Leftovers vs. No Leftovers

Anne

Are you in the leftover or no leftover camp? I try very hard to not throw out leftovers....while trying to turn the leftovers into something new. I married into a family where I think they throw out perfectly good food. ( I am talking throwing food out during dinner cleanup, not stuff that sat in the fridge). Interestingly enough, I never wanted for fresh, healthy food while in my husbands family his parents as small children were very poor. DH didn't experience that growing up but I think maybe his parents childhood influenced the way they see food.

What is your attitude towards leftover/food waste and also "revamping" leftover food?

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amylou321

I am team NO leftovers. I try very hard to only cook what we will eat for one meal,save things like chili or pasta that I can freeze for SO (not me) to eat at some later date. I don't like eating leftover food, and no one has been able to fool me by trying to remake it into something else. Shepard's pie made from leftover pot roast tastes like leftover pot roast. If I make too much of something and i know we will not eat it I discard it right away rather than let it sit and mutate in the fridge. Usually the extras go to the dogs or the random cats that roam through our property.

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plllog

I usually cook expecting to have enough to make something else out of, or "leftovers" if it's the kind of thing that is good the next day. Stews and soups, beans, and other "pot" foods are usually better after they've sat in the fridge and been rewarmed. Most braises are great rewarmed. Many casseroles are good cold out of the fridge. Roasts are good as sandwich filling, salad ingredient, etc. Even ordering in Chinese or something, which usually happens when there's not much to make a meal out of in the fridge, I'll get enough for leftovers, and sometimes things that are meant for the next day.

I also do cook and freeze, but that's another story.

ETA--Amylou, I don't blame you! Shepard's pie shouldn't taste like pot roast, and I'd never do that. I will take a bunch of leftovers and make a nice casserole however. How good it is depends on the cook.

I'm not a fast cook. I can whip something up, but I enjoy it more if I can dwell on the process and take my time. I wouldn't have time to do anything else if I cooked the way I do for every dinner, let alone other meals. Some things are 2-3 days to make in the first place.

OTOH, if I don't have anything planned for less than a full a cup of cooked rice nad no room in the fridge, I don't mind throwing it out. I'd never use it if I shoved it in a freezer. If there's half a portion of something delicious, I will save it, figuring it'll be a snack for someone.

My mother read a Julia Child recipe for a fancy pâté and exclaimed, "She forgot an important step!" What was it? "Feed the pot roast to your family." It seemed silly to her to make just enough meat for the final product when, indeed, the recipe was for a pot roast, and one could make more, serve it for dinner and grind what was left. Follow, Julia's lead, she has also made a pâté out of chicken cacciatore. :)

In general, I like leftovers.

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Angela Id

I don't eat leftovers. Husband loves them. Works for us.

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Fun2BHere

I like planned leftovers, like cooking a package of chicken breasts, using two for dinner and using the leftovers in a salad for lunch the next day. If I boil eggs, I'll boil extra and use them in tuna salad or egg salad. When we indulge in takeout pizza, we love to have leftovers for lunch the next day. If I make chicken soup, I'll freeze some portions for future meals. Planned leftovers are a time saver for us.

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Anne

I think the statistic is that about 1200 dollars of food are wasted a year by each family....I try not to waste and I think that is a low figure (maybe because I live in the DMV which is very pricey). I am not the best at it but I just can't see taking, let's say half a serving bowl of salad and throwing it out...I put it in a container with a paper towel to keep it from getting mealy and the next night it might be served with grilled meat. And I have never made pate' in my life but that was smart of Julia!

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Anne

Pillog....When we order Chinese takeout and have leftover white rice the dogs get a "treat" of white rice and pumpkin puree....We feel less guilty about being lazy and ordering out...

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

I love leftovers!! And if you are a single person that likes to cook, you better like leftovers cuz it's darn hard to be very creative and NOT generate leftovers!

Casseroles, soups and stews I can freeze for later and I share with my sister. But I often intentionally cook larger portions of some things just so I can have the leftovers - grilled or baked salmon so I can make salmon cakes or loaf; extra steak for sandwiches or salad toppings. Leftover pot roast or corned beef (and accompanying veg) become hash...often more looked forward to than the original meal. And what would life be without leftover roast chicken? A good many of the recipes I make with chicken can use leftover chicken just as easily as fresh cooked - chicken salad for sandwiches, chicken soup, enchiladas, chicken ala king, chicken curry, etc. And Thanksgiving leftovers are just the best, period!

