Working with Leftovers

Kimchi Chicken Stir Fry

Kimchi Chicken Stir Fry, made with leftover Kimchi Chicken and fresh veggies.

Between overestimating the amount of raw protein we need to yield two five-, six- or seven-ounce portions, and sometimes having to purchase more than we need for a meal for two (two-pound bags of frozen shrimp come to mind), we sometimes end up with leftovers — usually an odd size: not enough for another meal for both of us, too much for a meal for one.

Because we’re controlling our food intake and measuring everything, and only eating the one meal per day, it would be easy to let these leftovers go to waste. It would also be easy to stray off program by snacking on them spontaneously, just because they’re there!

Instead, we plan them into a meal within the next couple of days. (This helps address the spontaneous snacking temptation: if you have a plan for the food, it’s off-limits for snacking!)

Leftover fish? Surf & turf the next night! Just cook a proportionally appropriate amount of steak or bison to accompany the fish.

Leftover pork or lamb? Mixed grille! Pick another protein and cook some up to fill out the portion size you need.

Leaner and leanest proteins work great in a stir-fry, as long as they weren’t cooked in oil to begin with. Try throwing grilled chicken breast into a pan of sautéed veggies at the last moment. Add some nonfat liquid to help keep the chicken moist.

Some cold leftovers, like salmon or chicken, make a great meal sitting atop a salad.

Intentionally overcooking can also make for quick dinner preparations one or two nights a week.

Now, let’s circle back to the idea of snacking on leftovers. While it’s not something we want to do regularly, the fact is that an ounce or two of lean protein is a better “cheat” than a lot of other things. If we find our tummy growling ahead of schedule and we have some leftover lean protein in the fridge, we’ll have an ounce or two, rather than grabbing more carbs. If we’re going through a period of wrestling with hunger, we plan ahead to have some “leftover” lean protein on hand to subdue the beast, or we might find ourselves reaching for something off program!

Check out our posts tagged with “leftovers .” These dishes feature leftover proteins we had in the fridge.

We make leftovers our friend by working them into our program. We just don’t snack on them too much!