Meatloaf Again?
October 7, 2015 11:09 AM   Subscribe

From today's Atlantic magazine: a treatise on the economic history of leftovers, and how America's overall rise to the status of economic superpower lead to their downshift from "budget-minded lifesaver" to "butt of jokes."

The Atlantic piece notes that the famed Joy of Cooking included an extensive section on leftovers in 1931. But only 20 years later, the mood had shifted:
In the early 1950s, [author Irma] Rombauer noted for the first time that too much budget-minded cooking could incite “family protest,” and she urged cooks not to think of leftovers as dreary. By the 1963 edition, the first published after Rombauer’s death, her daughter Marion Rombauer Becker drastically condensed the leftovers section and started it with a joke: “‘It seems to me,’ the minister said, after his new wife placed a dubious casserole on the table, ‘that I have blessed a good deal of this material before.’"
But the prejudice against leftovers may not just be economically unsound. According to a recent report from the United Nations Environment Program, about one third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or wasted, either during processing or consumption. In the United States, alone, that works out to about twenty pounds of food per person, per month. Most of that food waste goes into landfills - and organic waste, like food, makes up the second largest component of landfills, which are the planet's largest source of methane emissions.

Still, even those with the best intentions to re-use leftovers can get stumped about how to do so. In addition to the myriad web sites about how to re-use leftovers, there are also entire cookbooks devoted to the topic. Amazon lists five hundred and fifty-one titles on the topic. We've even tackled leftovers here on Metafilter:

How to Reheat Food, from Pizza to Pasta to Eggs (January 2014)

Strangers Feeding Strangers, on an "Airbnb for leftovers" mealshare service (August 2013)

"Holland's favorite snack" (January 2013)

How to grow new plants from food scraps (April 2012)

Of special note: World Food Day is October 16th this year. Reducing food waste is one way to ensure there's enough to go around for us all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (88 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wait, people don't like leftovers? Silly people.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:20 AM on October 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


We were brought up pretty poor and I don't think we ever had anything that could be described as leftovers, because meals were planned so nothing was left over, because we couldn't afford to have stuff sitting around that might not get used. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago and my conclusion (or more like a working theory/guess based on my experience only) was that leftovers was a middle class phenomenon, I don't think I would have even known it was a thing when I was a kid if it wasn't for TV cooks like Delia Smith talking about them.

Interesting post.
posted by biffa at 11:21 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Obligatory (at least it is in my mind whenever meatloaf is mentioned).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hit upon one of the oldest (and tastiest) strategies for consolidating odds and ends after a week's cookery: every other week during the cooler months, I make a pie from scratch with a filling built from roux and broth which includes the not-quite-a-full serving material hanging around the fridge. Some weeks it's mostly a chicken pot pie, some weeks it leans beefier and has a flavor profile more like Brunswick stew. At any rate, the pie goes away by the following friday.
posted by mwhybark at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Some weeks it's mostly a chicken pot pie, some weeks it leans beefier and has a flavor profile more like Brunswick stew.

I think "here's some stuff we had around, we put it in pot, enjoy!" is actually the Brunswick Stew origin story.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:32 AM on October 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


My wife makes what she calls "odds and ends curry' every two weeks or so out of the leftover chopped stems of broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, etc. It's pretty good, costs very little (we usually add some tomatoes and chickpeas and serve it over rice or lentils) and all of those stems we used to throw out add up to a lot of food.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:35 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bibimbap.
And bastardized versions thereof.
posted by Kabanos at 11:37 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obligatory (at least it is in my mind whenever meatloaf is mentioned)

Whereas for me, it's a Rocky Horror reference (gross but SFW) / audience response.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:38 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


As an adult, I do the thing where I cook massive quantities of a dish specifically so I can freeze the leftovers and eat them for lunch or for dinner on a day when I don't want to cook. I wonder, how does that fit into the broader panopticon of leftover classifications?

(It's awesome, incidentally. Really cuts down on the amount of cooking and dishwashing time too, as a bonus!)
posted by sciatrix at 11:38 AM on October 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I cook with an eye for leftovers. Yesterday's dinner is today's breakfast or lunch; Sunday's roast is Tuesday's tacos and Wednesday's curry, Thursday's stir-fry, maybe even Saturday's hash if I still haven't managed to use it all. It guts me to throw out leftovers that I've neglected in the back of the fridge. I'm trying to convince mrsozzy to stop buying rotisserie chickens at Costco because we never eat the whole thing and I hate, hate, hate breaking them down (and I'm the primary leftover artist).
posted by uncleozzy at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder, how does that fit into the broader panopticon of leftover classifications?

For me, "made lots of stuff to eat later" is a different classification than "reused ingredients and/or cooked meat and vegetables in a new dish." I do a bit of the former (usually making four or five servings for dinner so I get some lunches out of it), but very little of the latter, which what I think of when I think of "leftovers."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:46 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> . I'm trying to convince mrsozzy to stop buying rotisserie chickens at Costco because we never eat the whole thing and I hate, hate, hate breaking them down

Do you try to use utensils? I find that if I mostly use my hands and only occasionally a knife, in less than five minutes I've got a nice pile of chicken pieces ready to add a bit of protein to anything.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Great post, thanks! It's great to read about other people's experiences, such as biffa's.

