Leftovers are a part of life. If you're single, or even living with someone, there is usually a little food left when you are done eating that you hate to throw away, but is still perfectly good. So it usually ends up in a container at the back of the fridge waiting to be eaten. The thing is, the food usually ends up going to waste meaning that you are throwing away hundreds of dollars of food every year. That's why I have put together the following list of tips and tricks to help you make use of your leftovers.
Know the Shelf Life
I use to throw away a lot of food because I didn't remember when I put it in the refrigerator, so I usually assumed that it was not good to eat. I found that by placing a label on the container with a date I was better able to track my leftovers and know how long they would be safe to eat. Foods have varying shelf lives, but a good rule to use is four days - after that throw it away. That rule doesn't apply to everything out there though, so do a little research and now the shelf life of things you tend to have as leftovers. By the way, I try to keep the leftovers at the front of my refrigerator so that I see them first thing when I am searching for something to eat.
Give Leftovers a New Life
A lot of people say they don't like to eat leftovers because they are too dry. An easy fix for this is a damp paper towel. Since food loses moisture as it sits in the refrigerator, you can restore most of the moisture by placing a damp paper towel over the food as it microwaves. Almost as good as new!
Another option is to bake your leftovers. This is probably the best way to heat up left over pizza and pasta since you can avoid the sogginess that these items develop in the microwave. Bake until warm to restore crispiness to pizza, and to add a golden brown goodness to cheese on any dish.
Mix Your Leftovers Up
One way you can make leftovers new again is by adding a little something to enhance the flavor. Just about everyone has a spice rack - so try adding some herbs and spices to the food to give your leftovers a new flavor. A squeeze of fresh lemon is also a good way to add a little kick to many dishes like chicken or Mexican.
You can also try to re-purpose your leftovers into a completely new dish. Chicken or beef can be added to a salad, rolled into a wrap, put on top of pasta, included in a panini ... the options are endless. Learning how to incorporate leftovers will test your abilities as a chef, and make you a better cook overall.
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness.
She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.