How To Plan For Leftovers

Posted on October 10, 2016 by Downtown Market

One of the biggest issues that comes with learning to cook is the issue of planning meals.  There are hundreds of recipes on how to buy and prepare meals in bulk for families, but far fewer recipes on how to repurpose leftovers.  We get it; it’s hard to know just how much to buy without it going bad or being way too much. Nobody likes the feeling of throwing away wasted food and, with this in mind, we wanted to help out. Here are a few things to consider if you want to begin planning for leftovers like a pro.

The first thing you need to do is ask yourself “How often do I want to cook?” If you can truthfully number how many days you are going to cook in your house that week and how many days you will not, it will make the entire meal planning process much easier.  Do you tend to go out on Friday nights?  Do you usually reserve your busy Wednesdays for carry out?  Do you plan on cooking in every night?  Budget out your time and be honest with yourself.  If you buy more food than you realistically will prepare, you are just wasting money and food. It’s time to break the habit of over-buying and start making the most of the food you have already purchased.

The next thing you need to consider is how much time do you have to prepare and cook each meal. Maybe your workdays are long and you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. If that sounds like you, a great option is to cook a larger meal (like roasted chicken) on Monday. Then, you can use the leftovers from that meal on Tuesday and it will only take a fraction of the time to prepare (something like a quick chicken skillet pasta).

The key to saving time and money with your meal planning comes down to repurposing your leftovers. The best way to get good at repurposing leftovers is to be creative and use your imagination.

For example, let’s say you wanted to cook and repurpose a roast dinner.

A larger meal like a roast dinner is a really popular choice for meal repurposing. You can slow cook this baby and get quite a bit of food out of it. Once you enjoy the meal in its original form, it’s time to stop thinking of the roast as a roast. Instead, think of it more as a pot of ingredients. Let your imagination run wild with all of the possible dishes that use similar ingredients. For a roast dinner, it would be fairly simple to disassemble the roast and turn it a handful of different meals. It could be turned into a stew, chili, or you could even shred up the remaining meat and make delicious tacos out of it.

The key is to really let your imagination go and have fun brainstorming ways to repurpose the major components of the larger meal. After you’ve eaten your original meal, we suggest starting to disassemble the meal’s major components during the clean up process and then storing them away until you’re ready to make the leftover meal a few days later.

Planning for leftovers isn’t as hard as it sounds. All it takes is a little planning and creative thinking.  If you can make a larger meal twice a week and then repurpose the ingredients for a simpler meal a few days later, it will knock out four days worth of meal planning right there. Using this tactic will help you avoid the headaches of meal planning and have you eating delicious meals that save you time and money. Win, win!


Still having a hard time visualizing what types of meals are best for leftovers? On October 7, we are hosting a “Cooking For Two” cooking class, where we will teach you first-hand what types of meals work best when you’re trying to plan meals that will give a household of two enough leftovers for the busy week. We’ll share a few of our best cooking tips and enjoy a lovely dinner together all while having fun in our Teaching Kitchen.


Over to you!

Have any meal planning tips you’d like to share? What about a favorite way to repurpose a meal? Let us know in the comments below!