I've had the opposite problem: my Jewish mother always cooked five times as much food as necessary (complaining the whole time about how exhausting the whole process is), and to this day we say to her, "y'know, even if you cooked only twice as much food as necessary, you'd still come out on top" and "you've never once run out of food for the guests before, it's not going to happen now" and "running out of food for the guests is actually not an earth-shattering kaboom." To no avail.

I generally hated leftovers, not so much because I had to eat the same thing for days on end, but more because I'm not a foodie and she is, and frankly sitting down to eat something with a completely different texture and flavor every night (she was creative with the leftovers) is exhausting. But I still love you, mom.
posted by sockerpup at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2015


Bibimbap.
And bastardized versions thereof.


So so so so so much "bibimbap" at our house. I can basically crack an egg over any dish and call it bibimbap, and it's magically transformed from "questionable combination of egg and rice" to "delicious healthy Korean treat"
posted by witchen at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Do you try to use utensils?

No, I use my hands, but I find it really unpleasant. There's very little in the kitchen that I mind doing, but something about handling the lukewarm-to-cold carcass with congealing grease sets my teeth on edge. Any other cut of meat, on or off the bone, no problem. But poultry carcasses just make me unhappy.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dislike leftovers. So around here we only buy and cook as much as we need. Voila, virtually no waste.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"running out of food for the guests is actually not an earth-shattering kaboom."
Actually, in my family (Dutch & Norwegian mostly, if it matters), especially with the great-grandmothers, running out of food for guests was about the worst offense imaginable. So much so that even now, I tend to overshoot on food when we have guests or host a dinner party.
posted by xedrik at 11:56 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I understand what you say about that over-all greasiness particular to poultry. I've only just recently started buying those roasters — I'll get back to you in a few months to see how if the charm is fading.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:57 AM on October 7, 2015


We were brought up pretty poor and I don't think we ever had anything that could be described as leftovers...

Same! Except for holiday ham and turkey, which took another day or two after the main event to finish off, everything we ate was single-serve (Easy Mac, Maruchan, pop-top microwave pasta) or eaten that day. There was no scratch cooking at all, and I mean literally none. Say what you will about living exclusively off of shelf-stable food, at least the portion sizes are such that I can always eat it all right then and there.

I had no idea leftovers were A Thing until I started scratch cooking for the first time in my life, well into my 20s, and I still struggle mightily with eating them myself instead of quietly pawning them all off on my roommate. When it comes to an already-cooked dish, even for stuff that's supposed to taste better when you let it sit for couple of days, no matter what StillTasty says, overnight is about the most refrigerator/storage time I can handle without feeling completely grossed out. It's a huge psychological hurdle and I have no idea how to get past it. I'd love to be able to spend my Sunday nights making a huge batch of whatever so I can just reheat it and eat it for the rest of week -- cooking a fresh new meal every damn day is a pain in the ass -- but I just... man, I just can't.
posted by divined by radio at 11:58 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This was actually inspired by my current roommate, who is a food historian here on a year-long research fellowship; we bonded during roommate-screening because I'm also a foodie, and she is a friend of a friend of the Atlantic article author and she sent me this because "I bet you'd like this!"

I frequently am forced to cook only for myself, for various reasons (I'd share with the roomie, but she has celiac disease and we've had to be careful about cross-contamination), so I've often had to do a lot of "how do we use this thing up" leftovers thinking. A couple fallbacks I've used are actually making my own potted meat spreads (fling cooked meet into a food processor along with enough butter to let it grind into a paste, season, dump into container, serve as a spread on toast) or stuff-on-pasta. I may experiment this year with "make hand pies out of random shit" as well.

The irony is that I'm actually more frugal and creative with leftovers than my mother was, and sometimes she is a bit baffled about that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:01 PM on October 7, 2015


Grocery store roast chicken loss leaders are the best deal out there. Especially Costco's, a big fat roast chicken for the price of a beer in a bar!
It is a bit messy dealing with the carcass. Maybe try throwing the whole thing in a pot of water and taking the meat and fat off after? The meat comes off easy after stewing for a while and the fat easiest when you take it out of the fridge the next day.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:08 PM on October 7, 2015


I started coming down with a cold as we were taking the train home from our holiday last week. Knowing my freezer was packed with Tupperware containers full of freezer-friendly leftovers and batch-cooked stuff was a huge relief, given how wretched I felt.
posted by skybluepink at 12:09 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The trick for bulk meal making is to have a freezer. And a slow cooker. Many soups and stews improve with age. But I don't think you can call them leftovers. Leftovers are accidentally too-much and end up in the garbage. If you actually plan (and do) eat them, they're not leftover so much as pre-made.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:10 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


A couple fallbacks I've used are actually making my own potted meat spreads (fling cooked meet into a food processor along with enough butter to let it grind into a paste, season, dump into container, serve as a spread on toast) or stuff-on-pasta. I may experiment this year with "make hand pies out of random shit" as well.

