Photo Credit: Sarah Moore
After cleaning out our fridge yesterday, I noticed how many small portions of food linger and get discarded in our fridge. But most of it isn’t from Michael and I — most of it is from Naomi. We set out a portion of food for her and if she doesn’t eat it, we cover it and put it into the fridge, hoping that she will eat it later. Which, of course, she never does. And as they never really amount to much on their own, they often get pushed to the back of the fridge, where they get left until they spoil.
So I got to thinking: why not make use of all those bits and pieces? So I set out a small tupperware container in the fridge and started tossing in the leftover bits of vegetables, meats, and soups or broth. After a day or two, this leaves me with roughly a cup or so of delicious cooked tidbits.
But what to do with them? There are actually lots of options! Here’s the list of ways I can prepare these leftovers for either Naomi, myself or Michael.
1. Omelets. Omelets are so easy. Mix some eggs and milk together and pour into a frying pan. Cook until the eggs are half cooked, but still runny on the tops. Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the leftovers, and add 1-2 tbsp. shredded cheese. Flip half of the eggs over the others and let it cook through.
2. Crustless Quiche. Quiche is another great way to use up your leftovers in combination with eggs. It’s especially good if you have an abundance of leftovers, such as a soup that didn’t work out quite right, or an unpopular casserole. In a 9 inch pie pan, spread out 1.5 to 2 cups of vegetables and meats, and then cover in approximately 1/2 cup of cheese. In a bowl, whisk together 4 whole eggs with about 1.5 cups of liquid, such as left over soup broth, milk, chicken broth, watered down gravy, etc. You can always add any herbs or flavorings that will compliment. Pour the egg mixture over the solid ingredients. Let cook in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about an hour. Check halfway through. You will know it is done when a knife inserted into the outside comes out clean, but the center is still somewhat soft. It will continue to cook for a few minutes afterwards.
3. Soups. With a little bit of frozen chicken broth, some cooked rice, beans, or lentils, as well as some savory seasonings, it is so easy to make up a quick and delicious soup out of the leftovers you accumulate. You might be better off to make individual soup for yourself or baby rather than as a full meal, as you might not get a chance to save up enough to make a family sized hearty soup. Mixing 2 cups of leftovers, 1 onion fried in butter, 3-4 cups of broth, and some leftover cooked grains or legumes will create an instant masterpiece. Especially if you can add a side of sourdough bread to that table!
4. Casseroles. This is my favorite thing to do with leftover potatoes. Start with approximately 1 cup of leftover potatoes, and cover the bottom of a 9 inch square cake pan, and smooth flat on the bottom. Next, add 1.5 to 2 cups leftovers and cover the potatoes. Pour on 1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover broth or gravy, and top with another 1 cup layer of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle on top some fried onions and shredded cheese and pop into the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. So easy!
5. Hash. I love to dice up some potatoes and toss them in with a bit of butter and onion and fry them up. Mix with 1 cup leftovers and you have an instant hash lunch!
6. Meatloaf. When you have lots of ground beef available, a meatloaf is a great option to toss together with your leftovers. This is also a great way to hide those vegetables and legumes that just aren’t that popular to little people’s palates (shhhhh!). Mix 2 cups ground beef with 1 large egg, 1 cup leftovers, and any spices you like. Put in a loaf pan and cover with 1/4 cup leftover sauce or gravy. Then just toss it in the oven for an hour and you’re done!
Once you get in the habit of looking at baby’s leftovers as a bonus instead of a waste, it’s easy to see the potential a little creativity and ingenuity can bring to your table!