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Leftovers again? Not At Sarah’s House.

on January 30, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 9.35.15 AM {Written By Guest Blogger, Sarah)
I admit it. I hate leftovers. You know what I hate even more than leftovers? Wasting food. Quite
the conundrum, especially when I have a tendency to cook for a crowd of ten instead of cooking for
a party of five. If I don’t like to eat the same meal three nights in a row, how can I expect my kids to
eat the same meal three nights in a row? How can I use up all those leftovers when we don’t like
leftovers?! If I was a really good planner, we would never have leftovers, right? I wish I could say
that I make a weekly meal plan and stick to it, but I definitely do not. I don’t even make a list for the
grocery store when I am doing a big shop. I buy what looks good and what I am in the mood for,
which usually results in a lot of food being wasted. I like to think of myself as a “free spirit in the
kitchen”, having options and not being tied down to a meal plan. (“Free spirit” is the polite version
of “disorganized mom of three boys who is too lazy to make a meal plan and grocery list.”) I am
trying to shed that “free spirit” way of thinking and become more organized in meal planning and
grocery shopping, but baby steps, right? First things first… NO MORE WASTING FOOD.

Without fail, everyday sometime before lunchtime, my kids or husband will ask, “what’s for dinner?”
The old me would come up with something before perusing the array of glass containers full
of leftovers in the refrigerator. I would make a chicken dish despite having leftover pork in the
refrigerator. That pork would then sit there for a few days, along with the chicken I would make, and
both would eventually get thrown out. Shame on me, right? There are starving children out there!
I know, I know! So I have started “shopping” in my own refrigerator to see what is available before
blurting out “CHICKEN!” Or ordering a pizza.

I have started to make extra of things I am cooking for the purpose of turning them into a different
meal later in the week. For example, Monday night I made a pasta dish with spicy chicken sausage
I picked up at Whole Foods. I cooked up all the sausage, but only used a few links in the pasta dish.
I decided I could use the leftover sausage in some soup, the leftover homemade pasta sauce could
be used for pizza, and I used the leftover orechiette to make a pasta dish with zucchini and tomatoes
last night. No more wasting! We are eating leftovers, but not in their original form. Who wants to
eat the same thing night after night? After all, variety is the spice of life.

Leftover wild or brown rice can be used to make a healthy stir fry or used in a chicken, rice,
and grape salad. I like to make a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and add it to
scrambled eggs or yogurt for my sons. Any meat can be shredded and transformed into tacos by
adding spices and your favorite toppings. Leftover veggies can be used in quesadillas or scrambled
eggs. If I am roasting sweet potatoes for my youngest son, I like to roast an extra one to turn into
sweet potato hummus. The ideas are endless. A perk of using what you have to make another dish
is that there is little prep or clean up, and dishes come together quickly since everything is already
cooked.

I decided to make that soup I mentioned above today because it feels like it is 2 degrees outside.
I also did not want the chicken sausage to sit another day. I quickly scanned my refrigerator to
see what else I could add to the soup. I had leftover lentils and chicken stock, and I always have a
bag of spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs on hand. So chicken sausage, lentil, and
spinach soup it was!

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 9.35.01 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Sausage, Lentil and Spinach Soup

1/2 onion, diced

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

2 links of chicken sausage, diced (whichever variety you prefer. mine was spicy italian)

2 cups of cooked lentils

26 oz. chopped tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

Few handfuls of spinach

Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

Shredded parmesan for topping

Sautee onion & garlic until translucent. Add the thyme and cook until fragrant. Add the diced
chicken sausage and cooked lentils and cook until warm. Add tomatoes and chicken stock and
bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until your heart desires. Add spinach a few minutes before
you are ready to serve. Salt and pepper to taste, and top with fresh parmesan.

The beauty of this soup is that you really could use anything you have in your refrigerator. No
chicken sausage? Use roasted chicken or omit meat altogether. No spinach? Use kale. No
Thyme? Try a different herb like rosemary or basil. Want to spice it up a bit more? Add red pepper
flakes.

There you have it! A tasty, filling, healthy, and warm lunch that used up four things sitting in my
refrigerator. Most importantly, my oldest and youngest sons loved it. My middle son would not go
near the soup since it was not a bagel, avocado, yogurt, or cheese. That’s right – I have been cursed
with a picky eater, but more on that later…

——————————————————————————————————-

Sarah lives in New Jersey with her husband and three little boys.  She loves to cook and have dance parties in her kitchen with her sons; she also dabbles in photography and interior design, and works hard at becoming a better baker.

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5 responses to “Leftovers again? Not At Sarah’s House.

  1. A Table in the Sun says:

    Soup is the best weapon in our battle against food waste. Power to you, Kitchen Queen!

  2. emilyloftis2013 says:

    What a great blog! Looking forward to more!

  3. Bachelor Type says:

    Great ideas! As a male for whom meat and fire are the only ingredients I know how to cook with, this was a wake up call to possibilities. I’m wondering if I can repurpose leftover Chinese takeout LOL…

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