No croquettes?
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I'm hardly religious at all, but wasting food is a sin.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


‘It seems to me,’ the minister said, after his new wife placed a dubious casserole on the table, ‘that I have blessed a good deal of this material before.’

I love leftovers, but this is pretty funny.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:26 PM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm still sort of shocked when I meet people whose parent(s) cooked a different meal each night of the week. It sounds like the height of decadence to me, as I grew up apparently eating leftovers five to six night a weeks.
posted by griphus at 12:30 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Homemade pizza is the ultimate leftover disposal.

Though the pies are a close second.
posted by booooooze at 12:35 PM on October 7, 2015


People wonder why they are so broke - I love leftovers, compared to coworkers who eat out all but at the last day or two before pay periods because they are so broke. I recently had a conversation with one said coworker and we compared our food budgets - what she spent in one week eating out was alittle under my entire month budget for food ($300 in case anyone is wondering).

I don't live in a high COL area either, it's just a small to mid size suburb of Minneapolis and I eat well - eating out is expensive and I would prefer that money go towards beer.
posted by lpcxa0 at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I know the answer to this now, but if someone had said something about not having leftovers to me as a kid, I might have seriously responded "Without leftovers, do you just not eat lunch the next day or what?"

Even though I'm better off than my parents were at that time and am not trying to feed 5 people, that's pretty much what I've turned into now by choice. 60% of the family recipes my partner and I know how to do is probably better the next day, which I'm only now realizing was probably a reason they became family favorites. We were eating them all week.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually, in my family (Dutch & Norwegian mostly, if it matters), especially with the great-grandmothers, running out of food for guests was about the worst offense imaginable.

Oh man I grew up with this being a Thing as well. Even now when we have parties that I know people will be bringing stuff to, I still way overbuy because I am terrified there will not be enough food for the guests. Like I assume most normal hosts see an empty dish of something at their party thinking "oh I am glad the guests liked that" whereas I'm doing the Darth Vader scream in my head because I've apparently failed to provide enough of something for everyone.
posted by griphus at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Meatloaf Again? is the name of my 80's middle school dance cover band.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:39 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Griphus ran out of corn chips once at a party so we ceremonially killed him in a Wickerman

I mean it's just polite.
posted by The Whelk at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


We tend to cook with an eye toward leftovers being next day's lunch for my wife far more than for me (although if there's enough to go round I certainly will take a leftover of my own) because she's worked in elementary schools for the last ten years. Going out for lunch is pretty much impossible for her (and far more possible for me). Plus, she's a vegetarian, so she doesn't have the option of a meat sandwich (and I do) and cheese sandwiches just don't work if they're not grilled (mostly because she doesn't embrace the wonder that is Branston pickle) so her best option for something filling is really leftover main-dish that can be heated up in the microwave. Point being, if we have something during the week that doesn't add up to leftovers, it's almost always on a Friday or Saturday.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:48 PM on October 7, 2015


No croquettes?

Around these parts, croquettes and meat cannelloni are the standard disposal methods of leftover meat. Which is why I don't eat croquettes as tapas in bars.

Cannelloni on December 26 made from the Christmas dinner/lunch leftover meats is a traditional thing in Catalonia, too ("canelons de Sant Esteve").
posted by sukeban at 12:50 PM on October 7, 2015


Like I assume most normal hosts see an empty dish of something at their party thinking "oh I am glad the guests liked that" whereas I'm doing the Darth Vader scream in my head because I've apparently failed to provide enough of something for everyone.

Yes I have this problem too where if people are coming over I plan with the unconscious assumption that everyone who comes will eat exclusively one dish but it could be anything so like we need enough sausage balls for everyone only to eat sausage balls and we need enough gingerbread cookies for everyone only to eat gingerbread cookies and we also need enough tiny sandwiches for people only to eat tiny sandwiches and then I end up trying to force people to take home ziploc bags full of miniature bundt cakes and scones and passing out bags full of Florentine cookies to my drunk neighbors all weekend.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:53 PM on October 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


eating out is expensive and I would prefer that money go towards beer.

I find that the biggest disincentive to going out is that we can cook better food at 1/5th the cost than most restaurants. The only value they offer, usually, is dish washing.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:58 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only value they offer, usually, is dish washing.

I can't tell if this means the dish washing wasn't worth it, or that you've more than once been to a restaurant that made you wash your own dishes so I'm going to go ahead and assume it is the latter.
posted by griphus at 12:59 PM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I never thought of meatloaf as leftovers. It's one of my favorite things to make, and the way I make it, I don't know what it would be left over from. And I almost never have any left over, either. It's that good.
I grew up with parents who thought that wasting food was one of the big sins. As I do most of the cooking, I am in favor of having leftovers, but there seldom are any, for dinner at least. Ms. Dewd gets most of the leftovers for lunch.

