In my house, leftovers used to be a 4 letter word. I’d make dinner, it would get put in a container and die a slow and painful death in the fridge.
I have since changed my approach to leftovers. It’s made a big difference. Since we follow a Nourishing Traditions diet, everything takes longer. Longer, slower cook times. Longer soak times. Several things need to ferment. Everything just takes longer, however, I’m committed to eating this way. I feel that a traditional diet is best for my family and am willing to do the extra steps necessary to make it happen. On the other hand, I don’t have time to make all of our meal times a big production. I need to have some wiggle room. Planned leftovers give me that wiggle room.
MEAL PLANNING FOR LEFTOVERS
Planned leftovers… bulk cooking, whatever you want to call it. It’s an easy way to meal prep. Instead of prepping different meals for the week, it’s making basics that you can use to make different meals. I still love some kinds of freezer cooking and will continue to prep a few meals that way. This is just another tool in the surviving the mom life toolbox.
Pick a protein.
This is one of the easiest ones. It doesn’t matter if you’re a meat eater or a vegetarian/vegan. This can work for you. Grill up 5 pounds of chicken and slice or shred to use in salads, soup, wraps throughout the week. Grab a large beef roast and turn it into to tacos, a casserole or add it to pizza toppings. Package up what’s left for the freezer for another week. Roast a whole chicken, or two since you already have the oven on, and shred the meat. You can use it to top salads, fill tacos, top a pizza…there are so many possibilities.
If you’re not a meat eater, yo u can cook up your favorite beans. I love lentils for this! You can mix them into just about any recipe in place of meat. If you are a meat eater but on a budget, mixing lentils with ground beef is a great way to stretch it. Black beans are another great source of protein. We go through tons of them here. I keep them pre-soaked and prepped in my house. I keep some in my freezer and some home-canned on my pantry shelf.
Rice, grains and veggies.
I like to make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice on the weekend. Roasting up a big sheet pan of veggies is a great idea too. You can quickly grab a protein you’ve prepped and mix it with the grain and veggies and dinner is served. Food prepping like this can eliminate trips through the drive thru.
I make our red sauce this way too. Making 6-8 quarts at a time to put the extra in the freezer is easy. I prefer it this way so since we use a lot of onions and garlic in our sauce, I only have to chop everything up once. Since I know someone will ask… if you’re freezing in Mason jars make sure you use the straight walled ones. I haven’t lost any jars since switching. To be safe, I only use pint, 1/2 pint and pint 1/2 wide mouth jars. They work great.
IT WORKS FOR DESSERT TOO!
Let’s talk cookie dough. Occasionally the villagers will want something sweet. Making homemade chocolate chip cookies isn’t a big deal. The problem is the butter. I buy our organic butter in bulk, 15 pounds at a time, from Azure Standard and stock it in our freezer. The time it takes for the butter to thaw on my counter can take a few. It’s a pain. Making up batches for the freezer means I can grab just what I need when we want them. After about 30 minutes, they’re ready to go into the oven. It makes it so easy. These cookies are the main treat in our house. They are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. I have tried and tweaked many recipes over the years to get them just the way I want them. You can grab the recipe and freezer method here. I make 4-6 batches at a time. They’re SO good!
CHOOSE WHAT YOUR FAMILY LOVES
The possibilities and combinations are almost endless. Pick what your family likes best and make it work for you. It’s also a great way to use what you have on hand and clean out the fridge. If you have little odds and ends of veggies in the fridge and don’t want to toss them but also don’t know what to do with them, roasting them is usually a good choice. This can help you save time and money & saving money is always a good thing!
What about you? Do you meal prep? Are planned leftovers a thing in your home? I’d love to know!
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Leftovers can be so tricky! Some foods just aren’t very good leftover but all of these you listed are great!
They can be! It makes my heart cry to throw out food though!
Susan Evans says
Because I have 3 teen sons, a husband, and a daughter, we never really have leftovers. Nothing ever goes to waste because I serve the oldest thing in the fridge first for lunch, but that’s not a dinner item, which has already been eaten. I have tried batch cooking (making double) and then serving it two days later, and that works.
3 teen boys? What a blessing! I’m sure you do a whole lot more cooking than a lot of people do. Sounds like you have a wonderful rotation system in place!
Rose Thomas says
This are some great tips! If people only knew a little planning can make things so much easier especially at meal time! I have always liked baking cookies in double batches & freeze some!
I’m a planner by nature so it comes second nature to me. Yes!! We make 4-6 batches of cookies at a time around here. Those cookie dough balls freeze well.