Mark has been bugging me to put the leftovers on the table more often, because they find their way to the back of the fridge and stay there until they spoil.
We already have "leftover night" now and again to try to use up all the odds 'n' ends, but I enjoyed the not-at-all stale tips in this post at A Place of Quiet Rest: The Luscious Leftover Buffet.
There are several more tips, and a couple of nice photos, at the link -- along with a brief musing on thankfulness for the abundance in our lives.
- Spread it out! If you have an empty counter, clean it off and spread out the offerings, like a buffet. Everyone likes to make choices, and buffets are super popular with kids.
- Divide it up! A single small mug of chili, soup or baked beans is fun to pick up and that way everyone who wants a taste can get one. No one needs to see that messy casserole dish, so dish it up in paper cupcake cups or little custard cups and make it something special.
- Swap the cheese! Sometimes the cheese on the top of a casserole gets overbrowned in the process of reheating. I don't feel badly in scraping off a bit of the ugly cheese and putting on fresh. Fresh cheese also dresses up a cup of chili, reheated quiche, a bit of salad or a creamy soup. The same thing goes for leftover pizza - a fresh layer really does something good for reheated pizza.
When's the best night for Leftover Night? The conventional wisdom is that it should be the evening before grocery day, since it gives you a chance to clean out the refrigerator to make room for new stuff. I rather think it should be the evening after you go grocery shopping.
You'll have to look through the fridge to get ready to make your grocery list anyway, and while you're in there you can figure out about how much of what kinds of leftovers you've got. You can also add to the list any items that'll help round out the buffet -- maybe some fresh sliced bell pepper would be great in that leftover hummus, for example.
Then, you clean out the fridge onto the counter when you get the groceries home, and set up your buffet right after.
As a bonus, you won't have to shop and cook on the same day.