...I grew up apparently eating leftovers five to six night a weeks.
I'm having trouble figuring out how this is possible.

Lastly, I'm going home tonight to plant a celery end. Thanks!
posted by MtDewd at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2015


all the best international dishes are leftover-based. I love leftover-based cuisine more than any other. To the extent that it's very difficult to cook my favorite dishes, because I first have to make something I won't like, so I can use it for leftovers the next day. Things like Bibimbap, pasties, shepherd's pie, chicken chili. So much work to try to make them in one go.
posted by rebent at 1:03 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


eating out is expensive and I would prefer that money go towards beer.

I find that the biggest disincentive to going out is that we can cook better food at 1/5th the cost than most restaurants. The only value they offer, usually, is dish washing.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


Well sure. You usually only get one fresh fish at the restaurant.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:05 PM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]



I can basically crack an egg over any dish and call it bibimbap, and it's magically transformed from "questionable combination of egg and rice" to "delicious healthy Korean treat"

This. I have even used leftover morrocan spiced couscous as a base, when there was no rice. I have diced the last couple of perogies to go on top. I've even chopped leftover meatloaf that was made of leftovers. But that egg is transformative. It is The Dude's rug of the bibimbapartment.
posted by Kabanos at 1:06 PM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Good post. Good resources. A while ago I was going through a much bigger budget crunch and sort of went through a crisis, but at least it was educational. I had a garden at the time and figured out how to get a lot out of it. I still have some of the pickled watermelon rinds, which I do recommend; I'll probably be making more here soon. I made cheese from spoiled milk (I think I figured out about that here actually), etc. etc. Growing new plants from scraps has been wildly successful for me.

Around that time I bought the book How To Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher which I will not lie was in part because I kind of fell in love with the title. I'd heard about it on NPR, I think. It's a wartime book and it's prose-y, but there is a ton of information not just on recipes for scraps, how to get the most and best flavor from what you can get, but also interesting stuff like strategies of fuel efficiency--what to cook together, what can warm on top of the stove, etc.--that aren't super relevant today but still really cool.

Recently I found this link which could probably help with a lot of AskMe's on how to safely eat expired foods. It's tumblr so, you know, obviously use with caution, but most of the guidelines are ones I've been following for a while and I haven't died yet.

I'm always in the market for more ways to stretch the use of your food.
posted by nogoodverybad at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


...I grew up apparently eating leftovers five to six night a weeks.
I'm having trouble figuring out how this is possible.


Maybe I'm using a non-traditional concept of 'leftovers'? Basically it was just me and my mom, and she would cook a big batch of something -- stew, chicken cutlets, baked ziti, rice and beans -- on Saturday or Sunday and I heated myself up parts of that batch for dinner all week.

Her system worked right up until I hit Peak Puberty and then it was like "did you seriously just eat twelve fried chicken cutlets in two days?" This is also why I lost about fifty pounds when I moved out of her house.
posted by griphus at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love leftovers and take pains to keep them in as good condition in the fridge as I can.

I rely on old Revereware metal boxes (designed after the even older Bauhaus Cubus storage boxes, I presume -- the original Revereware set consists of seven boxes; four small squares, one large square, and two medium rectangular, all of which together do stack up into an approximate cube) which I sterilize in a hot oven with lids on after I've washed and dried, and then just pull off the shelf unopened when it's time to put the food away. I also sterilize the serving spoons and try to keep the lids on the pots and casserole dishes the foods have been cooked in as much as possible during dinner.

My experience is that this procedure will keep food I would have felt compelled to throw away before the week was out fresh and wholesome for two to three weeks, and recently I found one of the oblong quart size boxes holding a meat based sauce which had been pushed back behind some other stuff in the fridge for at least two months, and instead of the nightmare of mold spores and stink I expected when I went to clean it, the sauce still looked and smelled perfectly fine, but I threw it away anyway, of course.

I think the key to the efficacy of the boxes is that they can be sterilized completely, and that the tight-fitting lids come down over the outside edges and keep out particles that might be floating around in the fridge as well as random drips from above.

Old mason jars with glass lids -- whether or not they have the rubber seal that I generally dispense with -- do a good job too, but I've had to be careful not to crack those when I'm sterilizing them.
posted by jamjam at 1:15 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Meatloaf should be cooked with a generous topping of ketchup, which caramelizes and makes a nice gooey topping. One of my favorite sandwiches is a slice of meatloaf on good bread with good mustard.

Just before I decided to see what's up on the 'filters, I pulled the remaining meat off a rotisserie chicken, and put the bones on to simmer for broth for chicken pot pie. It's a time-consuming way to cook, which may be why it's not so popular now, but I find it pleasant, and I like casserole-y food.
posted by theora55 at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I never thought of meatloaf as leftovers.
Me neither. But in a household of three people, meatloaf inevitably results in leftovers - sometimes I freeze individual portions, but most of the time it ends up being delicious meatloaf sandwiches.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to live with housemates, and we all had different schedules and tastes, so we all ate separately. I'd cook dinner for myself; one lived primarily on hummus and carrots; another usually got takeout or cooked up a frozen dinner. Most of the things I bothered cooking were big soups that made 6-8 servings, so I'd eat it for a week.

