We always cook more than we need to. I’m guilty of it and I’m sure you’re guilty of it too. If you are like me and unsure of what to do with lots of leftovers besides sending it off with my children and husband, here are some simple ideas for use of everyday basic leftovers.
1. Package extra pancakes and waffles as single servings in airtight plastic bags and freeze. When you need a quick breakfast, just reheat the frozen treats in your toaster.
2. Turn leftover mashed potatoes into croquettes. Form cold mashed potatoes into little balls, dip in beaten egg, coat in bread crumbs, and saute or deep-fry. You can also mix in crabmeat or salmon.
3. If you’ve cooked more rice than you can eat, make rice pudding by adding butter, cinnamon, sugar and milk. Or create fried rice by sauteing with a beaten egg, soy sauce, and sliced green onions. Or toss rice with silvered almonds and raisins for a MIddle Eastern-inspired pilaf.
4. After finishing off a wedge of hard cheese, save the rind and use it to flavour soup stock. Just be sure to remove the rind and strain the broth before serving.
5. No need to pour a pot of leftover brewed coffee down the drain. Freeze the liquid in ice-cub trays to add to iced coffee instead of regular ice-cubes. Your coffee won’t lose its potency as the cubes melt.
6. It’s almost a blasphemy to throw away bacon fat. Store the useful (if admittedly unhealthy) stuff in an airtight aluminium or stainless steel container in the freezer and use it to make corn bread or fry eggs or potatoes. You can also use bacon fat instead of oil in a spinach salad: Combine two parts bacon fat to three parts balsamic vinegar. Add one part vegetable oil to the mix if you like a less pungent dressing.
7. Prevent extra cooked pasta from hardening by stashing it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerating. When you’re ready to serve throw the pasta in boiling water for a few seconds to heat and restore moisture.
8. Instead of tossing out stale bread, cut it into small rounds and freeze. Toasted, it makes a cheap tasty substitute for fancy crackers.