Some people can eat leftovers every day and be happy about it. Some people, on the other hand, cringe at the idea of eating leftovers EVER.
I get it! Leftovers are not the same as fresh, homemade meals. It is also not exciting to eat the same thing every day.
What can you do to set yourself up for success when you’re not a big fan of leftovers?
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Choose quick and easy options to make fresh meals.
Okay, so you don’t like leftovers. That means you need to plan out your week, have your groceries picked up and ready to go, and know what you are cooking each day. We recommend meals that are as easy and quick to throw together as possible. Otherwise on days when energy is low or time is short, you will be tempted to grab something fresh and hot from your favorite takeout spot or a drive-through. There are several ways to make throwing together a meal faster and easier.
- Use frozen foods to your advantage for quick, fresh meals. Frozen rice, frozen veggies, frozen burgers or shrimp, frozen hamburger buns—these can all be quickly and easily heated up to throw together a meal. Air fryers are great for quickly heating up many frozen food items.
- Use fresh foods to your advantage for quick, fresh meals. Have bread, tortillas, deli meat, cheese, spinach or mixed greens, tomatoes, and eggs in your fridge so you can easily make a sandwich, wrap or salad. You could also do this in advance by prepping mason jar salads for the week.
- Use the heat and serve proteins at Costco. We like Sukhi’s Chicken Tikka Masala and the Korean Style BBQ Chicken by Kevin’s Natural Foods. We also love the pre-pulled Costco rotisserie chicken breast. It is a life saver. You can use it on its own as an easy protein source, or use it for many different SFM recipes rather than starting with raw chicken—such as the chicken Florentine, Chicken Gnocchi Parmesan, and Broccoli Alfredo—and it cuts the cooking time down.
- Use a meal delivery service. Find one that focuses on protein, carb, veggie combinations for a balanced meal and ideally one that provides the macronutrients.
Find ways to make leftovers work for you.
For most of us it is not practical to prepare all of our meals from scratch each day. The best way to stick to a habit is to make it as easy as possible. Preparing a fresh lunch every single day takes time and energy that you likely won’t have every single day. If you have already prepped your lunches for the week and all you have to do is reheat it when the time comes… MUCH EASIER to stick to the plan, which makes us MORE LIKELY to stick to the plan. So how can we make leftovers more palatable when you need to use them to make life easier and reach your health/nutrition goals?
- Some leftovers are better than others. Find recipes that reheat well and work for you. Stew, soup, SFM dump lasagna, SFM Skinny Mac, SFM sloppy joes—these are all excellent leftovers! Find these delicious recipes in our Cookbooks HERE.
- HOW YOU REHEAT MATTERS. There’s a big difference in how appetizing leftovers are when you reheat in a skillet vs. the microwave. Lasagnas or casseroles can be baked a second time vs. heated in a microwave. Which brings me to…
- Invest in an air fryer! Air fryers give leftovers LIFE. They make reheated chicken, steak, shrimp (including soggy breaded shrimp), pizza, and old roasted veggies—new again!
- Repurpose your leftovers. Remake old meals into a new meal. For example, the SFM Buffalo Shredded Chicken becomes buffalo chicken burritos becomes buffalo chicken casserole. Or the SFM Mississippi Chicken is paired with rice one day, eaten on a sandwich another, or eaten with a baked potato another. Taco meat can go with a salad, tacos, potatoes, breakfast burritos. Baked veggies or yesterday’s protein can be made into a soup the next day.
- Freeze your leftovers. Make a meal, then divide leftovers into individually portioned freezer meals to eat at a later time. This helps if your struggle with leftovers is that you get bored of the same meal day after day. Over time you can create a stash of freezer meals that are easy to grab, thaw and reheat from day to day. Just be sure to label them and I recommend indicating the macros as well. Some of my favorites to freeze for an easy meal later are spaghetti sauce, chili, and vegetable beef stew. Find a big list of our freezer friendly recipes HERE.
- Reheat meat in the microwave at half power. This helps prevent your meat from getting rubbery.
Eat it anyway!
You will not always be excited about every meal. You will not always want to eat what you have planned. Just like you won’t always want to go to work or to the gym. It’s important to recognize that and to become the person who shows up anyway, works out anyway, eats the planned food anyway. If you want to make changes and live a healthier lifestyle, you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing. It is time to try new things to help you reach your goals: meal prep each week, preplan your food for each day, and eat those leftovers!