I live with different housemates now, and I cook dinner for three of us. That seems to be the tipping point where I bother cooking 'fancy' foods (things that aren't Hueg Soup) that only have about 4 servings in a recipe, and we usually eat all of it. Every week or two I make a big thing of chili or curry or some other soup, though, and it's amazing because omg, leftovers for like two days, omg.
posted by you could feel the sky at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2015


I've never been able to understand people who refuse to eat leftovers; if I'd done that, I would have starved to death before age 10. I used to live with a housemate who was a phenomenal cook (used to be pro, even), who somehow didn't like leftovers. His wife and I had no such compunction, though, so we'd happily eat whatever he'd made for days, while he continued to cook something different each night.

I sure do miss those leftovers.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I cook with an eye for leftovers.

Oh, man, I read that as "I cook an eye for leftovers." I was like, huh, interesting alternative to dumping a runny fried egg on leftovers.
posted by ignignokt at 1:38 PM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Meatloaf should be cooked with a generous topping of ketchup

I always value Theora's comments but um, you put BBQ sauce on meatloaf.

I just started my first Pot-au-feu of the season. So I guess you could say we are going to be eating leftovers for a long time because I add something every day and keep that sucker going for weeks until I have the broth of the gods.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


meatloaf gets a bad rap. I remember it being the butt of jokes on all kinds of TV shows as a kid and had never tried it. I just assumed it was awful stuff. Then one day my stepmother told us meatloaf was on the menu for dinner. I was appalled, especially because I was not a big fan of her cooking to begin with -- she would consistently throw dinner rolls in the microwave for a minute on "high" for some reason, and "garlic bread" to her meant cheese wiz on a buttered hamburger bun, with no garlic somehow. But then I smelled the meatloaf cooking. And I tried it. It was fucking delicious. I make it myself now anytime I have enough ground beef around, and I do it in a muffin tin so you get little single-serving meatloaves. Then you got a bunch of frozen leftover meatloaf.
posted by Hoopo at 1:51 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meatloaf Sandwiches > Meatloaf.

I can get a few meals out of a chicken. (I like to roast a raw chicken whenever possible because I use the giblets and because I like my seasoning method. But when I'm lazy/busy/whatever I'll get a supermarket rotisserie chicken..

Meal 1: Roast Chicken with rice and whatever seasonal veg. looks good. Save the bones for broth.
Meal 2: Leftover chicken/veg + mushrooms stirfry with rice. Basically Meal 1 tossed in a skillet with a little soy sauce.
Meal 3: Rice cooked in broth with whatever is left from Meal 2. There are usually a few chicken molecules left.

Sometimes I'll make Meal 2 a hearty chicken soup with chewy dumplings.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:59 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the biggest issues that I have with cooking exactly the amount needed is that you have to do it, and then the next day, you have to do it all over again. So leftovers are a nice solution to this problem. Some foods are better than others for this: chili or lamb curry do well; delicate, perfectly cooked fish, or a dressed, tossed salad do not.

Scalable recipes also make sense - the aforementioned chili takes a similar amount of prep time for twenty servings as two servings, so why not go big? I guess this blurs the line between "make ahead" and "have leftovers", but I just assume for many (if not most) recipes that I'm going to make a lot more than gets eaten on the same day as food prep.
posted by theorique at 2:00 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I do it in a muffin tin so you get little single-serving meatloaves

If you do this and also top them with mashed potatoes and then sprinkle green peas on top you get like little meatloaf cupcakes.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:08 PM on October 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


I realised reading this thread that I am in a state of cognitive dissonance regarding leftovers, where I think of leftovers qua leftovers as gross yet eat basically nothing for work lunches but stuff I have previously eaten for dinner. I think inmy head anything you can freeze and it tastes just as good reheated (e.g. a burrito, soup) isn't a leftover, nor is it a leftover if you deliberately make several portions for the purpose of having them later. It only counts as leftovers if it's the kind of thing that doesn't taste as good the next day but you fucked up and made too much and are now forced to eat it out of a sense of obligation. I feel like I am becoming the medieval Catholic theologian of leftovers, here, but like a puffin eating monk, it works for me.
posted by Diablevert at 2:32 PM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Now I'm wondering where, in the spectrum of people parsing what counts as a leftover vs. what doesn't, the phenomena of post-Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches falls. It's food left over from a previous meal, being recontextualized into a new dish, without specifically being made to last (but who gets just enough turkey for the main course? Nobody, that's who).

