Saturday, July 6, 2013


It seems, at least in my family, that no one likes leftovers.  Eating the same thing two days in a row elicits groans around here.  I remember growing up eating leftovers and not liking it much either.  Leftovers make you think of meat being dry and veggies and sides being overcooked and, well, icky.  

Years ago, I started working with "Planned-overs".  Planned-overs are the remnants of a prior meal reincarnated.  My family hates leftovers but doesn't even notice planned-overs and when they do, they like them.  They've even come to recognize when some meals are served that there is a favorite meal  coming up.  

The main thing that I plan-over is meat.  I have beef butchered so I always have roasts cut to be on the larger side.  At the grocery or butcher, you can just get the biggest roast that your family can use.  I also buy the largest chicken.  When I find pork tenderloins on sale, I buy a large one of those too. 

Now, don't just go out and buy the largest side of beef you can find, there is some planning to this, hence the name, planned-overs!  For this to work, it starts with your meal planning.  You have to consider several things:  What your planned-overs are going to be?  How long between meals will there be?  If it is more than a day or so, how will you store your extra?  I generally try to alternate meals through the week, beef, chicken, pork, meatless, etc.  This isn't a hard fast rule but I do try to keep some variety in the meals.

For beef, I like to start with a large roast made in the crock pot with potatoes and carrots.  Make sure that you don't go overboard with the veggies because we're not working with them for planned-overs.  With the extra meat, you can plan to have beef Manhattans in a day or so, or you can freeze it for later use.      If you are going to freeze it, don't just toss all the meat in the freezer, judge what you'll need for meal and separate it.  For us, a large roast will feed us the pot roast meal, followed by Manhattans, there is sometimes enough to make bbq beef as well.  Keep in mind that any tidbits left from the roast of the Manhattans can be put in a Ziploc to use later for Vegetable Beef soup.  So if you think an $18 dollar roast (I looked at random large roasts at Kroger last time I was there) is too expensive for a family of 4 for a meal, you're right.  But if you consider that same $18 roast would feed your family of 4 up to 4 meals, that is $4.50 per meal which is much more budget friendly.

For chicken, I try to get a large chicken to roast.  I was lucky enough to have a rotisserie given to me and I love it!  I can get a rotisserie chicken like you get in the store but it is bigger and I control the salt and what seasonings are put on it.  Chicken can be eaten that night with a nice baked potato and a veggie.  The extra chicken can be divided into two other meals if the chicken was good size.  I will use it to make chicken a la king and chicken and dumplings.  Again, if you have little tidbits left, you can put it in a Ziploc in the fridge to use for chicken and noodle soup.

A pork tenderloin on sale is a favorite of mine.  It is much leaner and no bones.  I will slice some of it into chops to grill.  The rest of it I will put it in the crock pot with a little apple juice.  This can be eaten as is or when it is done  you can use a couple of forks to shred it and add BBQ sauce for pulled pork sandwiches.  Any extra pulled pork can be put up in a Ziploc for sandwiches on the weekend.

When I find ham on sale, I buy a big one and have the butcher slice 4 or 6 ham steaks off the larger end, depending on how big the ham is.  I will package the slices in 2 slices per Ziploc bag which is a meal for us, so 2-3 meals with the steaks.  I will bake the ham and whatever we don't eat with dinner, I will cube up.  Some of it's uses are ham scalloped potatoes, ham, O'brien potatoes and eggs or even to add ham cubes to ham and beans if you don't have a ham hock big enough to cut the meat off of.

Some veggies I do plan-over.  I grow and can green beans and a pint jar isn't enough for our family but a really full quart is too much.  So I will plan green beans one day and then again a day or so later.  You can also use some of those ham chunks or the tail end of the ham itself to flavor those beans.  

You can even mash some extra potatoes for dinner and use the extras to make potato pancakes.  Mashed potatoes can be used to thicken potato soup or other cream soups.  

I know this one will sound odd, but I save bacon grease in a mason jar in the fridge.  Those of you older than 40 and from the south will know why.  For those who aren't either of those, bacon grease is a great flavoring.  My Gram used to fry almost everything in bacon grease.  We know that's not exactly the healthy way to do it.  You can however use a healthier oil and a tablespoon of bacon grease to add flavor without having to fry it entirely in bacon grease.  In a pinch, I have also added a tablespoon of bacon grease into green beans to flavor them.  Fried chicken made in Crisco or some other vegetable shortening and a tablespoon or so of bacon grease makes it taste like Gram made it.  I fry potatoes the same way to have with ham and beans. I use it in moderation but I couldn't imagine cooking in a kitchen without bacon grease.

So planned-overs start with your menus.  Figure out what meals your family likes, how you can  use your food to its fullest by stretching and turning it into a new meal.  Start with one planned-over meal at first until you get the hang of it.  You can do it!


  1. When I roast a chicken I will also simmer the leftover carcass and freeze the broth to be used later or with the leftovers for chicken and noodles, a favorite around here.

  2. I totally forgot to mention boiling the carcass. I do that too. We love chicken and dumplings!

  3. I love this!! I did this with my burger and thought I was pretty slick!! I love all of your suggestions. Would you be willing to share some of your plan-over recipes??!!

  4. Chari, I'll work on writing some of them down. A lot of times, I just wing things! LOL