There’s nothing like a hearty, home-cooked meal for dinner. Unless, of course, you can make the meal last you for the next day’s lunch as well. That’s just one of the of steps you can take in order to avoid wasting food. After all, leftovers aren’t just the mark of a budgeting college student; they’re the delicious gift that keeps on giving!
Read on to see which delicious foods are even better as leftovers.
There are plenty of different concoctions you can make out of leftover pizza. But you can also just throw it back in the toaster oven or even eat it cold; there’s no judgment when it comes to enjoying what is arguably the most-loved food known to humankind.
Lasagna is another Italian dish that holds up as a tasty leftover. In fact, it holds up even better if you refrigerate it because next-day lasagna doesn’t fall apart as easily. The marinara will hold, the cheese will settle, and the pasta will harden to create a well preserved dish that will last for a few days. Chill or freeze it and reheat at your convenience for flavorful, cheesy, baked goodness for any meal of the day.
Curry of all kinds tastes better 24 hours later. Allow the dish to chill in one of these containers and reheat it the next day for an even richer meal. Chilling curried dishes allows the sauce to thicken and the various spices to mix for a smoother blend of flavors. But, regardless of the container, don’t keep curry for more than four days.
Capitalize on everyone’s favorite comforting fall food. Chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, squash — you name it, soup holds up well in the freezer. Most soups will last in the freezer about two to three months, so there’s no need to feast on chicken noodle fearing it’ll go bad. And if you end up with extra broth, use it to season meat, pasta, and vegetables for a healthy and tasty alternative to sauces and marinades.
Texas caviar is the perfect snack for barbeques, parties, and tailgates. However, most recipes create too much of the dish for the average household appetizer. If you’re ever craving Texas caviar all to yourself, fear not, as it’s easy to store and tastes incredible for a few days. Letting the Italian dressing or oil soak into the ingredients for a few hours will enhance the flavor, making this a good dish to eat for a few days. You can store Texas caviar in the fridge for up to four days before you’ll need to toss it.
All Chinese takeout
Chinese food is the ultimate indulgence for the nights you dedicate to your sweatpants, couch, and favorite book. The good news? You don’t have to leave the couch for a few days (except for, you know, work) thanks to how well this comfort food preserves. Chinese takeout generally comes in large enough portions to last you two to three days, and luckily it tastes just as greasy and good reheated as it does on the first day.
Mash them, bake them, fry them, bake them twice — the possibilities are endless. In a quick ode to potatoes, just think about all the dishes they’ve enhanced in the past. They’re a tasty carb that you can (almost) justify as a vegetable, they’re good at any time of day, and they last unprepared in your fridge for up to three months. The best potato dish for reheating is, of course, the mashed potato. Add some extra butter and throw it back in the microwave for a warm bowl of potato-heaven that takes little preparation.
The casserole is the staple of family comfort food. You can put a wide range of ingredients in it and have an entire meal in less than an hour. However, casseroles make great next-day meals as well. Since both meat and potatoes form a gelatin layer as they cool, they’re able to soak up the components and flavors of the other ingredients. Preserve the casserole in the fridge (for up to four days), and reheat it covered in the microwave.
Chili, like soup, tastes just as good the second day. Mix the ingredients and toss a bowl in the microwave, reheat it in the crockpot, or eat it cold for a hearty meal that won’t require any further preparation past the first day. Health advocates, don’t fear, as we’ve compiled the healthiest chili recipes you can make. Chili will keep up to four days in the fridge or up to four months if properly stored.
The entire Thanksgiving meal
Thanksgiving is one part family, two parts leftovers. This meal is the leftover event of the season and leaves college kids with Tupperware containers higher than their heads to stuff in their mini fridges for the next week or two. Turkey, stuffing, sweet potato pie, and most other Thanksgiving dishes undeniably make the tastiest leftovers ever, and that’s something to give thanks for. Try these tips to revamp traditional turkey leftovers and be sure to store meat and dairy-based dishes appropriately.
The dessert has an entire factory dedicated to its existence, and if that doesn’t speak to just how delicious cheesecake is, we don’t know what does. However, cheesecake is difficult to make from home and decadent to buy, so it’s rare that the average baker or buyer gets it often. The solution? Make one cheesecake and store it up for up to five days in the fridge to finish off the work day with the delectable dessert. It tastes just as good day after day, and you can store it for up to six months frozen if you want to enjoy it in moderation.
Tuna, chicken, or egg salad
Mayonnaise-based salads like tuna, chicken, egg and macaroni taste great after a day in the refrigerator. The next time you head home with leftovers from a picnic, think twice before tossing them out. As long as the salads haven’t been sitting outside and uncovered for more than two hours, they’re safe to refrigerate. Since these dishes are mayonnaise-based, it’s important to store them in proper containers instead of covered with Saran wrap. Make a sandwich, throw a scoop on top of some greens, or dip into them with chips for up to four days later.
Baked chicken makes the perfect leftover dish. Eat the dish cold, reheat it, or use it as an ingredient to mix things up and create an entirely new dinner. Chicken is also a great protein source to use in your meal prep for the week. By preparing your meals ahead of time you can diet more effectively, save money, and reuse food in creative and healthy ways.
Like chicken, rice is a great ingredient for meal prepping throughout the week. Add in some freshly cooked meat or vegetables, fry it up with an egg, add some soy sauce — the possibilities are endless. Rice preserves well and can last in the fridge for up to a week, which gives you the opportunity to use the grain throughout the week. Try these quick and easy rice recipes for some inspiration if you want to add flavor to your dinner.
There’s actually a scientific reason why leftovers are amazing
The Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) proved that there’s a method behind the madness of why leftovers are so appetizing. The chemical reactions that produce more or new flavor molecules continue to take place after the food is initially cooked. Reheating leftovers can actually release amino acids that interact with proteins to enhance the savory taste of certain dishes the second time around!