Hand-me-downs, Leftovers and Re-runs

Are you, or do you know someone who is, one of those people who won’t eat leftovers, and would rather die than wear hand-me-down clothes?  Maybe they have the mindset that everything has to be new and fresh, or somehow someone is getting shortchanged?  I don’t get it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do have my limits.  Clearly, undergarments and swimwear, or anything that has ever touched someone else’s nether bits is off-limits.  Did I really even need to call that one out?  But I also have this thing about wearing someone else’s shoes—just can’t do it.  Not even if they are supposedly “sanitized”.  This is why renting bowling shoes, ice skates, or other such footwear is not in my repertoire.  I rank it right up there with eating eyeballs and parts of the digestive tract.  It just isn’t happening.

But in all other matters, I prefer old to new. 

Undergarments and footwear aside, I love vintage clothes.  I love them because if I am wearing something that was first sewn and worn in 1955, I am pretty sure that nobody else at the party will show up wearing the same thing I am.  I do get the same sense of satisfaction in custom-made clothes, or in one-of-a-kind boutiques, but I am rather fond of the arm and leg that such clothes cost me….Vintage clothes are usually much more affordable, and again, I like that they have a history, or at least I can imagine that they do.  And you can take parts of them and sew them into something new and fabulous, and then feel really good about re-purposing something, rather than it being tossed.

And how nice to wear your grandma’s re-worked wedding gown, and your husband’s  great-grandma’s wedding ring?  Such a great story and tradition to pass down through the generations.

I like old homes rather than new ones.  I think that’s because an old home has a story.  There is history in its walls, and it is palpable.  Memories and imaginings of what might have come before me—children laughing in the hallway, families living and loving, celebrating and mourning, being born and growing old together.  These memories fill a house, making it warm, providing a comforting feeling that embraces me. I just don’t get that in new construction.   

Exact same way I feel about antiques.  I can spend hours in antique shops.  Touching items that are 150 years old.  Everything has as a story.  Who first owned this old wooden dough bowl?  Did her husband carve it for her?  Was it a wedding gift?  What happened to her?  How many hands did the bowl pass through to get here?  You can imagine such great or terrible things with each item you touch.  It’s like reading a bunch of books all at once.   In fact, I have filled my house with antiques, to get that feeling in my home, since I live in a newer house.

And re-runs—who doesn’t love re-runs?  I still watch Seinfeld, even though I have seen all of them multiple times, and I still think they’re funny every time.  And every Saturday night finds me watching Two Fat Ladies on The Cooking Channel, even though I have seen every episode at least 5 times (they only made like 24 episodes after all).  Those broads crack me up.  “And make sure to use real buttah,and real crrream….none of that low-fat nonsense…..”  Love them.

And I know a great many people feel the same way I do about most of these “used” things.

How funny then, that so many people have an aversion to eating leftovers.  My kids will not eat anything that wasn’t just made.   Not even buttered pasta.  Seriously?  Yeah, seriously.

The way around this problem is really quite simple.  Subterfuge.  I use the same sort of sneaky, conniving tactics that I use to get them to eat vegetables.  I hide leftovers in other things.  If they don’t recognize it as the same thing they ate a few days ago, then they don’t know I have “repurposed” the meat and they are no worse for the wear. 

I love leftovers, because they make for quick meal preparation on days that I just don’t have the time, the energy, or the inclination to go through a full meal prep.  It keeps the meals varied and interesting for those of us who DO know where Tuesday’s meat loaf went…

The week before summer vacation, I always use up as much as I can of the perishables in the fridge…includnig dairy, produce, and leftovers.  That way I don’t come home to any smelly, slimy, fuzzy surprises.

Here are some of my favorite food re-purposing tactics.


Meatball Marinara Lasagna



Using leftover taco filling or picadillo:

Sloppy Joe’s—heat the meat in a skillet with some minced onion and bell pepper.  Add your favorite barbecue sauce and heat through.  Serve on buns.

Spaghetti Sauce—heat in a saucepan with minced peppers, onions, mushrooms, and top with tomato puree.  Add a bit of chopped basil, salt, pepper and a bit of sugar to taste, and serve over pasta.