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amylou321

I have been trying to think of something, anything that I like leftover. The only thing I can think if is pizza. And even then, only for a day after. And it has to be either homemade or from one particular local place. Other than that, I cant really think of anything.

Maybe it's because I cook Thanksgiving dinner most years (including this year) and by the time dinner comes I am sick of looking at at it and therefore usually don't even eat it fresh. Or very little of it anyway. And I absolutely will not eat it leftover either. Luckily I have a sister nearby who has a large family and she usually takes all the leftovers from any family gathering. Seems to work out. I cook it all at my house, deliver it to whomever is hosting,and don't have to tote anything back home. Well, except a pie. It's my fee. I will cook the whole meal as long as I am presented with a homemade pumpkin pie and no leftovers. Does the pie count as leftovers? If it does then I can add that to my short list......

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cooper8828

I love leftovers at my house. This weekend leftover Italian sausage and peppers became a pizza topping. I was off today so one pot of chili and one pot of vegetable soup. The cornbread is in the oven now. Granted, some things just don't do well the second time around and that is when I'm careful to only make the amount to be consumed that day. I also eat small amounts of leftovers for lunch. I'm trying really hard to reduce food waste so leftovers it is.

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Sooz

I love leftovers, and in fact, have "planned" leftovers unless DH goes back for thirds and fourths! Usually, though, I'll make a meal with the idea of putting some aside for 2 days in the future. Sometimes, I'll reinvent the leftovers into something else, but usually not. Good food, plenty of it, and the flavors meld in many leftovers so that your palate can really enjoy that depth of flavor that you wouldn't get the first time out.

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colleenoz

I like leftovers too, sometimes I get creative with them, sometimes not. I don’t like to waste food.

Sometimes I even plan for leftovers, such as extra rice for fried rice another day (it’s better with day old cooked rice) or an Indian rice pudding I make that uses cooked rice.

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annie1992

It depends on the leftovers. I've never had a chicken pot pie that wasn't made from leftover chicken and I think things like chili and lasagna are better the second day. When I was working I planned leftovers on purpose and then packed them in my lunch for the next day. Soup is soup, mostly, so how ever many times it gets warmed up doesn't affect it much, it's still soup.

There are things I really don't like as leftovers, like pancakes. No matter what you do to them, they are still just warmed up pancakes. Biscuits, on the other hand, are just fine. (shrug) I like beef rare, so warming it up makes it too well cooked for my taste and other than pulled pork, warming up pork is seldom a good idea, it's just not very good.

Fortunately, Elery consumes leftovers just about as happily as he eats the original dish. He'll put an egg on top of anything from leftover beans to last night's greens to leftover roasted vegetables and he's good with it. Douse it liberally with hot sauce and it all tastes like hot sauce, LOL.

Annie

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bragu_DSM 5

we call them 'planned overs'


learning how to cook for two, after cooking for five .... two of which were boys with hearty appetites, is a learning curve. I like to cook extra on the weekend for the weekday nights when you are out of oomph, and warming up a meal is nice n quick.


and many times, extra time in the fridge allows the flavors 'to marry.'

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plllog

I just remembered! Another great thing about leftovers. Sunday's dinner with the elders went far awry (literally--it was on order and went to the wrong address). At their house, the fridge was bare of anything to cook in place of the planned meal, but on my second pass I found a container with chicken and veg left from Friday (someone else's day to cook). It had a lot of....what's it called? gelatinous chicken goo?...so I just dumped it in a shallow Corningware dish and zapped it, hoping for the best. I found a little cooked rice, which i warmed on the stove. It was sufficient. The chicken even got hot through and not petrified, which is a miracle in a microwave. It was sufficient to get us to cake. :) Leftovers to the rescue!!

Amylou, unless the pie is less than half of the original, with little bits cut off here and there for the auntie who just wants a nibble, it's not "leftover". If you're paid in pie, it's pay and better not be nibbled on! OTOH, I'm totally with you on the Thanksgiving leftovers. I hate them even if I didn't cook them. I could maybe make an allowance for bread or matzah stuffing, if it's really moist and good out of the fridge. I can make good things out of leftover roast turkey, but I don't want to! Not after a feast. After a feast, I don't want anything that isn't grab and go, like yoghurt and crunchy veg. I wouldn't judge other leftovers by Thanksgiving, though I totally get it about not wanting to face it if you cooked it. I can feel like that, but usually get over it after a day.

