This week, I’ve been re-reading All the Money in the World, the personal finance book I wrote a decade ago. I’m discussing it with a book club and I realized that I hadn’t read more than a few pages from it in at least 7 years. So I wanted to make sure I remembered what I had written!
One of my arguments was that if you get the big pieces right (e.g. spending less on housing than you could) then basically you can buy whatever you want in the grocery store. A decade after writing the book, I am happy to report that I am more comfortable with this philosophy. We buy a lot of great ingredients and cook many good meals.
Once we cook those meals, though, I become more flinty. I would prefer not to waste leftovers, which just feels like throwing money into the trash.
My big kids are usually home for lunch, and they have been eating a ton of Annie’s shells and white cheddar mac and cheese (hey, it’s organic!) Some days they devour all they have made. Some days they don’t. On those days of slighter appetites, I have been packing up the leftovers in our handy containers, and sticking them in the fridge. Then, they sit there. When reminded about the existence of said leftovers, the kids would demur.
This was starting to irk me. Eventually I asked what was wrong with the leftovers. I learned that they were “hard” and “dry” and “not as tasty.” So this week, I hit upon a solution. We would skip the microwave. We would re-heat the mac and cheese in a sauce pan on the stove, with fresh butter and milk (basically making a new cheese sauce).
Sure enough, the leftovers were deemed far tastier. They got eaten.
I had a similar victory myself with leftover fries. We’ve been experimenting with baking fries. My husband has a new process that involves soaking the cut potatoes in cold water, then cooking them first at a low temperature, and then at a high temperature. They are good straight out of the oven. They are just not good the next day. We had been throwing them out, but then I decided to see what I could do. I chopped up some leftover steak, some veggies, and cut the fries into little cubes. Then I cooked it all in olive oil on the stove top. The potatoes became tasty again and had a much more pleasing texture with so much cooked surface. No mush!
I generally think leftovers are pretty good as they are (see the photo of the Sunbasket meal kit salad that I will be eating for lunch today!), but if they aren’t so good, there’s probably a way to improve the situation. Any meat and veggie combo can become an omelet with scrambled eggs (we put pepperoni in the other day!) If a meat and veggie combo didn’t have a strong flavor profile before, it could be incorporated into fried rice.
Ok, and I recently ate a “leftover” cupcake for breakfast. Hey, it’s not that different from a cinnamon roll!
Have you had any leftovers victories lately?
In other news: Not exactly leftovers, but I’ve also determined that if no one wants to eat the broken pieces at the bottom of the cereal box, you can open a new box and then mix in a few of the cereal dregs to each of the first few bowls.
In other other news: I was in the Washington Post this week, writing about “6 ways parents can deal with work-from-home interruptions.” (subscription required after the first few articles)