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In Defense of Leftovers

Updated: Jan 12, 2021


I know people who don’t eat leftovers. If you’re one of them I’m not judging you I just think.... okay maybe I am judging you.


I think you’re missing out. Let me tell you all the reasons why I am in support of leftovers, and why I think you should be too. Then we’ll go over some dos and don’ts regarding leftovers in case you’re new to the practice.


First, let me tell you my story with leftovers and how vital they are to my life. For 5 years I worked until 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, what did Kenton and I eat on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Leftovers. Every week. We also eat leftovers for lunch every day. I’m pretty familiar with leftovers- some might even call me an expert, and I’m here to tell you why you should also become familiar with eating leftovers.


Reasons you should definitely eat leftovers:

1.They’re delicious. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to eat the same thing all week, but if you really enjoyed the dish the day you made it, it will be just as good the next day. Some food even tastes better the next day. Obviously, this is not the case for all food and we’ll talk more about that later.


2. Cook once, eat twice (or thrice!) Meaning, you don’t have to cook as often. I love cooking, but even I am thankful for the break leftovers provide.

3. Save time! Because you’re cooking less often.

4. Less dishes! Because you’re cooking less often.


5. Less waste. Because you’re not throwing away perfectly good food.

6. Less money wasted. Don’t throw away your money with your leftovers. Remember, whatever you would eat instead of those leftovers (take-out, or another meal you make) will cost money. Even meals that don’t make leftovers tend to cost more than meals that do.

7. Less meals to plan. Which means you’ll save time and mental energy when meal planning.

8. Convenient lunches. Leftover dinners are more exciting than another ham sandwich anyway.

9. Healthier lunches. When you plan healthy suppers and you eat the leftovers for lunch, you also get a healthy lunch (wow, genius.) If you bring that lunch to work you won’t be as tempted to go out to eat (saving money, time and your health.)

10. It makes a new meal (or going out to eat) that much more exciting.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Leftovers

Do:

  • Put leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking to prevent food-borne illness.

  • Store your leftovers in airtight containers to prevent contamination.

  • Consider putting them directly into containers you can take for lunch.

  • Plan for leftovers.

  • Eat the leftovers within 4-5 days.

  • Freeze any portions you don’t think you can eat within 4-5 days.

  • Serve dressing on the side of salads so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

  • Only re-heat what you can eat in one sitting.

  • Choose a variety of dishes to cook, some that will make leftovers and some that won’t, so you can still get everything eaten in time.

  • Consider transforming your leftovers into something else to change the texture or taste.

  • Enjoy the ease of pulling out leftovers (no cooking and less dishes!)

  • Save leftovers from restaurants or take out too. They often have large portions and a high cost per serving compared to cooking at home, so you can reduce overconsumption and over paying by stretching it to two meals.

  • Consider adding a fresh salad to your leftovers to increase the variety of texture, colour and freshness on your plate while also increasing your intake of vegetables.

Don’t:

  • Leave your food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

  • Leave leftovers uncovered in the fridge.

  • Forget about your leftovers in the fridge (after a week it’s safer to throw it out.)

  • Eat leftover seafood past 1-2 days. In my opinion, fish is not very good reheated so I usually only make enough for one serving each.

  • Throw all your leftovers in a pot and call it soup. Trust me, I am speaking from experience. Mine is now in the freezer for emergencies only. You can read about the budget challenges that led to this soup here. I’ll let you guess which leftovers I was trying to use up. Let's just say we're actively living through a pandemic and we have not yet encountered an emergency worthy of this soup.

Let's just say we're actively living through a pandemic and have not yet encountered an emergency worthy of this soup.
Not my best kitchen creation.

I hope this blog has inspired you to save money and time by eating more leftovers. I’d love to know what leftovers you consider your favourite. Send me an email to tricia@homestylefitness.ca

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