The Question of Leftovers


I love leftovers. Leftovers, for me, mean

  • I don’t have to cook the next day.
  • I don’t have to do dishes the next day.
  • I don’t have to go out for lunch or pick-up take-out that comes in super-sized portions (and calories) and less-than-stellar taste.

Leftovers are also inevitable when you’re only cooking for 1 or 2. Veggies are easy to find in single-serving sizes but most grocery stores frequently package meat in quantities fit for 4 or more–same for many other goods. Cooking for 4 takes the same amount of effort that cooking for 1 does and results in more prepared meals instead partial bits of boxes and cans.

Some folks, though–and I fail to comprehend the why–have a real issue with leftovers. As in, they can’t stand them, won’t touch them much less eat them and regard this as trash. My friend’s dad was this way. Serve it once and if it wasn’t finished at that meal he didn’t ever want to see it again, even used in a new dish.

This baffles me because I know several dishes–everything from a seafood dip to a good marinara–can be improved by a night in the fridge. This happens because the flavors have time to really hang out and mingle, they spread through the dish and permeate every corner.

Sure, there’s a limit to the lifespan of a pork chop under refrigeration–after 4 days or so I wouldn’t suggest anyone eat it. But a meatloaf sandwich the next day or a pot of soup that gets you through the week, that’s a deliciously beautiful thing! [Caveat: all leftovers should be reheated properly to a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit–165 is a safer best–before being consumed. Safety first!]

True, some things don’t reheat well. Rice and pasta–dry things–tend to need a little help. Sprinkling either with water before popping into the microwave or toaster oven help hydrate the drier parts during reheating. Breads should never be put into the microwave for more then, say, 20 seconds or you’re going to end up with a brick about 10 seconds after it cools.

But why the lack of love towards the leftover? Seriously, if you don’t like leftovers please leave me a comment and try to help me understand. It might not be solvable, but I really would like to understand.


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