Shepherd’s Pie—mix 4 cups meat with 1 can condensed tomato soup.  Place in bottom of 2 quart casserole dish.  Top with 32 oz can corn, drained.  Top with 3-4 cups leftover mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

Taco Soup—add meat to crock pot.  Top with one can each of corn, pinto beans, black beans, and 32 oz can stewed tomatoes.  Add on packet of taco seasoning.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve topped with corn chips and shredded cheese.

Spaghetti With Meatloaf Bolognese

Using leftover meatloaf/meatballs:

Spaghetti Bolognese—break 1 pound leftover meatloaf up in a skillet or saucepan, heating through.  Add one can beef broth, ½ cup red wine, 6 oz evaporated milk, and one small can of tomato paste.  Cook until hot, and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season if necessary with salt and pepper.  Serve over cooked pasta.

Meatballs Marinara Lasagna–using leftover meatballs or meatloaf, and marinara sauce, use your favorite lasagna recipe.  Sooo much better than plain meat sauce or Italian sausage.

Using leftover chicken:

Chicken taco soup—see above, for taco soup.  Substitute grilled, roasted, or smoked chicken for taco meat.

Smoked Chicken Salad—using one pound of leftover smoked or bbq chicken (remove skin and bones), shred or chop and place in a bowl.  Add 1 cup red or green grapes, that have been cut in half.  Add ½ cup toasted slivered almonds, and ½ cup chopped parsley.  Mix ¾ cup each mayonnaise and plain greek yogurt.  Mix all together, and serve cold.

Chicken and Dumplings—using leftover roasted or broiled chicken…remove skin and bones, and chop meat.  Place in stock pot, and cover with water by several inches.  Add enough chicken bouillon to make a flavorful broth.  Add a few stalks sliced celery, and a few carrots if desired.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Using 10 flour tortillas, cut into 2 inch pieces and put in the pot, stirring to break them up.  Place lid on pot, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Serve hot.  Alternately, you can use two cans of refrigerator biscuits (buttermilk), cut into quarters.

Chicken and Biscuit Dumplings

Using leftover Chili:

Texican Lasagna—use your favorite lasagna recipe, substituting chili for the marinara sauce, and cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese for the cheeses.

Cincinnati Chili—serve chili over spaghetti noodles, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions.

Cincinnati Chili

 Create something new and yummy!

 Happy Cooking!






Categories: Food, Gourmet, humor, recipes, Texas, writing


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37 Comments on “Hand-me-downs, Leftovers and Re-runs”

  1. 2012/06/29 at 3:28 pm #

    Sooo many good ideas! My husband hates leftovers, but these pictures and recipes give me ways to prepare what we had left over so he doesn’t even realize they’re leftovers! Thanks!

  2. 2012/06/29 at 3:35 pm #

    Great ideas! I love leftovers – makes lunch so easy. I make roasted vegetables and recycle them in thousands of ways. My favorite – served over pasta with extra olive oil, Parmesan, and pine nuts.

    • 2012/06/29 at 3:41 pm #

      Oh, yes….Love them…I make them into a simple roast vegetable soup.

      • 2012/06/29 at 3:44 pm #

        Mmm. I will add that to my repertoire.

  3. 2012/06/29 at 3:52 pm #

    Here’s the deal: I can re-purpose my own creations. I just don’t want to be served anyone else’s leftovers. As for hand-me-down clothing — I was raised on them and I have no problem dressing our 4-year-old grandson in a pink Dora the Explorer T-shirt that belonged to his aunt. And I’d love to know what channel is replaying Two Fat Ladies. I was fortunate enough to interview them during their short on-air stint in the US, about two years before Jennifer Paterson died of cancer. And please don’t tell me it’s the Cooking Channel, because I don’t get that here.

    • 2012/06/29 at 4:28 pm #

      Oh, I would never eat someone else’s leftovers, unless like me they hid them in something else and I didn’t know….But I also wouldn’t feed leftovers to guests. Just my family.

