Home cooking is the best. There really is nothing better than coming home from work to a hot home cooked meal. More often than not, when you cook from scratch, there will be leftovers, especially if you live on your own or you have a small family. Some people will simply throw away their leftovers (what a waste!). Others, however, will reheat them. Some may even eat them cold the next day. However, what you might not realize is that there are actually many common mistakes that people will make with their leftover food. Leftovers can actually be tastier than the original meal if you use a little creativity! If you find that you often have leftovers that you simply don’t know what to do with, then you will definitely be interested in learning about the top 10 mistakes that too many people make with their leftovers.
10. Reheating Foods in the Wrong Way
Reheating food may seem like a fast and simple way of getting a quick meal. It makes sense, especially when you’re just home from work, you’re tired and you’re hungry; cooking a meal from scratch is the last thing on your mind. This is why most people will opt top simply shove their leftovers into the microwave for a couple of minutes and make a meal that way. What you might not be aware of is that there are actually a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea. Firstly, it is important to remember that you are essentially zapping your food with high temperatures. Not only does this have a negative effect on the flavor of the food, but it also changes the texture of your food too. Pizza will become soggy and inedible and pasta will become crunchy; the exact opposite of the texture that they should be. You can virtually ruin a dish by reheating it in the microwave. As a rough rule, it is a much better idea to reheat your food by using the same method that you used to cook it originally. It will retain its delicious flavor and keep the correct texture. You will find your meal far more satisfying!
9. Not Being Creative with Leftovers
Leftovers don’t have to be boring. Sometimes, it can be hard to enjoy a meal that you have already eaten the day before. It is certainly not as satisfying as a fresh home cooked meal, that’s for sure. However, one of the mistakes that so many people make with their leftovers is not letting their creativity loose. With a little creative thinking you can completely transform your leftovers into an entirely different meal all together. This is especially true of leftovers from big family dinners with vegetables and potatoes. You can actually use the leftovers and make them into a potato cake of sorts. Fried with a little cheese, these are delicious and offer a great way of using up the leftovers that nobody particularly wants to eat. As well as this, you can make sure that you are getting some extra vegetables into your diet, so double win! If you have leftovers that you are stuck with that you have no idea what to do with then there are thousands of great recipes online that will help you to turn them into a completely new dish all together.
8. Not Using Ingredients That Everyone Has In Their Pantry
If you take a look inside your pantry, it is highly likely that there are certain foods in there that will be found in household pantries all over the country. Things like pasta, rice, pasta sauce and even herbs and spices. One mistake that so many people make is thinking that they can only use these ingredients when they are cooking a meal from scratch. This is not the case. If you have any leftovers in your fridge, then it is a very good idea to take a look inside your pantry and see what staple ingredients you have available. For example, if you have some leftover vegetables in your fridge, then you can use these with some rice and herbs and spices to make a delicious vegetable fried rice dish that will rival any Chinese takeout. Leftover meat can be a fantastic addition to pasta sauce and dried pasta to make a beautiful pasta salad or even pasta bake dish. You could even add the vegetables to homemade lasagne. These are great methods of using up your leftovers whilst making sure that you get plenty of vegetables into your diet and also making sure that you can enjoy as much home cooked food as possible.
7. Not Storing the Leftovers Properly
This is probably the biggest mistake that people make with leftovers. It makes sense; you’ve just had a big meal, you’re full and you’re tired – the last thing that you want to do is mess around with leftovers trying to make sure that you store them properly. However, if you don’t make sure that they are stored properly then they are going to end up going to waste, which is the last thing that you want. It is important to remember that different foods should be stored in different ways. If you have made a big salad, then the worst thing that you can do is to store all of the ingredients together in a salad bowl. The reason for this is that certain ingredients will last longer than others. If you don’t want the salad to go bad, then you should make sure that certain components are stored separately from each other. For example, if you have sliced avocado in your salad, then this is going to discolor quite quickly and if it is stored with the other salad ingredients it is going to affect them too. This is why it is so important that you learn about the different components and how they should be stored so that you can get the maximum usage from your leftovers.
6. Wasting Ingredients That Could Be Used
Millions of people will make the mistake of throwing away ingredients that could still be used, simply because the best before date says that they are no longer useable. However, it is important to remember that at one point in time, we didn’t have best before or use by dates. Humans simply relied on their senses to figure out if food was bad or good. So many of us chuck away fruit and vegetables that are still perfectly useable. They might not be of the best quality, but they certainly don’t need throwing away. For example, you may go into your fridge and notice that the vegetables in there are not as firm as they were, or they may appear to have changed color slightly. Whilst they may not taste fantastic on their own used as fresh ingredients, they are perfect for a soup. By chucking all of your leftover vegetables into a soup and blending them you can create a delicious dish that is good for you and tastes great. Leftover meat can be used for new dishes too. The point is, you should always rely on your senses rather than best before or use by dates. You could potentially save yourself huge amounts of money and avoid so much waste.
