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3 Tips for Fast Dinners Using Healthy Leftovers!

What’s for Dinner?

That’s the question that many of us hear a million times per year from the mouths of hungry children, husbands and even from the minds of our own growling bellies.

Making a nutritious meal for dinner, that is quick and easy can be overwhelming to say the least. We spend so many hours planning, preparing and cooking dinner which leads to us sitting on the sidelines of all the family fun.

Reclaim you time and make dinner from the shelves of your refrigerator! You’ve probably been eating healthy all week and now you have a little bit of kale, a little bit of leftover chicken and whole lot of little bits of things.

Before you get tempted to start cooking another nutritious meal, consider these tricks of the trade that will have your family eating dinner in no time!

1. Cook More Than One Protein On the Same Day

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or a meat lover, protein is an important part of our meals. Protein helps to keep us feeling full for longer periods which helps with weight control and weight loss.

In my experience, protein takes longer to cook and prepare than any of the other food groups.

If you cook 2 proteins on a Sunday night, like chicken and black beans, you can eat one that night and the other can be eaten on Monday night. Depending on how much protein you cook, these 2 proteins can last an entire week!

You can keep enough in your fridge for 2 days and freeze the remainder. This will keep you on track with healthy eating and save you so much time! Especially on evenings when you are chauffeuring your kids from football, karate, and cheerleader practices.

2. Remix Your Leftovers!

I like to pretend like I’m a contestant on Chopped and look in the basket (my fridge) and see what I can create.

Since I don’t have a culinary background, I turn to my friend, the casserole. The casserole has been here as for as long as electricity (I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s been around for a while).

A casserole is a life saver for making a quick, healthy dinner using the leftovers from your fridge. Casseroles pretty much all have the same make up.

You need protein (meat or beans) and/or a veggie, and something to hold it all together (eggs, milk, cheese, flour). I love a casserole because it makes dinner a no-brainer, it’s makes healthy eating easy and it has food on the table in minutes.

I often use broccoli as my veggie of choice and ground turkey as my protein when making a casserole. Kids usually think that casseroles are super boring, but you can make casseroles more exciting by adding things like pepperoni or making cauliflower mac and cheese. Don’t forget about the tried and true casserole for you next dinner. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Click here for Leftover Casserole for Busy Moms Recipe!

3. Bring Home the Buffet!

Personally, I hate eating at a buffet, but I must admit, the concept of a buffet is pretty fun. Being able to select almost anything you want to eat, whether they “go together” or not is pretty dope. Kids seem to love buffet so, that’s a major plus.

You can create a buffet in the comforting and sanitary environment of your own home. Look in your fridge and I’m sure you have leftovers that will allow you to build the ultimate buffet. Here’s how to create your own buffet at home from leftovers:

1. Take some of your fun, colorful dishes or the stuff you used for nachos at the Super Bowl Party.

2. Line the counter top or kitchen table with the bowls and containers of food from each food group. (Leftover veggies, meats, beans and a few starches)

3. Now, let the family dig and load their own plates!

Your family won’t even realize that they have been bamboozled into serving themselves! Feel free to expand the buffet options and add in quick items like salad, fruit and cheeses. You’ve already done the heavy-duty cooking days ago so, these quick add-ins it won’t take much effort.

Dinner is a Light Jog, Not a Marathon.

Preparing dinner shouldn’t feel like you're running the Boston Marathon. A good dinner doesn’t require you to be in the kitchen every night, covered in almond flour and salty tears.

Cooking dinner should feel like jogging a short distance in the park, quick and easy. Using leftovers to prepare a healthy, nutritious dinner will keep you sane and add some extra coins to your back account.

You can use the extra minutes to enjoy a long bath, play a game with your family, watch reruns of Sex and the City or just sit and relax. Just use what you have in the fridge and your family and pockets will thank you later.

Tonight, use your leftovers, sprint to the finish line and with your hands raised in victory yell, “Dinner is served!”

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