And yet, the the turkey sandwiches are always looked forward to more than the original course (even when the original is amazing, there's something magical about letting it cool and sticking it between potato bread with mayo, brown mustard, and some cranberry sauce).
posted by CrystalDave at 2:38 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My brother in law refuses to eat leftovers. No repurposing, no "last nights spaghetti is tonight's baked spaghetti." Nope. Once a meal is served, that's it, throw what's left away, he doesn't want to see that meal again until it's served fresh and new again in a few weeks.

This has made my sister a rebel, since she serves leftovers regularly to her kids, and a genius at making one-plate meals for him on nights that leftovers hit the table. He eats a fair number of hamburger patties. I think he's used to it. And it's a real boon for me on nights I go there for dinner. I get to take home really big doggy bags :)
posted by disclaimer at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Meatloaf Sandwiches > Meatloaf.

Yes. Oh yes. Fresh white bread, properly thick slice of cold meatloaf, little pepper, very little salt, ketchup. Mmmmmmm.

Turkey sammiches with dressing are also fine.

I like most leftovers. Especially when they find their way into a stew, curry, pie or soup. We'll often put leftover meat into pasta sauce.

Even if we were rich, I'd still eat (and plan for) leftovers.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2015


I read this while eating leftovers. Both were pretty good!
posted by Biblio at 2:52 PM on October 7, 2015


I have a firm policy that if I turn on an appliance to make food, there should be at least 4 adult servings when I'm done. I just bought two 16-packs of heavy-duty meal-planning containers for the fridge and freezer, and try to have enough full meals and meal components that I only have to cook from scratch once or twice a week for two people eating at home 3 meals a day.

It is sometimes a sore point for me that my husband is only just learning to do emotional labor to make sure we're fed, but at least he never ever complains about what's on offer. In fact, I really need to get better about dating the stuff I put in the fridge because he'll eat anything that still appears to be food, with no ability to recognize that that curry's been in there for a couple of weeks.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:56 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


... I do it in a muffin tin so you get little single-serving meatloaves

If you do this and also top them with mashed potatoes and then sprinkle green peas on top you get like little meatloaf cupcakes.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:08 PM


This would work well with my favorite thing to do with leftover mashed potatoes: cover in shredded Cheddar and bake in oven until melty. This would be good with any combination of meatloaf and peas.
posted by workerant at 3:05 PM on October 7, 2015


But a lot of other foods, such as soups and curries, taste better a day or two or three after they were made. It’s an argument chefs have been making for a long time, and it seems to be finding new purchase on mainstream habits

Pizza. You forgot pizza.

Also fried rice.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:11 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leftovers. And now I'm praying for the end of time, to hurry up and arrive.
posted by Mcable at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It puzzles me that some people aren't counting stuff you make extra of and freeze as leftovers. Of course it is! Anything that isn't being served for the first time = leftovers. It doesn't matter whether you make it into a new dish, portion and freeze it, or whatever. Still leftovers.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:22 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leftovers are the best food. There are several dishes I mainly cook for the leftovers.
But leftover-cooking needs budget planning. An organic, free range chicken costs at leat 4 times as much as a battery chicken, but if you can legitimize the purchase by showing how the organic chicken can be spread over 3-4 days, then it doesn't seem as decadent. (I'm a single parent, so I only discuss this with myself)
A leg of lamb is insanely expensive, but if you plan for a hash and sandwiches and maybe even a left-over pie, then you investment makes sense. And as stated above, the main reason I want to cook a leg of lamb is those leftovers.
posted by mumimor at 3:40 PM on October 7, 2015


Mr. Yuck, are you being eponstyrical? I grew up in Ohio, and I stand by my ketchup recommendation. However, in the interests of Science, I am willing to engage in extensive research. Then there's Artful Codger.
posted by theora55 at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife makes what she calls "odds and ends curry' every two weeks or so

We do lots of this, because we love cooking, and it has become a thing in our house to throw as little away as possible.

"Bottom of the 'fridge soup" uses whatever vegetables have seen better days but are still useful. Layered pies (no pet name) use whatever meat is left over, with layers of potato and other veggies. A favourite uses left-over chicken, and if we have some stuffing as well, we get a layered pie of chicken, stuffing, potato and other vegetables. The same sort of thing happens with desserts, maybe using left-over cake and fruit, but that doesn't happen as often.

Left-over bread gets reduced to breadcrumbs, or cut into cubes and toasted for croutons. And I dry the spent malt from brewing in the oven, because it makes a wonderful ingredient for baking and making granola.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:07 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


my roommates and i are big on what we call "mush bowls" - cook up a bunch of veggies that are languishing in the crisper drawers, especially whatever's nearing the end of its lifespan or was a weird thing from the CSA box (like when we got a whole bunch of sunchokes and had no idea what to do with them), in the cast iron with maybe some tofu or chicken and a big splash of bragg's and then make a bunch of rice or lentils if we don't already have some left over in the fridge, chop up some cabbage and throw it on top along with either some plain yogurt or a fried egg. and then i usually coat the whole thing in nanami togarashi too mmmm
posted by burgerrr at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I spent a year as a governess (not really a nanny, no Mom), and the Dad was utterly opposed to meatloaf. Compared it to dogfood, which deeply offended me. I consider it much more akin to pate, which probably served the same purpose of using up leftover scraps of meat, liver, etc. Now I want meatloaf, and there's a delightful chicken pie with biscuit crust in the offing.