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lindac92

I love most leftovers....leftover [pot roast....sliced and warmed in the gravy, on a slice of bread....mashed potato cakes, leftover mashed potatoes mixed with an egg and fried in butter. Second day soup! Stew!! Lasagna!!
About the only thing I won't save is leftover dressed salad nor cooked vegetables....except for roasted ones.....which are awesome warmed and depending on what served on a crustade as you would bruschetta.
I'll toss a cooked hot dog....and feed a leftover burger to the dog and sail pancakes out to the squirrels.

One time at my sister-in-laws she was throwing pout half a roasted chicken breast and a thigh. I said SAVE IT!! and she said are you going to eat THAT?
Well her husband was at work the next day and I said I'll make us lunch.....and I made a bit of chicken salad out of the leftovers.....she said "Where did you get the chicken?"....I said it's last night's chicken.
I love rice or noodles warmed in milk, sprinkled with cinnamon and nut meg for breakfast...my great grandmother fixed that.
Apparently those who say they won't eat leftovers are in the minority because when I do a church meal, the leftovers are in great demand.

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yeonassky

I love leftovers. That said I don't like food that's been sitting in the fridge for too long. For me that's probably 3 days. 2 days is fine. That is why I freeze so much of the leftovers right away. I freeze it in individual meal sized containers and we eat it at will.

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colleenoz

We especially love leftover Christmas turkey and ham, so much so that I cook a 12lb turkey and a similar size ham just for the two of us :-). It helps that Christmas is high summer here so sandwiches are always popular.

I agree that leftover pancakes are :-P But I dice up leftover pork and toss it into risotto with lemon and asparagus. It’s pretty good.

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laceyvail 6A, WV

I love leftovers. The thought of throwing out perfectly good food horrifies me. I look forward often to the dish I will make with the leftovers, and often think of a comment my Dad used to make when we had steak or a roast: "Won't this be great tomorrow on a sandwich!"

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ratherbesewing

Everyday cooking is a chore to me. My method is to cook once, and eat twice. If my DH didn't like leftovers, he would need to cook more frequently!

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ritaweeda

We eat leftovers here. There are exceptions such as seafood and fried food (which I seldom cook anyway). Besides, such things as chili, stew, soup, etc. taste better the next day anyway. I'm glad DH doesn't mind leftovers as it gives me a break from having to cook every day. I don't often remake a dish, though, with the exception of roast chicken, ham, turkey. I don't freeze cooked food, either - I'm sure that if I were to freeze it I'd never go back and bother to find it and thaw it out later.

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colleenoz

“exceptions such as seafood ” But you need leftover fish to make fish cakes! Also leftover mashed potato :-D

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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I don't think of it as leftovers but just food. It's either good or bad. I almost always cook enough for 2 or three meals except when making big freezer stuff- soups, chili's etc.

I don't need to turn the original food into something else either, I liked it originally or I didn't. Knowing how to reheat helps, crispy does better in an oven, for instance.

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Jasdip

You bet!!! Hubby and I both loved leftovers! Whether the same meal re-heated or turned into something else altogether, it didn't matter.

Sunday was, and still is, the day to cook a big meal with the deliberate intent of having leftovers.

I still cook too much, now for me. With 2 I always cooked enough for 4, and I still cook enough for 4!!!

Rita said the exact thing how I feel about freezing leftovers/meals. I'm trying to get in the habit of doing it, when I have just one more piece of roast, or turkey breast and I don't want to throw it out. So it's wrapped and labelled in the freezer, hopefully I'll be able to find them, and do something with it.

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foodonastump

My mom seems to be able to take any random leftovers and turn it onto a meal. Unfortunately I didn’t inherit that skill. I’ve got nothing against leftovers, as long as they’re reheatable without getting ruined. My biggest problem with leftovers is not eating them day one. If I double-cook to get a second meal, inevitably we’ll eat too much and then all that’s left is lunch for one at best. So now we overate at dinner, I overate at lunch, and I still have to cook tonight.

I actually prefer pizza as leftovers! The crust has dried out a bit and I reheat in the oven until it all starts to burn. Yum!

Rita - I’d be curious as to how you reheat fried food. That tends not to work out well for me.

Freezer? Despite best intentions, more often than not the freezer is the garbage can’s waiting room.

