Leftovers? My top 4 Zero-Waste Strategies

Happy Monday everyone! Monday is a great day for a blog post about leftovers; if you’re cooking a big meal, chances are it’ll have been yesterday on a Sunday, and you might be scratching your head right now wondering what to do with those leftovers! Hopefully my go-to strategies will keep you from throwing anything away.

1. MAKE A SOUP

This was what I was up to a few days after Thanksgiving. I had three or four rounds of leftovers, and then when that was beginning to run its course, I turned to turkey sandwiches on gluten-free bread. After three or four of those, it was time for the soup!

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The key to a tasty soup is to put the entire carcass (all the bones!) into your chicken or vegetable stock to make a nice, hearty, healthy, fortifying bone broth! I chopped up some fresh carrots and celery, and tossed in a ton of fresh parsley. Every day it occurs to me how lucky I am to live around the corner from not one, but TWO fresh family-owned vegetable markets. I could tell Shane was jonesing for some starch, so I diced up a couple of potatoes to thicken up the soup. Otherwise this soup would be hearty enough even without starch in it.

I brought everything up to a boil and then let it simmer for about twenty minutes. It could have gone longer, but we were hungry, and it was delicious!

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I brought a second helping of the soup to school for lunch the day after making it. It actually tasted better than when it was fresh when I made it in the evening. I think it’s because it congealed a little bit overnight in the fridge, and then when I reheated it in the microwave, the soup was thicker.

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This is a pork roast and sauerkraut leftovers soup we ate last night for dinner, and I had it for lunch just now. From a leftover pork roast covered in sauerkfraut, oninos, garlic, and potato cubes, I added a box of Trader Joe’s vegetable broth, chunks from another half of an onion, another clove of fresh garlic, a handful of sliced mushrooms, and salt. (Some Slovak recipes call for a white / tan bean, but I was running out of room in the crock pot!) I let it simmer in the crock pot for about five hours. We’ll be eating this again tonight and probably for the next two to three nights! I’m lucky Shane is not a fancy eater, and he just goes along with eating the same thing for days and days in a row. The crock pot is your friend if you have time to throw something together on a Sunday, and no time the rest of the week! Last night we ate the soup with a side of sweet potato fries I put together in the oven. Tonight I’m boiling some chunks of kabocha squash for a side dish. It’ll be a warming and hearty meal on this longest-night-of-the-year.

2) MAKE TACOS

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Even after we ate the post-Thanksgiving turkey soup, there were still “seemingly unusable” scraps of turkey still left in the dregs of the soup. I fished them out, chopped some of them up even smaller, and simmered for twenty minutes in a green tomatillo sauce (also from our corner market). I heated up corn tortillas, made a good-sized bucket of organic guacamole with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and chili powder, and chopped up fresh bowls of WHITE ONION, cilantro, and lime wedges. I learned last April in my cooking course in Mexico City that traditional Mexican recipes call for white onion. By the way, surprise surprise, all of these ingredients, again, come from my corner grocery market.

Something else I learned about tacos is my Mexican cooking class— lettuce is NOT a garnish for tacos. Maybe you want to go ahead and make a small side salad, but that’s something else. Take two SMALL SIZED corn tortillas one on top of the other and layer with only a small amount of meat. The stars of your show are the fresh chopped onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa picante!

3. FUSE CUISINES – Slovak ramen?!

My life pretty much revolves around the fusion of Asian with European. My mom is 100% Slovak, and my dad is Dutch-Indonesian. No wonder that when I’m dealing with leftovers, I go straight for the cultural-combo-pack.

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I’ll admit and say that I wasn’t crazy about the pork-with-sauerkraut roast I made last week. I think I left it in the oven too long, so the pork was definitely on the dry side. Cubing the pork and having it hang out in the broth of this “fancy ramen” was just what it needed. I’ve seen ramen and a lot of Korean dishes served with cabbage, so I threw the sauerkraut on top here, too. It was so amazing! Lime and cilantro is pretty much my most favorite flavor combo in the entire world, so that topped off the whole kit and caboodle.

I’ve been buying these gluten-free ramens at Whole Foods by Lotus Foods. They are still reasonable at $1.99 each, but Shane and I refer to them as my “fancy ramen,” since they are from Whole Foods. They have less sodium than regular bad-for-you ramen, and they are delicious!

4. STAY CALM… AND MAKE AN OMELET (or scramble)

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The first three tips generally deal with leftover meats. What to do when you are faced with an awkward amount of leftover cooked veggies? Stay calm, and make an omelet! On that note, I have the day off and am faced with a random assortment of vegetables, so I can go make myself an omelet right now! Have a great week everyone! Let me know what you end up doing with your leftovers!

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4 Comments on “Leftovers? My top 4 Zero-Waste Strategies”

  1. Bulldog Travels December 21, 2015 at 15:45 #

    Stir fry, burritos, and eggs are my go-to leftover users.

  2. Lisa December 22, 2015 at 07:32 #

    You can’t have leftovers with Raisin Bran 😉

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