      I am SAD to tell you that the TFL reruns do play on The Cooking Channel….2 episodes in a row every Saturday night…

  4. 2012/06/29 at 5:53 pm #

    My feelings about leftovers were formed in my childhood, when reheating leftovers could be pretty nasty. There were no microwaves, so your choices were basically boiling or frying. In any case, my mother was pretty good at estimating portions. (That’s a knack I wish I had.) My latest (and final) wife, on the other hand, pretty much depended on leftovers and she knew how to do it in the microwave. Some things work, some things don’t. When she was in charge of meals, we frequently had reheated whatever. Since we were both working full time, plus handling three kids who were picky eaters, she didn’t make leftovers into something else. They remained what they had been originally, with one exception: she would use leftover steak or roast beef to make beef stroganoff.

    Now that I do the bulk of the cooking, I usually make a ton of something that can be frozen in containers and reheated in the microwave whenever my wife gets home. That doesn’t count as leftovers.

    When it comes to clothes, I didn’t get much in the way of hand-me-downs. I was the older of two, and most of my cousins were several years older than I. They were also much bigger.

    Antiques have never been my thing. I do like the occasional oddity, but age has nothing to do with it. I have my grandmother’s dining room set, and some other odds and ends with sentimental value, but nothing with any particular history.

  5. 2012/06/29 at 6:37 pm #

    One of my favorite leftover creations is adding cooked rice to spaghetti sauce and stuffing bell peppers.

  6. 2012/06/29 at 7:38 pm #

    Haha love the strategies! I’ll have to remember that if my kids turn out to be picky eaters =P
    Just wanted to say a quick hello and thanks for stopping by my blog before I take off for vacation. I really appreciate it! 🙂

  7. jetr1
    2012/06/29 at 8:11 pm #

    I love leftovers. When my kids were small, we had leftover Saturday. What was leftover in the fridge, we ate. Almost like a buffet.

  8. 2012/06/29 at 8:34 pm #

    Making more than enough for dinner one night, and having it the next night is like having some one cook dinner for you. And how good is that. I wouldn’t serve left overs to guests. If I invite someone to dinner I splash out and cook something wonderful. As for clothes, shoes (yes even shoes) and anything else, I’m your girl. I am a thrift shop junkie and I’ve found everything for Hugo Boss Cashmere jackets for my husband, to Versace, Ralph Laurene and Escada clothes for myself. My motto is shop high and buy low. And have a lot of fun without spending a load of $$$$. Virginia

  9. Missus Tribble
    2012/06/29 at 11:55 pm #

    We LOVE experimenting with leftovers in this house! That last bit of pork can become a delicious stir-fry and leftover bologneise can easily become a chilli or a cottage pie. Very rarely does any food in this house go uneaten because neither of us believe in wasting anything.

    I’m exactly the same as you when it comes to shoes – unless they’re from a family member. I’m also a bit wary of hats.

    • 2012/06/30 at 12:19 am #

      Oh, yeah….I wouldn’t wear used hats either…but I barely wear them anyway, so that’s not a big sacrifice.

      • Missus Tribble
        2012/06/30 at 12:40 am #

        I am almost never seen without my hat! 🙂

  10. 2012/06/30 at 10:11 am #

    My absolute favourite left over food is cake pops! Any cake bits trimmed off from a shaped novelty cake, or others than have gone slightly past their best – crumb them up, mix with buttercream and coat in chocolate, YUM!

  11. 2012/06/30 at 10:18 am #

    I love LEFTOVERS! I purposely make lots of everything, so I don’t have to cook the next day. But, then again, I also love cold pizza for breakfast, so I’m not exactly fussy. I also love vintage clothing, yard sales, and second-hand books–although I am horrified by some the smears and globs that I sometimes find on the pages. (Sorry, threw up in my mouth a bit thinking about that. It’s okay though…tastes like white chocolate peanut butter. See..told you…not fussy at all. Even enjoy food the second time around!) And I also watch Seinfeld every night right before bed–there’s something relaxing about knowing ahead of time that everything will work out in the end. Plus, it makes me laugh. Oh, that George.

  12. livingforjackie
    2012/06/30 at 10:37 am #

    I didn’t really have a lot of leftovers growing up….with 4 kids there wasn’t a lot of leftovers to have! But like you I enjoy leftovers….and some things just taste better the next day or so……but I too ususally make them into something else….. 🙂 and I would never wear hand me down shoes….ugh….but I am never to proud to wear hand me downs…..I love antiques! I love old things…they all have a story……

  13. 2012/06/30 at 10:52 am #

    Hey I want to pin this!
    I thought I was the leftover queen, I want to file this with leftover ideas on Pinterest! brilliant……love that you make me think about dinner rather than saving the world, such a break!