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ritaweeda

Foodonastump, I guess I didn't make it clear - I don't do fried food leftovers. For one thing the taste and texture are never right and another thing is I just don't do fried foods very often. I don't like to stand over the stove with a pan of fried anything except for bacon and eggs and although I dearly love fried foods they don't like me.

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lindac92

Leftover fried chicken? heat in the oven until the crust re crisps and enjoy....or eat it cold!....works with most fried things.


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Lars

I intentionally make leftovers, especially rice dishes but also bean dishes, such as my Texas bean dip and hummus. I don't like most fried foods leftover, but I will eat leftover fried chicken. For me, creating leftovers saves time. I make a lot of dishes with my bean dip, including burritos, tacos, migas, etc. I generally have leftover guacamole when I make that.

Colleen, you can make salmon cakes with fresh salmon if you use Marilyn's recipe, which is my favorite way to make them. I also like them with leftover salmon, although I tend to make salmon salad with leftover salmon. I will make tuna salad with leftover tuna - I never buy canned salmon or tuna, except for emergencies.

Refried rice is generally made with leftover rice.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

For a number of dishes, mainly stews & similar, if you don't have leftovers, you miss out on the much improved flavor the next day.

Definitely in the leftover camp - except for a few things that aren't that great the next day. I do not want to, nor am always able to cook every day, and we eat very little in the way of processed foods, so I often make large amounts of 'better the next day' dishes.

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foodonastump

Sorry Rita - You were clear, I misread. I lost my progressives in the harbor a month ago and I’m still not accustomed to reaching for readers. I misread (and miswrite) a lot these days.

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Andie

I've never tried to "remake" leftovers. They are what they are. Fortunately, both dh & I are happy to eat them when the need arises.

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2ManyDiversions

bragu - that's funny! I like that name : ) Yup, love leftovers. Like Lars, I often intentionally make leftovers, but mostly to freeze. Last night: beef stroganoff, for 6. There are only 2 of us, so 2 more meals at a later date : )

Since joining GW, I've actually made more an effort to utilize leftovers - as well as the contents of my veggie bins. I dislike discarding food when I can be consumed. Pizzas last year were a fantastic way to use leftovers, but 'as originally was' is fine with us too. I often skip a night, then use the leftovers, though.

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2ManyDiversions

Foas, just saw your comment: "Freezer? Despite best intentions, more often than not the freezer is the garbage can’s waiting room." As I cleaned out our freezer this summer, tossing too much out - and agree, this was often the case in the past, I vowed never to let that happen again. I saved what was not beyond dates, and made the rule I had to use it. We've actually enjoyed meals because I had to use leftovers found in the freezers : ) And thus far, I've done well not to let our freezer get overloaded with too much.

And darn it, I agree about the readers! Mine are in the other room and I can't tell if I've got a period or comma up there. Guess I'll call it a comma...

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beesneeds

I'm in the leftovers camp. Some food is meant to be reheat and eat.. soups, stews, lasagna, and a whole bunch more. Sometimes it's fridge lunch leftovers, or eat another dinner of... I often make dinners with freezer leftovers in mind and I have a shelf in one of my freezers that's just for leftovers. Helps keep that stuff in goodly rotation.

Some is more use again a second time- and right handy that prep part was already done. Cold mashed taters or whole baked ones, rice, pasta. Meats. Handy to already have that chicken breast or grilled steak ready to slice and go, or the extra couple fillets of fish cooked off to make fish cakes with. Baked winter squash allowed to chill and settle before scooping.

And in some ways... much food we process and cook and store off is leftovers. You didn't eat it all the day you made it, right?

At the same time, some stuff just is not good leftovers. Fried food rarely works a second round. Eggs in almost any form suffer in reheat (though they can rock the scene as a cold leftover)



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cookebook

I purposely cook to have leftovers for lunches. Plus it's hard for me to cook "small". I grew up in a family of six and learned to cook from my mother. Then in college I had lots of roommates to cook for. After that I didn't bother trying. Leftovers are fine by me. I do agree with some of the above comments that not everything is good warmed up like fried food.

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plllog

I'm not big on frying, but I've heard that deep fried fried foods like chicken or french fries, are best rewarmed in the fryer (not so much pan fried things of the kind that soak up more oil). I wonder if our opinions of rewarming fried foods will change with the advent of "air fry" ovens.

