You’d think by the title of this post that the advice I give you today would be all about leftovers. And in a way you’re not wrong, except I’m looking at this from the reverse. Most articles give you advice on what to do when you’ve cooked too much and need to eat the leftovers. I am suggesting here that you intentionally cook extra so you can have leftovers.
In cooking extra you’ll not only save time (no extra time is needed to cook, clean and wash up the following day/s), you’ll save money (because we all know bulk cooking is better for our wallets), and you’ll actually eat better (because instead of grabbing a takeaway you’ll have real food on hand that can be quickly reheated).
Why are extra food portions useful?
Extra portions of food can be used for any time you need extra food, here are some ideas:
- Lunch the next day (put the extras in the fridge).
- Frozen to use as lunches or dinners later in the week or month.
- When you know you don’t have time to cook the next night, cook extra tonight (or maybe you’re planning for next week when you know you’re out each night).
- If you need to take some food to a party cook twice as much and freeze some of the extras for you.
- When you want a fast dinner you won’t have to order takeaway.
- If you’ve got small children and you need to make them different food to what you and your hubby would eat (make theirs in bigger batches).
- If you’re about to start exams you don’t want to spend hours cooking, so cook up a couple of big batches of your favourite foods and have them in the fridge or frozen for the times when you really need to be focused on the books.
- If you suddenly have guests coming over for dinner, you can defrost something and add a salad or two and you’ve got dinner in no time.
Which foods lend themselves to cooking once, eating twice?
Some of the simplest things to cook once and eat twice are carbs like rice, potatoes, couscous, pasta, etc. They are all incredibly easy to make extras of on the night you cook them. If you already have some casserole or something similar frozen in the freezer you can use the leftover rice or couscous with that frozen meal the next night. Or you can use the rice tonight for the butter chicken you made and use the leftover rice the next day in these really tasty Tuna Rissoles (I love these little guys).
Other options include:
- Soups (these are fantastic for lunches).
- Casseroles/tagines/stews (these are easy to make double or triple the recipe).
- Ragu/Ragout (otherwise known as bolognaise sauce – can be used on pasta, potatoes, etc).
- Ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini and tomato made into a sauce – can be used with anything).
- Risotto (brilliant for lunches at work).
- Burger and vegetable patties (you can make a dozen or so ahead and freeze them to use one at a time). Find some recipes in my 5 Ingredients by 5 Meals post.
- Lentil dahl (or any other type of Indian curry). You can serve this with bread the next day rather than rice.
- Savoury or sweet muffins (reheat one at a time in the microwave for 30 seconds).
- Pancakes (make these ahead so you can have mid-week breakfasts that are much tastier than toast).
- Burcher muesli (make a big batch on a Sunday night and use for breakfasts over the week).
- Mini quiches (make them ahead and reheat in the over for a crunchier base or just microwave if you don’t mind soft pastry).
What can I do with my extra cooked food?
Leftovers DO NOT have to be eaten in the same way the second time. That’s why I called this post cook once, eat twice – I didn’t call it what to do with leftovers. I once made a chicken casserole for dinner one night and the following night I put it between two layers of pastry so we had a chicken casserole pie.
Other ways to get creative with your extra cooking are:
- Extra rice, potatoes or pasta can be made into a salad the next day for lunch.
- Extra cooked veggies could go on top of a pizza.
- Extra pieces of roasted meats can become sandwiches, or add to other ingredients to make a pie, or add cold to salads (e.g. Thai beef salad, or a chicken caesar salad).
- Bolognaise or pasta sauce can be put over crumbed chicken to make chicken parmigana.
- Extra vegetables can be made into a frittata or quiche.
- Risotto can be turned into arancini balls (balls of risotto that are crumbed and often served with a tomato sauce).
- Burger patties and veggie patties can be used for burgers another night, add to sandwiches or wraps or added to toasted sandwiches.