Do Kids-These-Days make old school food like meatloaf, casseroles, chicken pot pie, food that takes lots of steps but isn't haute? It seems to me not. I grew up solidly upper-middle, but my Mom cooked frugally, using up all the parts of things, using leftovers, etc. It seemed like everybody's Mom did. Thankfully, really, Mom, thank you, she seldom used Cream of soups, and jello just had some fruit in it. Convenience foods didn't really exist - frozen vegetables and frozen fish were considered convenience food. Well, we did have Mrs. Paul's Crab Balls. I wish Mrs. Pauls still served up those tasty Crab Balls, so the grownups could giggle and the kids could be blissfully ignorant.

I can't eat dairy. I became lactose-intolerant, and realized that dairy causes serious inflammatory health trouble for me. I recently dreamed about pizza with hot melty luscious cheese. You know what I want? Welsh Rabbit. a.k.a. Welsh Rarebit. Quite often, when Mom & Dad were going out, we'd get cheese sauce on saltines. There has to be a little bit of Worcestershire in the cheese sauce, it enhances the savory taste.

My sisters diss my Mom's cooking, but I liked it. We had lots of vegetables, I grew up loving broccoli and spinach. asparagus was pricey and was counted out carefully. To this day, unlimited asparagus or unlimited bacon feels extravagant. My Dad loved a corn pudding/ chicken dish served in the cafeteria. My Mom got the recipe and scaled it down - Plantation shortcake. Oven-fried chicken, always served with grits. We used to stop at a farm stand to get fresh corn, then hightail it home to get it cooked asap. The only things she made that I didn't care for were Salisbury steak (hamburgers in canned gravy - boring) and curried lamb (leftover lamb, abused by being stewed with canned curry powder. turns out I'm not a fan of the fenugreek. 1st time I had real curry was a genuine revelation). Mom used to tape the lid of the spaghetti sauce pot because we used to come get a cup or 2 to eat plain.

I'll make meatloaf some night soon the way my Mom made it, and it will make me think fondly of my Mom, a complicated and difficult person. And I will enjoy the leftovers.
posted by theora55 at 4:17 PM on October 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


It puzzles me that some people aren't counting stuff you make extra of and freeze as leftovers. Of course it is! Anything that isn't being served for the first time = leftovers. It doesn't matter whether you make it into a new dish, portion and freeze it, or whatever. Still leftovers.

Heresy. We're going to have to be in schism, because this is very clear in my mind. It's in the name --- "leftover" is the remainder, the excess. If I make four portions of something on purpose to serve to four people right then, nothing is left over. If I buy four apples, eat one and eat the other three during the rest of the week, nothing is left over. If I make four portions, freeze three and eat one, nothing is left over. If you deliberately plan to make something and eat it at peak deliciousness, you have not eaten leftovers, because there was nothing left over and above what you planned to consume.

Thomas Acquinus here I come.
posted by Diablevert at 4:22 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


People have asked about a definition of "leftovers," and whether "I made extra so I could have the same soup again on purpose"counts. The article actually goes into that briefly, but it's mostly talking about the "take the roast meat you had Monday night and how it in a casserole Tuesday night" kind of thing, where you repurpose something entirely.

And I'm trying to do more of that too; one of the cookbooks I recommend for single diners is Judith Jones' "The pleasure of cooking for one", precisely because she walks you through how to do exactly that. It's an especial trick for single diners, because so often we have to buy bigger portions of stuff than we need because that's just how it comes in the supermarket. So she has a bunch of recipes for "so when you bring home that smallest-you-could-find pork tenderloin that's still big, cut off this much and save it for recipe 1, cut off this much and save it for recipe 2, and then use the rest in recipe 3 tonight"; or "if you use the entire package of lamb chops you'll have leftovers, so here's how to add the meat from that to lentils and veggies for a lentil dish the next night that will be seasoned well with what you used for the glaze" or whatever.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]



Mr. Yuck, are you being eponstyrical?


My dad grew up in Ohio, the meatloaf sucked.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:36 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here its:
Leftovers - horrible thing no one wanted yesterday.
TV Dinner - All the awesome things you put in the freezer.
posted by pan at 6:14 PM on October 7, 2015


Mr. Yuck, it's quite possible that the unsatisfactory meatloaf had some sort of canned soup in it. A friend's Mom from Ohio used canned tomato soup as the base for pasta sauce. So very wrong. In any case, my sympathy to your Dad.
posted by theora55 at 6:18 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm having difficulty with the concept of a person being favorably or unfavorably inclined toward "leftovers." You made some food. You didn't finish it, so you ate the rest of it later. How exciting/terrible!
posted by atoxyl at 6:21 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm definitely on Team Leftovers. I actually have a hard time understanding how 1-2 person households can avoid leftovers. It seems like you've either got to be cooking tiny portions all the time, or throwing a lot of food away, or just... not cooking? Since frugality and efficiency are key values to me, it all seems so wrong.