  14. 2012/06/30 at 10:56 am #

    I’m with you! I hardly throw away anything. It get recycled into something delicious and we eat it!

  15. leftoverrecipes
    2012/07/01 at 3:08 am #

    I totally agree (that’s why I blog leftover recipes 😉 ) I always use subterfuge because otherwise the food isn’t as interesting. You added some great ideas!
    Hand-me-downs – No problem with that, except for shoes. We were taught never to wear used shoes because it is considered unhealthy – shoes shape themselves to the wearer, so used shoes will never fit you. Other than that – we pass baby clothing all over the family. Why shell out so much money for something that will be worn 3 months?

  16. 2012/07/01 at 4:48 pm #

    Love this post! I live in a 99-year-old house, I resolved this year to only buy secondhand clothes (with the exception of bridesmaid dresses and accessories), most of my furniture is from thrift stores and consignment shops, and I am borderline-OCD about using up leftovers. So you and I have a lot in common. 🙂

  17. 2012/07/02 at 2:37 am #

    Duuuuuuuuuuuuude. I love leftovers too. I try to get creative and visit the FoodNetwork for tips, so I’m glad you posted this. 🙂

  18. 2012/07/02 at 3:49 am #

    🙂 this blog is absolutely great. i just thought i’d let you know you’ve been nominated for the one lovely blog award. check it out: http://alyssiadiaz.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/i-do-love-awards-who-doesnt/

  19. monica Thornburgh
    2012/07/02 at 2:22 pm #

    I’ve never seen dumplings made from refridgerated bisquit dough. I was raised on bisquick dumplings. Drop in, and boil for 10 minutes with the lid on, (no peeking!) and then 12 minutes off. Is the consistancy the same with the bisquits? Or the tortillas for that matter either?

    • 2012/07/02 at 2:53 pm #

      Hi Monica! I was raised on the Bisquick ones also…Using the refrigerated biscuit dough makes a slightly more dense dumpling, but still fluffier than the roll and cut kind. I like the denser ones, personally. The tortillas make for dumplings that are more like really thick pasta noodles..more like the roll and cuts…With the tortillas, the goal is to have a very thick, stew like product, rather than soup. You can put TONS of tortillas in there.

  20. 2012/07/03 at 9:22 am #

    When we fire up the grill to cook chicken, we often cook extra chicken knowing that we aren’t going to eat it that night. It doesn’t take extra time or charcoal after all. The chicken is then vacuum sealed and frozen for later when time is short, or made into a casserole, soup or pot pie later in the week. Love your other ideas and will be using those.

    • 2012/07/03 at 9:59 am #

      I need to get better about grilling extra….because you’re right–might as well do it while you have the grill lit, and save some time later on….

  21. 2012/07/03 at 1:18 pm #

    I too love leftovers and hand-me-downs. Great post!

  22. 2012/07/05 at 7:08 pm #

    It never occurred to me to throw chili on pasta, but it’s such a lightbulb moment now that you mention it. Yum!

  23. Sanctified Brother
    2012/07/07 at 1:52 pm #

    We’re fortunate to not have an issue with leftovers. Our family of four has a voracious appetite so we generally don’t have much left over. Still, when there is, we don’t mind having it for lunch. I’ve eaten last night’s dinner for breakfast just because it tastes good!

    I salute your skills in subterfuge. You seem to have a handle on it. Keep it up!

  24. 2012/07/12 at 11:30 am #

    You are so very clever…and sneaky. lol

  25. 2012/07/18 at 6:01 pm #

    I usually cook so that I have leftovers. Leftover meat to be reinvented the next day, but it is so much faster then defrosting and cooking. I prefer to cook only two or three times a week, the other days I am cooking, but it is the reinvention of the meal from the day before! WAHOO! Thank God for leftovers and cheese . . . . cheese helps A LOT!

  26. 2012/07/28 at 5:25 pm #

    Genius ideas. Yay!

  27. 2012/08/07 at 1:49 pm #

    Wow, Nice way to use left overs! Excited to try out!


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