As a nutritionist who writes meal plans for a living, I’ve realized when it comes to food, there are only two types of people: those who love variety and those who love routine. Which one are you?
The only way to please them both is to redesign leftovers in a way that makes them feel new again. But neither type has a lot of free time for meal prep—and if they have free time, they likely don’t want to be spending it in the kitchen, prepping, cleaning, repeating.
One key to mastering a healthy lifestyle with food is to use your imagination on how to remake the same food. The best way for me to personally stay on track is making extra of the meals I’m preparing, like dinner, and reusing it for lunch the next day. I have found this not only works for me but for thousands of my clients. And you’ll find that certain foods actually are more flavorful the next day. I know you’re all with me in the fact that cake tastes so much better the day after it’s baked—like the flavors have evolved overnight. This can be true for a lot of foods, like chili and stew and even stir fry. Not buying it yet? Here are some examples.
This is my favorite—and the easiest—way to make a leftover feel like a brand-new meal. Add any dish to a bowl of grains like quinoa, throw in some greens like spring mix, and if you’re like me you’re going to top it with hummus or salsa instead of a dressing. It’s seriously the best way to use up food and give it a fresh vibe.
This is the most obvious one. I’m not personally a fan of plain green salads. My salads have to be jazzed up, and leftovers make the jazziest of all salad combos. Sheet-pan dinner? Leftover tacos? Grains? Any leftover can amp up a lunch or next-day-dinner salad. No need for any food to go to waste.
It doesn’t have to be just cheese and maybe some chicken. You can add veggies, grains, and any kind of meat to a quesadilla. Leftover steak? Dice it up. Leftover corn? Add it in. Throw in some goat cheese and fall in love with your leftovers.
Have you seen the large wraps from Siete yet? They’re amazing. I use them with every meal of the day and sometimes even desserts. Heat slightly for elasticity and wrap up any leftovers with some lettuce—or even salad with some protein like chicken, chickpeas, or tuna—and enjoy this way. Or skip the wrap and just use lettuce for a lettuce sammy. This is especially delish with a curry-type dish.
There are so many amazing sauces on the market (many of my favorites are from Primal Kitchen). Plate the same meal as before and add a couple tablespoons of sauce for a brand new flavor.
Normalize stuffing leftovers into a sweet potato or a baked potato. This can be any meal, but especially stir frys, stews, soups (less the broth), or chili. It’s heavenly and no work at all—except for cooking the potato, which could be done in a microwave in a pinch.
Think of all the summertime veggies that we love to roast. But then, when are we going to eat them again? Eggs are your answer. Scramble them with your eggs and even throw in some extra greens. Be it roasted veggies or salsa, my eggs don’t discriminate. This even works if you have veggies that are on their last limb.
TL;DR Use Your Imagination
Here’s one example: when I make a pasta dish, I don’t add the sauce to the noodles. I am a mom of four, so my key is letting the kids decide how they want their pasta. Some like extra sauce, some prefer the pasta with avocado oil and parmesan cheese that night. Then I’m able to scrap the noodles and create multiple new things. I’ve used the leftover pasta for fresh pasta salad. I’ve used the meat sauce for chili or even sloppy joes before. We honestly overthink prepared meals, but simplifying and never wasting is my motto!
Up next, be the first to know our weekly content and sign up for our Poosh newsletter.