5. Not Making the Most of the Freezer
This is a biggie. Take a look in your freezer – chances are that it I stocked full of delicious frozen good such as fries, pizza and fried chicken. Sure, these foods might be delicious, but they aren’t exactly good for you, unless eaten in moderation. What many people fail to realize is that the freezer is the perfect place to make the most of your leftovers. For example, if you have cooked a large lasagne and there are leftovers that you don’t really want to have for a meal the next day, then simply freeze it! By doing this, you have a meal that you can simply defrost when you want it and absolutely no waste to worry about at all. Another thing that you can do is to freeze your leftover fruit and vegetables that have started to lose their flavor and texture. By simply blanching them, you are able to freeze them in batches so that they are ready to use when you want them. Again, this can save you a lot of money in the long run and prevent you from wasting food. Another thing that many people may not realize is that you can actually freeze things like sauces and soups, so if you cook these in large batches then you are able to freeze them so that they are ready for whenever you want to use them.
4. Not Organizing Your Fridge and Pantry
If you have ever gone shopping and bought items only to realize that you actually already have them at home then you are not alone, this is something that we have all done at some point or another. However, the problem is that this often leads to a lot of food wastage. The problem that a lot of people have is that they simply don’t organize their pantry and refrigerator properly, so they can’t see what they have and what they don’t. The problem with this is that by the time you realize what food you actually have available at home, they will probably have expired and are no longer useable. This means that you are not only wasting food that was perfectly good when it was purchased, but you are also wasting money too. By simply organizing your pantry and your fridge, you will be able to see everything that you have in there properly. This will allow you to plan your meals accordingly so that there is nothing wasted at all. It takes a little time and practice to get everything organized properly but it is so worth it!
3. Cooking Portions That Are Far Too Big
For most of us, it is very easy to get carried away in the kitchen, especially if you are cooking for other people. We have all been there; you have invited friends and family around for food and you feel like you are required to feed the five thousand. It happens. Food is love after all, and what better way to show how much your loved ones mean to you than by preparing a feast of gigantic proportions! However, there is a problem here. By doing this, you are likely to end up with huge amounts of leftovers. Although you can always give your leftovers to your guests to take home, the chances are that they are going to be very full from your fantastic feast and leftovers are not likely to be all that appealing to them once they have fallen into a food coma. This is why it is a much better idea to really think about the portion sizes that you are cooking. Of course, it is always a good idea to cook a little extra for those with bigger appetites, but it is important that you don’t go too crazy. This will save you the time and stress of having to figure out what exactly you should do with the mountains of food that you have left.
2. Seeing ‘Leftovers’ Instead of ‘Ingredients’
When you have cooked an exceptionally large meal for friends and family, particularly around the holiday season and it is very easy to look at the mountain of food that you have left and think “Oh my goodness, what on earth am I going to do with all of these leftovers”. The problem is not the leftovers, it is your way of thinking! Rather than looking at the food and seeing ‘leftovers’ you need to be looking at them and thinking ‘ingredients’. This new way of thinking is great because it will allow you to get creative with your cooking. You can conjure up all sorts of culinary delights when you start to see your leftover ingredients as potential ingredients for new dishes. The possibilities for cooking with leftovers really are endless when you use a little creativity and think outside of the box. It will also make cooking with your leftovers much more enjoyable when you allow yourself to get a little creative in the kitchen. Everyone loves to come up with a new recipe, especially if it is one that really works and that people end up loving.
1. Remember That There Are People Who Will Be Grateful For Your Leftovers
When it comes to the holiday season, it is a good idea to think about those who are less fortunate than us. The simple fact is that there are millions of people out there both on the streets and in their own homes who won’t be able to enjoy a feast this year. Yes, there are charities out there that will be able to help them, but not everyone has access to these services and will miss out. If you find that you are left with a mountain of leftover food this season, then it can be a great idea to take to the streets of your neighborhood and see if there are any people who are down on their luck who would really appreciate a hot meal. It may sound like something so simple, but a gesture like this can make the world of difference to somebody who is struggling!
As you can see, there are plenty of things that you should definitely not be doing with your leftover food, and plenty of things that you should be doing too. It is so important that we don’t waste food. Not only are there people all over the world struggling who aren’t able to afford to buy the food that we waste, but food waste affects all kinds of other things too. By simply doing a few things differently, we are able to cut food wastage by huge amounts. These are little changes that we can all make with no extra stress that can make a huge difference. If you find that you are guilty of wasting food, whether it is fresh or not, then now is the time to take a look at these 10 common mistakes that people make with their leftovers and see how you can avoid making them yourselves. You will find that you not only cut food wastage in your household, but that you are also saving yourself a lot of money every month. The small change will definitely be worth it!