Leftovers are a touchy subject. I’ve found that people either love them, hate them, or just deal with them. I want to help you better “deal” with your leftovers and eventually turn to love them.
Several years ago, while I was on the phone with John and thinking about what to eat for dinner, I stood staring at the leftover monster that was taking over our refrigerator. I told him that we had a bunch of random leftovers in the fridge that were about to expire. He quickly replied, “let’s have Must-Go,” I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. I thought he was going to tell me about an Italian meal I’d never heard of. He then explained that his grandmother called leftovers Must-Go because everything must go. I loved it! I quickly adapted it to our family and added an extra twist.
So what exactly is Must-Go?
Must-Go is a combination of many things. Must-Go includes, but is not limited to:
- meals from the previous nights (leftovers)
- meals from the freezer that need to go (frozen leftovers, frozen pizza, etc.).
- meals made from ingredients we already have on hand but need to go(chicken quesadillas, breakfast, a big salad, etc.)
Leftovers from the fridge
I always start with the fridge food, if we have leftovers from the week that we don’t mind eating again—I call that our Must-Go dinner for the night. It’s easy as pie. A little microwave warming action and bam!–dinner is done!
Freezer Meals/ Freezer Leftovers
My next Must-Go dinner is from the freezer. I stock up our freezer each month with things like salmon, french fries, waffles, chicken, shrimp, broccoli, edamame, etc. But the most important part is how I stock our freezer with meals.
We’re a small family, so we always have leftovers from our meal and instead of cramping the fridge with a bunch of leftovers I take a look in the fridge to see if there is room. If there isn’t much space I whip out a trusty gallon-sized Ziploc® bag and fill it with the leftover meal. I make sure to write the meal on the bag and date because all meals begin to look the same in the freezer. I then jot down the meal on a notepad on the fridge so I can remember what we have in the freezer instead of rummaging through the icy cold.
When we don’t feel like eating the leftovers from the fridge I can take a freezer meal out. If the freezer meal is only one serving I mark that on the bag and make a note on our notepad, that way John or I can have it for lunch.
I love implementing this tactic of placing leftovers in the freezer. By doing so, we can eat something different each night of the week without wasting food and our fridge isn’t dominated by the leftover monster.
The other part of Must-Go night is helping to boost my confidence in the kitchen and use my throw-it-together creative side–which I lack. If we don’t have leftover meals from the fridge or freezer that we want to eat on a given night, I try to throw together a simple meal from the ingredients we have on hand; things I know that will end up going bad if we don’t use them or just extra ingredients we have. This can be challenging (because it’s so tempting to just pick something up from the store) but we had great success this past week.
Instead of having frozen pizza one night, I made a flatbread pizza using ingredients we already had. I had a roll of Pillsbury® pizza dough, pizza sauce, mozzarella, chicken(already cooked for lunches), watercress, and mushrooms. I put all this on the dough, baked it, and bam!—we had dinner.
The next night was also a leftover night, and I didn’t want to eat any of the meals we had in the freezer. So I made Salmon (we had a bag of frozen filets) with french fries and yummy Italian seasoned green beans.
I was so proud of myself for coming up with these oh-so-simple meals at the last minute and not having to go to the store to get anything new. I just used what we already had.
So often I think I have to cook straight from a recipe. But I proved to myself once again that I can be creative with the things we have in the kitchen—with little time to spare. By the way, I made these both up as John was on his way home from work. 🙂
Planning Must-Go Night
I usually plan two Must-Go nights a week. We’re a small family, so this helps us avoid wasting food. If you have a bigger family you might not need Must-Go every week, you may need only one or two a month. Adapt it to serve your family.
I hope Must-Go can enter your household as it did ours. It’s spared our fridge from being a cold storage unit for expired food. 🙂 And surprisingly, Must-Go’s are continuing to make me more creative and confident in the kitchen. It certainly helps to have a well-supplied pantry of ingredients to pull from to make meals like the pizza and salmon night all possible. I’ll be posting this month about all the pantry items I like to keep on hand just for the unexpected and the grumbly tummy.