Leftovers are an easy solution to the common question, “What’s for dinner?” and are a simple step toward more sustainable living. A recent survey found that 72% of Americans identify as pro-leftovers – but how can we cook and store these foods for maximum mealtime “yum” and less food waste? Whether you’re pro-leftovers all the way or need some convincing, follow the tips below for a more sustainable approach to mealtime joy.
- Keep an organized fridge.
An organized fridge is key to making the most of your leftovers and limiting food waste. Give your fridge interior a refresh so you can best find food items and develop a system that works for your family.
A recent Bosch survey found that 61% of people believe they would waste less food if their fridge had more useful storage capacity. Utilize flexible storage and shelving solutions to make space for taller items, like large cakes or bottles, so every inch of your fridge interior is maximized.
Label your leftovers with the date they were made, and store them in airtight, glass containers. It’s easy to forget what’s in your fridge until it’s too late – glass storage containers are not only reusable and sustainable, but also allow you to see what’s inside.
- Cook meals that you already know will make great leftovers.
Many Americans choose their meals based on whether or not they will make good leftovers for future meals. In the survey, Americans noted that eggs and sushi are by far the worst things to keep as leftovers (42% and 33%), whereas soups (79%), meat (62%) and pasta (60%) are among some of the best leftovers. Rather than making that egg frittata for your at-home brunch, consider sweet potato hash browns or cheesy pasta bake so you can enjoy them for days to come.
- Treat “extras” as a foundation for new meals.
We all have that one recipe that calls for only a small amount of one ingredient, but you don’t need it for anything else. Think about what extra ingredients can become to save time and money. For example, repurpose vegetable scraps to make a soup or stock. Toss extra carrots, onions and the like in a gallon zip-top bag in the freezer. If you prepare twice the vegetables you’ll need for a meal, you’ll have a starting point for a soup or pasta salad later in the week, such as Leftovers Veggie Soup.
- Maximize freshness with the right products and appliances.
Choose a refrigerator that features freshness technology specifically designed to extend the shelf life of your food, so you can have peace of mind knowing your leftovers will be good to eat in days after you first eat the meal.
You can also freeze leftovers if you want to extend their life for a longer period of time. An easy storage hack for leftover soup or sauce is to freeze them in muffin tins or ice cube trays for small portions to easily use for other meals.
- Reheat your leftovers like a pro.
There are a number of ways to best reheat leftovers, and 41% of survey respondents said reheating ability is a key factor that would incentivize them to eat more leftovers.
Your cooktop is a key method to making your leftovers feel like a brand-new meal. While microwaves are handy when you’re on a time crunch, they might give your leftovers an undesirable consistency, whereas cooking on the stovetop on low heat maintains its original taste and texture. You can also reheat leftovers on an induction cooktop for fast and precise reheating to ensure your leftovers don’t have any cold spots, and for easy cleanup.
Steam cooking is another great way to reheat leftovers, as it retains nutrients, moisture and the original integrity of your food. Try reheating foods like fish and veggies in a steam oven – your leftovers will always come out fresh and flavorful!