Who wants leftovers?

I’ll be honest, I was never a big fan of leftovers, which probably stems from the weird casseroles my mom made in the 80s. The leftover casserole would sit in the fridge until my dad ate it (he would eat anything). I also had a roommate in my early 20s who would eat everyone’s leftovers, which left a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended). But now, as a mom, I have a different attitude. Leftovers are great: they save time, money and calories.

I’ll start with lunch. Any budgeting or nutrition expert will tell you to bring your lunch to the office, rather than eating out. It saves money and tends to be healthier, as restaurant meals are often high in calories. I’ve always been pretty good about bringing my lunch, knowing that it was a better way to maintain my budget and my waistline.

When I was single, I would cook chicken and pasta or make a turkey sandwich for lunch. That required buying different food and taking the time to prepare it. Now when we make dinner, we just make a little extra. It’s not hard to throw an extra breast of chicken or a little more ground turkey into a pan. It also doesn’t require you to do dishes twice. I understand it’s not exciting to eat the same thing for lunch that you had the night before, but I’ve had occasions when the food actually tastes better the second time: too-spicy turkey tacos were neutralized after time in the fridge and overly crispy pizza was softened a bit by re-heating it in the microwave.

Extra food for the adults in our house rarely makes it past the next day’s lunch, but for the kids we often make extra veggies or other side items, then pair them with the next night’s dinner entrée. Fortunately, they don’t complain about the repetition and it saves us time not having to prepare a new side dish each day. I may have jinxed myself by writing that, but for now, it works.

I’ve eaten leftovers for lunch both days this week. Although I’d rather eat a Chipotle burrito, the leftovers took a minute to heat in the microwave, I didn’t spend money and I ate about half as many calories as I would have if I’d eaten out. I can use the time I saved to run an errand and the money I saved on a trip to visit friends this weekend. As for those calories? Well, I’m sure I’ll make up for them somewhere. Halloween candy, anyone?