I ran some tests on Mr. Picky, learning to fry chicken strips and shrimp, which are both things he'll eat, freezing them, and reheating them in the oven. He is very picky about flavor, texture, moisture, etc. I figured if I could make something he'd like well ahead of time, it would be easy enough to rewarm on a feast day. Once I'd found recipes and learned to fry them so he'd like them, we did the reheating tests and he liked them just fine. I did too and I'm my own worst critic.

I don't know if this would work with large pieces of bone-in fried chicken, but for the floured breast strips and the battered shrimp, I think it's 10 minutes at 350° F, from partly thawed. Take out the food before you turn on the oven. Lay the pieces out on a thin wire rack (cake cooling type) on a baking sheet, so there won't be soggy stuff and to catch falling crumbs. Let the oven come up to full heat, not just the end of the pre-heat cycle.

The results aren't like fresh out of the oil, but sufficient enough to please Mr. Picky. Of course, once I mastered this, we haven't had such big, crazy feasts that I couldn't just broil a steak for him...

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annie1992

2many, we have a name for those freezer meals: POOF. Pulled Out Of Freezer. So if someone said they "poofed" dinner, well, that was it. We also have Pulled Out Of Pantry, but POOPing a meal sounds less magical, LOL.

My current "goal" is to use something from the freezer, something from the pantry and something from the garden every night when I make supper. I've done pretty well so far.

bragu, I had an Assistant Prosecutor who took a job with us, he was a young 20-something man and his family was several hours away. He was staying in a local motel during the week and going home on weekends, waiting for his rental to become available and ready for habitation. We took turns bringing him meals, because there were no cooking facilities in the motel, usually whatever was for dinner the night before. He called it "used food", and accepted it gratefully, LOL.

Annie

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bragu_DSM 5

hmmm .... how about pulled out of larder ... POOL

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lindac92

I Pull out of the Fridge....it's all "POOF"...magic....almost no cooking and it's dinner!

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colleenoz

“Used food”... that’s a mental image to avoid...

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party_music50

I love leftovers! either as original, like a sauerbraten dinner -- or reinvented, especially as soups! Leftovers can be lunch, or a snack, or I now combine various leftovers to make a quick dinner. I also hate waste of any kind and wasted food really bothers me. :p

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

I do most of the cooking on the weekends and plan extra so I have leftovers to take for work lunches at least 2 or 3 days the next week. During the week my DW does most of the cooking and there is usually not much leftover by design. She won't eat leftovers.

I'm having left over cheese Manicotti, cheesy bread, and a fresh from the garden side salad leftover from Sunday dinner for my lunch today. Yippee!

Now I made myself hungry already!

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fillmoe

We have a lot of mystery soups made from leftover potatoes, vegetables, beans, etc., plus chicken broth in the blender. Also can throw in chunks of meat or chicken.

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Feathers11

I grew up in a family of 7 and grandparents who lived through the Depression, so the very thought of throwing away food practically sends me to my therapist. My husband doesn't care for leftovers, and that's been a point of contention (since I do all the cooking). But he will eat repurposed food, so that's usually my strategy.

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beesneeds

This thread is making me laugh. As much as I'm in the hooray for leftovers camp... my sister is a big ole NOPE about leftovers. There are a few specific dishes she will be ok with- a couple soups/stews or something built specific for leftovers, like shepherds pie. And she builds the hell out of one of the best shepherds pies I've ever had.. probably to overcome her dislike of leftovers, heh.

For a couple years, I had the good fortune of having her and mom living with me- and she learned how to like my habits of using up leftovers. And get better about how to use up leftover already prepped cooking ingredients. I learned about her aversions to using some leftovers, and rightly so.

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Anne

Thank you all for sharing your responses. I find it interesting. I think we all should think with thought....so if you don't like leftovers cook smaller (I tend to cook "big", therefore leftover food)...I think there are so many thoughtful cooks here who do such a great job of feeding their families and using whole foods...I am so impressed.

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cynic

If I'm making pancakes, I try for only what I'll eat, since I can't deal with reheated ones. Otherwise, most comfort foods are in the category of cook (hence clean up) once, eat twice or more. I'm very open to utilizing things in other ways but don't get hung up on "it has to be 'different'" philosophy. And I choke back vomit when I see someone try to make a meatloaf and mashed potatoes look like a cake. UGH!

I grew up eating leftovers. I still aim for "premeditated" leftovers. It more economical, just as tasty most of the time and often it can taste better. If it's too much, a freezer can be your friend. And I am a strong supporter of saving energy, both appliance and mine. Since the health issues set in, standing at the stove for hours is no longer a regular option.

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