoes, cauliflower, squash, and bell pepper to the mix. Let it all simmer until the veggies are tender, then throw in cooked basmati rice for a feast.

Shepherd’s pie


A fluffy layer of mashed potatoes. Tender ground beef. Corn, carrots, and celery. These are the building blocks for shepherd’s pie, a classic comfort food that somehow tastes even better after it’s been refrigerated and microwaved. Sear the beef, mash the potatoes, and make the beef-veggie blend for the bottom of the casserole, then spread it all out in a glass or ceramic casserole dish and wait while the mashed potatoes on top transition slowly from creamy white to golden brown. The dense potatoes and tender meat hold up well in the refrigerator and reheat easily in the microwave.

Cheesy vegetarian lasagna


If you like cold pizza, you’ll probably enjoy a slice of this cheesy vegetarian lasagna straight from the fridge. But first, you’ll actually have to make it. This version of lasagna skips the meat in favor of a colorful medley of veggies instead. Baby bella mushrooms, eggplant, yellow squash or zucchini, red bell pepper, and garlic mingle with tomato sauce and an array of herbs and spices, all layered between ricotta and mozzarella cheese and sheets of pasta.

Supersize meatballs in marinara sauce


Cold pasta is perhaps one of the tastiest leftovers out there. And if you didn’t get enough of it from the vegetarian lasagna, scoop some of this spaghetti-and-meatballs creation out of the fridge and eat it straight. Or stick it in the microwave—that’s up to you! The massive meatballs are made by hand using breadcrumbs and milk, onion, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, and egg. Cook them on the stovetop, then stir in some marinara sauce, and you’re ready to eat—but not too much, because you want those leftovers to last.

Turn mashed potatoes into potato pancakes


While mashed potatoes are one of those comfort foods that many people can eat over and over again, they make a great base for potato pancakes. Add cheese and chive to the potatoes, scoop a dollop of them into a frying pan and pat them flat to turn them into a completely different tasty meal. Or, keep the pancakes plain and top them with light sour cream or plain yogurt and salmon as an equally tasty alternate take.

Stuff that stuffing into something else


The great thing about stuffing is that no matter what your recipe is, it will usually taste great when stuffed into something else. So, go heavy on the veggies and try stuffing bell peppers or onions with that leftover dressing or stuffing. Cook the stuffed vegetables in the oven with the stuffing in them for a quick and easy meal, or char the peppers over an open flame or grill before stuffing them for a more sophisticated touch. The extra protein and carbs in the stuffing will help to add just enough depth and heartiness to this otherwise light meal. Rest assured, a moderate portion of this dish will help you stay satisfied without packing on the pounds.

Make veggies your next appetizer


If you’re left with an excessive amount of vegetables from the holiday meal, don’t fret — they won’t go to waste. Incorporating them into your lunch or dinner as an appetizer is a healthy and tasty way to use them up. Try baking focaccia with them, or use them to top a tart. Extra asparagus or green beans can be covered in light breadcrumbs and baked for a crunchy pre-meal or game time snack that isn’t just junk food. You could even try pureeing and adding them to sauce for a little extra nutrition. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Don’t pho-get about the turkey


One of the silver linings to being a host is that you usually get to keep the carcass of the turkey. Rather than discarding it, why not use it to make for a flavorful broth? You could take the classic route and make a broth as a base for a soup, or you could try putting an Asian twist on it by making it a pho. Simmer the broth with peppercorns, ginger, star anise, and sugar, then add extra turkey, onions, bean sprouts, herbs, and Thai chili peppers right before eating. This highly customizable soup should be a hit with the whole family.

Enjoy these quick meal ideas and spend time in doing what we love most – SHOPPING!! Happy Thanksgiving!!


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