Turning Leftovers into "Planned-Overs"

You blinked, and before you knew it, summer flew right by! It is that time of year when school is back in session and summer break is a memory. For many families, that means homework in the evenings, rushed schedules with afterschool activities and a lack of time to get it all done. Preparing healthy meals at home sometimes seems to get lost in the shuffle. With a little bit of planning ahead, you can make it easier to prepare healthful meals in a rush. Read on for a few tips to help you balance mealtime with your busy schedule.

Making extra food to serve another day can be a great time-saver. For example, if you have time on the weekend and plan to make a casserole, make two instead of one. It often doesn't take much more time and preparation to double the recipe. You can serve one when you make it and freeze the other one to pull out for a busy night. Soups also freeze well, so make a large pot to have enough for another meal. Keep in mind that some foods do not freeze well. This includes things such as cooked eggs, cooked "chunks" of potatoes, pasta, and raw, watery vegetables like lettuce.

Sometimes leftovers reheat well and we don't mind eating them for a second time. However, some foods just don't taste as good after cooling and reheating. If you have a hard time getting your family to eat leftovers but need a quick meal, try to turn those leftovers into "planned-overs". How is a planned-over different from a leftover? Rather than just reheating and serving foods again, you can create "planned-overs" by taking leftover foods and turning them into a new meal that only takes a few minutes to prepare. Think about what leftover foods you have and how you could quickly repurpose them. Leftover beans could be refried and used to make burritos. Leftover chicken could become a quick chicken salad or a barbecue sandwich with the addition of some bottled barbecue sauce and served on a bun. Turn leftover vegetables or meats into a tasty soup. A stir fry is also a great way to quickly turn leftovers into a meal that seems far from reheated.

This recipe for Teriyaki Stir Fry is super-fast to prepare and could turn leftover chicken or rice into a great planned-over meal that your family will love. Add a green salad and some fruit for dessert and you have a quick complete meal!

  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 4 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup cooked chicken meat
  • 3 cups cooked brown or white rice

Lightly spray a large nonstick skillet or wok with vegetable cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Sauté the vegetables until tender crisp and heated through about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with the soy sauce and sesame oil and add the chicken. Allow to heat together. Serve over the cooked, hot rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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9/14/2021 3:34:04 PM
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