Have you heard of “planned-overs”? How about repurposing leftovers?
When someone asks me for a meal plan, I will often educate on these topics instead. The reason being—meal plans are not realistic or flexible enough for most people to manage long-term. Repurposing leftovers or creating multiple meals out of the same ingredients usually is.
The idea of “planned-overs” begins with a decently stocked refrigerator and pantry. Options include a few fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, a couple proteins, milk and yogurt, eggs and a cheese, some type of bread, a grain (oats, rice, pasta or quinoa) and canned beans and tomatoes.
From there, get creative.
With these ingredients and kitchen staples, you can likely make some version of the following dishes without too much trouble or time, and all the while, cater to your taste and nutrition preferences.
Need an example? I have a few :)
Your refrigerator contains cooked ground beef, rotisserie chicken, eggs, milk, yogurt, shredded cheddar cheese, spinach and romaine, broccoli and strawberries (plus other staples). Your pantry has tortillas, pasta, beans and marinara. What can you make?
One idea that comes to mind is a tortilla pizza. Whether you go with BBQ chicken or classic beef and cheese, begin with a toasted tortilla. Set the oven to 350 degrees, and toast the tortilla until it is just beginning to crisp. Load the tortilla with desired toppings and return to the oven on broil. Remove the pizza from the oven when the cheese has melted and toppings warmed. Enjoy with fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc.
Or, another idea may be a salad. Not just a plain-Jane greens and dressing type of salad, but rather, one with lots of flavor. How about a Southwest salad? Add taco seasoning to the ground beef and salsa to your ranch dressing. Layer these with corn, cheese and black beans over Romaine lettuce. A salad with a little extra oomph!
Have you tried using “planned-overs”? And if so, what strategy would you suggest for quick and easy meals at home? Any additional meal ideas to share?
Gretchen Stroberg, RD, LD, CDCES
Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist