We all make them and we all tend to have a hard time using them up- leftovers. I grew up in a house where nothing was wasted. Little bits of meat that were not even enough for a meal were cut and picked, tiny pits of leftover potatoes and vegetables, parts of meals, all found their way into the fridge. And you know what? My mom always found a way to use them up. Roast beef and vegetables always had a second go around as another meal, then any leftover veggies got worked their way into other meals, with the roast beef getting ground up and turned into delicious and delectable beef croquettes which I think also had a lot of the leftover potatoes too, served with the leftover gravy. Multiple leftovers were sometimes combined in a “who wants what” supper, or saved for lunches for my mom or step-dad or for us on the weekends for lunches. I’m telling you, I idolize my mother for finding ways to use up everything. Note to self, I’m going to have to try a roast beef this fall and figure out how she makes those killer croquets. 😉
Since Ryan and I started our new lives together, here in Vermont, we’ve slowly been finding ways to become more independent, self-reliant, and sensible and leftovers have definitely become a strong part of that equation, even if he doesn’t realize it. I can’t imagine throwing out perfectly good food, food that you worked hard to buy and to make. So every time we make ourselves a nice big meal, we end up with a ton of leftovers- after all, there’s only two of us. And I always spend a little extra time saving as much of that as possible to use again. A perfect example of this was for Easter, we prepared an amazing New England Boiled Dinner with ham, potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. When all was said and done, we separated out a portion of ham with the left over vegetables to be reheated as another portion of supper later that week. But we were still left with all kinds of boiled ham. So what did I do? What any sensible person would, take a half an hour to pick out all the terrific ham, separate it into meal sized portions, labeled, then froze it to use again. Three meals worth of ham ready to go in the freezer, can you think of anything better than that?
And here is a perfect example of what leftovers can get you! A crowd pleaser my mom created that even my semi-fussy sister liked: Ham Roll. Just take a ball of pizza dough (I always have homemade balls in my freezer that are easier than easy to make in our bread machine), roll it out into a rectangle-like shape, lay the leftover ham pieces down the middle, then pile on the mozzarella, or whatever cheese you have that might be on it’s way out and you want to use up (I bet Swiss, provolone, or cheddar would be great too) on top, roll it up, then bake in your oven like you would a pizza at 450 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting and you’re done! You can serve it as a meal with a side of veggies, a green salad, or anything else, as an appetizer, or just as is! You can eat it plain or dress it up with some mustard, tomato sauce, or anything else you think might be nice. Quite often this ends up being a plain and simple meal just as you see it (with some cukes or tomatoes on the side) during the week. One piece of advice when it comes to making meals out of leftovers- KEEP IT SIMPLE! You don’t need to do something elaborate and crazy, just find a way to use it again in a way that you and your family will enjoy it.
So there you have it. It’s only one example of using your leftovers, but there’s tons more you can do and I’m sure many of you have your own quick and easy left over meals you like to serve up. I would love to hear some of them! So for heaven sake, cherrish everything you cook and find a way to use it again. Make your mother’s proud and don’t throw anything away before it’s been used atleast once more.