Coat an 8 oz ramekin or oven proof-dish with cooking spray. Crumble cornbread into the bottom.
In a separate bowl, beat egg and milk until well incorporated. Stir in green onion, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Pour egg mixture over cornbread and bake until the eggs become puffy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Hack: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen, tightly wrapped for up to 2 months.
Hack: Chop leftover green onions and freeze them in a sealable freezer bag or container for future use. While they won’t retain the crispness that would make them suitable for salads or garnish, they will be fine for cooking.
Many think that “leftovers” are just a step ahead of “garbage”. Welcome to the No Throw Zone as we talk about a few creative thoughts on how to use leftovers.
Show of hands, who loves leftovers? Anybody? No? Well, I’m not surprised. Leftovers have gotten a bad rap over the course of time.
Old adages such as “Waste Not, Want Not” and “Clean Your Plate” still ring in our ears from our childhoods (and maybe our children’s childhoods as well!). We were continuously reminded that there were starving children that would give their eye teeth for just one bite of the tuna surprise that was sitting on the table in front of us.
Even Pope Francis jumped on the bandwagon in 2013 saying, “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.”
All of this makes us feel like leftovers are something we must eat instead of something we could actually enjoy.
I would like to welcome you to the No Throw Zone as we talk about a few creative thoughts on how to use leftovers.
Safely Storing Food Leftovers
I’m gonna put this at the top of the list because it’s important to store your leftovers in a manner that will allow you to use them in a timely manner before they go bad. For cooked meats and hardy vegetables, the general rule of thumb is that they should be eaten or frozen within 5 days of putting them in the refrigerator (which should happen within 2 hours of cooking them!).
This 5-day rule doesn’t apply to everything so make sure you do your homework. Cured meats can be stored up to 14 days in the fridge after being opened, whereas a fruit or vegetable salad will probably look mushy and unappealing by the next day.
It’s best to use the “first in, first out” method of using your leftovers. When you put a container in, pull any existing containers to the front so they can be used first and the older stuff won’t be hidden in the back!
Keep in mind that’s OK to toss something that looks or smells “funny”. Or, as often happens to me, if you can’t remember when you made it. Never take the chance of getting sick just so you can say you didn’t have to throw it away!
What’s For Lunch Today?
How about leftovers from your dinner last night?
Nothing’s easier than depositing your leftovers from diner directly into a microwave-safe container to have for lunch the next day. Many dishes are even better when the flavors have had a chance to meld overnight. Don’t believe me? You can’t argue with science, man.
Let’s take that soup or stew, for example. This type of dish is typically simmered for some amount of time, both to cook the ingredients and to evaporate some of the liquid, which makes the broth more concentrated and flavorful.
This evaporation process continues as the dish cools and even in the refrigerator. The meat and vegetables absorb liquid as well, causing them to become more tender and flavorful as time goes on. These chemical reactions are what turn that tasty dinner into a heavenly lunch!
Make It New Again
When my kids were growing up, a family favorite was turning stew, pot roast or boiled dinner into hash a day or two later. Simply remove the meat and veggies out of the liquid, chop ‘em up small and crisp them up in a saute pan with a little oil. Use cornstarch to turn the broth into the gravy and you’ve got a real “stick-to-your-ribs” kind of meal. My kids now use this recipe for their own families!
You can also turn any kind of leftovers into a stir-fry. Give them a quick saute and then toss with soy sauce, sesame oil, grated Parmesan or whatever you’ve got on hand!
Puree leftovers to stir into pasta sauce to kick up nutrition and flavor. Or mix them in with pasta and some grated cheese for an easy-peasy meal.
Leftover meat or seafood? How about a sandwich? Or toss it up with some lettuce and your favorite salad dressing! Nachos, chicken salad, ham salad…the possibilities are endless.
Quick And Easy Soup
Soup’s On! Make that quick and easy soup. Got some bouillon? Puree your leftovers to add for a comforting, tasty broth or mix them in as they are for a hearty soup. Top it with freshly made croutons (made from any kind of leftover bread) and dinner’s ready!
Feeling adventurous? How about some ramen? I know this recipe calls for chicken, celery and carrots but you’re feeling adventurous, right? Go ahead and try it with some different ingredients. Basic, dried, unflavored ramen noodles can be found in the Asian section of your local supermarket and have a long shelf life so why not stock up?
And, just for the record, making your own soup or ramen broth is about one million times better than that “instant” stuff.
Improving The Bottom Line
Using (reusing?) your leftovers has benefits far beyond the cost of trash bags. Not only are you saving money on your grocery bill, but you’re also reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as your ecological footprint. You’re improving the bottom line for yourself and the whole world.
And lest I end this sounding like your mother, I will also point out that you’re creating tasty and nutritious meals to enjoy with your family and friends. Because that’s the real bottom line, isn’t it?
Trying to start a new program of healthy cooking for one? Old habits die hard but here are a few tips to help get you back on track to start eating healthier!
We’ve all seen him. That guy in the checkout line at the grocery store, the one we know is single and lives alone. 4 frozen dinners, 1 deli sandwich, 6-pack of beer and an economy-sized bag of Cheetos.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Just because we’re single, it doesn’t mean we’re doomed to a future of breakfast cereal, frozen pizza for one and Ramon noodles.
Nor must we choose drive-thrus or gas station hot dogs. I often who came up with THAT idea. Like, was someone pumping their gas and suddenly thought, “Well, this makes me want to eat a smoked sausage!”? (Yes, I’m kidding. Here’s why gas stations started selling food).
We have a choice. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve picked up along the way to make cooking for one a bit easier and, hopefully, a little more fun.
