Do you cook because you love to cook? Like to cook? Because you need to cook? Maybe a combo of all of the above on different days?
Whatever your answer, these days, cooking is pretty much a necessity. And whatever camp you fall into at any given moment, it’s safe to say that few of us are excited by the thought of making three meals a day from scratch.
So let’s give ourselves a springboard for the next meal and get our minds firmly around the pleasurable concept of the intentional leftover.
Here you will find three recipes with a one-two punch. Each meal is prepared with the goal of saving part of the dinner to be reinvented later in the week.
Honey-glazed tofu with rice and sautéed spring vegetables turns into a stir-fry. Leftover roasted chicken and vegetables transform into a chicken salad grain bowl. And a mixed grill dinner becomes family-favorite quesadillas. This is the opposite of leftover boredom. In fact, if you don’t point out that meal A was used to make meal B, your family might not even notice.
There’s more: six recipes with a hidden bonus. Each of these meals will serve 4 people, and each of these double-duty recipes clocks in at less than $30 total, so $15 per dinner, less than $4 per person (I’m showing off my math skills; humor me). This includes the extra ingredients you will need to turn the reserved parts of the first dinner, such as tortillas and shredded cheese, into the second meal.
A word to the wise, especially if you have teenagers in the house: Pull off the intentional leftovers from the first meal and stash them in the fridge before you get to the business of serving dinner No. 1. Otherwise, those building-block ingredients may find themselves as lunch in the hands of an unwitting child.
And, while these recipes should give you some ammunition for planning meals, they are also designed to get the old wheels a-churning. Once you embrace the concept of the Intentional Leftover, you’ll use it all the time. Meat sauce will be saved for lasagna, roasted salmon will be reborn as salmon salad, grilled vegetables will fill a frittata.
And do you know who you’ll have to thank for all of this? Your own clever self.