Curiously, my (non-USian) ex-husband had a weird thing about leftover potatoes, which he refused to eat because he thought something bad happened to them overnight in the refrigerator. All these years later, it turns out that cooked and cooled potatoes have some "resistant starch" deal going on that is supposed to be good for your gut biome.
posted by drlith at 6:31 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember as a teenager being shocked by an episode of Bewitched in which Samantha is throwing out last night's spaghetti because Darren doesn't like leftovers. I had never heard of such a thing in all my born days. If nothing else, leftovers could go into the soup pot.

Mom grew up cooking for an army of relatives and never really mastered scaling down, so there was never any hope for not having leftovers. She and Dad had a running joke about the Spanish rice she made on their wedding night, that they ate for a month afterwards.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:49 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


She's an amazing cook, though. We never lacked for extra mouths to take up the slack, because people were always angling for dinner invitations. I'm convinced her baking powder biscuits and apple dumplings got Dad a promotion at work.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leftovers were a major part of my childhood, because how else could someone feed a large family on a tight budget? I don't remember it being something that was really discussed or a bone of contention; there was just an expected sequence of dinner menus that were based around efficiency along with other factors.

Now that I'm an adult I try to avoid the type of leftovers situation where there are random bits and pieces left from various meals, but I always cook with an eye for leftovers. Sometimes that means cooking pots of soup and freezing it in meal-sized containers, and sometimes it means the kinds of planned sequences people have described above, like roast chicken tonight, chicken sandwich for lunch, and chicken soup for dinner the next day.

I will confess to being grossed out (reasonably or unreasonably though it may be) by the length of time many people keep food in their fridges. Even if food is safe to eat, it has often declined precipitously in quality -- it's better to reduce waste on the front end (say, by cooking less or immediately freezing the leftovers) than to reduce waste later by eating food well past its expiration date. Food should be good, and few things other than wine and cheese benefit from aging.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:26 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you do this and also top them with mashed potatoes and then sprinkle green peas on top you get like little meatloaf cupcakes.

These sound deliciously like individual shepherd's pies.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




I will admit to not liking leftovers. (I also hate to cook and assume these are related.) If I just ate something, I don't want to eat it again. That's pretty much all my resistance. Well and I don't really enjoy mush pies and things people tend to make out of leftovers. On occasion something is so good I'll eat it the next day, but mostly we get takeout or good frozen food from Fresh Direct and never turn on our oven, which is why I live in NYC, where this is normal.
posted by dame at 6:58 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


If leftovers are wrong, then I don't wanna be right.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


my roommates and i are big on what we call "mush bowls"

At chez ozzy we call those Awesome Bowls. Leftovers over rice, usually with added frozen veggies and a little cheese on top. Now that this thread has me thinking about bibimbap, though, maybe I'll throw some chili sauce and an egg on top next time.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:16 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Curiously, my (non-USian) ex-husband had a weird thing about leftover potatoes, which he refused to eat because he thought something bad happened to them overnight in the refrigerator. All these years later, it turns out that cooked and cooled potatoes have some "resistant starch" deal going on that is supposed to be good for your gut biome.

For the record, I actually know of a fantastic breakfast dish that involves pre-cooked potato (preferably whole):

For each person, you take a whole cooked potato, about two strips of bacon and a splash of milk. Fry up the bacon and crumble it; grate the cooked potato(es) into a bowl, add the bacon bits and a splash of milk. Stir all that together, then tip into a baking dish (kind of shallow; you want it to be as thick as a decent slice of pie). Bake that at about 375 for about 40 minutes. If you really wanna gild the lily, when the 40 minutes are up, put some grated cheese on top and pop back into the oven just until the cheese is melted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:28 AM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hoopo: I make [meatloaf] myself now anytime I have enough ground beef around, and I do it in a muffin tin so you get little single-serving meatloaves. Then you got a bunch of frozen leftover meatloaf.

(That damp bang you may have just heard was my mind blowing. I thought I was clever to split two one-pound dough balls into quarters and make eight small calzones in one night, but this is Eisenhower-grade logistics ninjaship.)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:31 PM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


theora55: Do Kids-These-Days make old school food like meatloaf, casseroles, chicken pot pie, food that takes lots of steps but isn't haute?

In the cold months I make chicken pie from scratch every other week (I did it this Monday night!), and we used to make meatloaf like every ten days. My kids -- ages 7 - 16 -- grumble, but we say "Wait until you're cooking for yourself" and we laugh and laugh. (They can go hungry if they are so traumatized by the entree, but they never do.)

I love cooking stuff that is time-consuming in the fall and winter: e.g., chicken soup from scratch makes everyone happy, even if it's not done for a sick person. And my chili is jealously hoarded. But we also make ice cream from scratch year-round, so I guess we are outliers. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 1:49 PM on October 22, 2015


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