If you’re already cooking, why not get a head start on tomorrow night’s dinner? We have a few easy tricks that can help you do just that.
It doesn’t take any extra time to put a second pot of water on the stovetop to boil. Keep your cooked and cooled pasta (tossed with a tiny drizzle of olive oil) in an air-tight container in your refrigerator. Then, the following night, it’s ready to be dropped into homemade soup, mixed with sauce, and topped with cheese for a quick baked ziti, or to bulk up leafy green salads.
Rice is another easy staple to cook in advance. For best results, cook the extra rice in excess water in a pan without a cover. When the rice is a few minutes shy of being fully cooked, remove it from the heat, drain the excess water, and rinse the rice two times in cold water to stop the cooking. Then, store the rice in an air-tight container in your refrigerator. Serving it with beans tonight? Try making arancini or topping it with chili tomorrow.
Soups and stews are incredibly versatile, so always double up when you’re making a batch. Try draining some of the liquids (or thickening it with a roux) and using leftover soup or stew in pot pies, shepherds pies, or as the filling for empanadas. Or, add some curry spices to chicken soup, thicken it with Greek yogurt, and serve it over rice for a quick Indian-inspired meal.
I love roasting vegetables in the oven. They become soft and flavorful (with a little bit of crispy char along the edges) and make great leftovers. Store extra roasted vegetables in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and you’ll have a head start on any recipe that calls for them. Mashing or puréeing roasted vegetables is easy too, saving you time on those recipes as well.
Taking an extra three minutes to rub butter and seasonings on a second chicken can save you a lot of time over the course of the next few days. When the extra chicken has cooled, quickly pick the meat from the bones; it can be tossed with taco seasonings for fajitas, smothered in barbecue sauce for sandwiches, or simply tossed into pasta later in the week.
And by bread, we mean everything from pizza dough to tortillas. Just about any leftover tastes good baked onto a pizza crust, served on top of crusty, toasted bread, or turned into tacos!
Roasted vegetables, leftover pasta with sauce, sautéed greens, and cooked meat all taste great in egg bakes. Whether you’re making a quiche or a frittata, consider last night’s leftovers as part (or all) of the filling before you start cooking.