Healthy Ways Start to Your Day
Running late this morning? Always keep some bananas, frozen strawberries and yogurt on hand to make a smoothie. It just takes a minute and you can drink it on your way to work!
Overnight oats are convenient and the flavor combos are endless so you’ll never get bored. They can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge so go ahead and throw together a few one evening for a week of quick breakfasts.
Everybody loves Sunday morning breakfast! Make a crustless quiche to enjoy with a leisurely cup of coffee and the newspaper. Store a few pieces in the fridge for up to 5 days for a healthy lunch and put the rest in the freezer for another time!
Play It Again, Sam
No big plans for your day off? Make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze it in portions for use another day. Might as well freeze up a batch of meatballs to go with it, too!
Make connected meals. For example, when making potatoes for garlic chicken, do a few extra and use the leftovers to go with Korean beef (instead of cooking rice).
Or save some potato cubes unmashed to make potato salad. While you’re boiling the eggs for the potato salad, throw in a few extra for egg salad.
And always, always, make extra rice to package up in single serving sizes and store in the freezer!
Strategic Contingency Planning
It happens. You get stuck working late, encounter a major traffic jam on the way home or get caught up in a lengthy conversation with a friend. Then it’s too late to cook that dinner you had planned or you’re just too tired.
Make sure you’ve stocked up on a few items that have a decent shelf life and are quick and easy to throw together.
Eggs, cheese, peanut butter and pasta are excellent choices, as are crackers, rice and bread (store this double wrapped in the freezer if you need to!). Frozen fruits and vegetables require no prep at all so they can easily be used in a pinch.
Think of Ways To Be Creative!
Decide to go to the farmers market, choose something you haven’t had before then go home and create a meal.
No, honestly, I “wing” a lot of my recipes and it always turns out fine.
Ok, almost always as there was the “Fennel Incident”. Fennel, as it turns out, tastes like black licorice. Gross. Who knew?
Dress up your go-to meals. Grilled cheese? Mix it up with a two cheese combo, mustard and a couple of pickle slices. Add a splash of cream and some croutons to your tomato soup. Swap out the ketchup on your burger for some thousand island dressing.
Presto Chango! Leftovers don’t have to be the same thing that they were when they were originally left over. (Say THAT 5 times fast!) Pair the grilled chicken and roasted carrots you had last night with chopped onion, soy sauce, leftover rice and – BOOM! – a delicious (and definitely not leftover) stir-fry.
Riddle Me This
Who do you have to answer to anyway? Cooking for just you allows you to eat what you want, when you want, using whatever ingredients you want and as spicy (or not) as you want.
Who’s gonna even know? So what if that tuna and spaghetti thing didn’t measure up to your expectations? I’m not gonna tell and you don’t have to either!
No one’s watching, right? Pour a glass of wine, turn up the 80’s pop music and have a dance party in your pajamas while cooking pasta for the 3rd day in a row. Because you can.
Life is what you make it so make it good. Be brave, be bold, be empowered. And above all, have fun.
What are your thoughts on cooking for one? What are your favorite recipes and strategies? Let me know in the comments below!
Ever wonder which are the best freezer food storage containers? Here’s my take on a few items that come in handy for freezing leftovers!
In previous articles, we’ve talked a lot about how to use your freezer to help make your (cooking) life a bit easier. Whether it’s making meals or storing food prep items, it’s all about having the tools to get it done right and, surprisingly, the list is not as long as you might think! Here’s my take on the 5 best freezer food storage containers out there. They’ll definitely come in handy for helping you master the art of freezer storage.
Spare Essentials Foil Pan & Lid Set
These containers make are great for grab ‘n’ go meals. The 5.5”x4.5”x1.9” size make them perfect for single-serving entrees. They stack nicely in the freezer and can go directly from the freezer to the oven.
Single serving size
Freezer to oven
Use in the air fryer for easy cleanup
The lid is not leakproof
Cannot use in microwave
Crushes more easily than plastic containers
Freshware Meal Prep Containers
These meal prep containers are great for hot or cold foods. They stack easily in the fridge, lunchbox or picnic container. Measured at 9” x 6.3” x 1.6”, these little gems make it easy to pack up some single portions sizes in advance!
These are my new favorite thing! These high-quality containers are meant to hold up for the long haul. They are BPA-free, reusable and recyclable. The best part? The lids are attached so there’s no more searching for lids and containers that match!
This classic features a hollow cylinder silicone and 4 side locking mechanism that locks in twice the sealing power to keep your items fresh. There are many sizes to choose from but this 16.2 cup size is my favorite. It fits nicely in my freezer and keeps things organized. I use it to hold things like individual rolls, hamburger patties and other items that would otherwise “roam” around the freezer creating chaos!
Fits well in the freezer
Durable and long-lasting
Close side-to-side fit
The lid may be difficult to snap on and off
Cannot be used in the oven or on the stovetop
Ziplock Freezer Bags
When freezer space is at a premium, these bags come to the rescue! The pint-size is good for packaging serving-sized portions of soups and stews, individual pieces of meat and single sandwich rolls. The gallon size is great for double bagging items to avoid freezer burn and help with the overall organization of your freezer. Although the slider bags have many uses, I only use the zipper bags for freezer storage.
Zipper style is leakproof
Dioxin and BPA free
May melt or rupture in microwave
Slider bags may leak and break easily
You’ve Got This
So this is it. This is all you’re going to need to get that freezer organized and ready to start working for YOU! I hope you’ve got your orders in and are raring to go. I know I am.
Do you have any freezer storage tips that are working for you? Let me know in the comment section below!