Leftover Tips

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

As a mother of 12 children, I am affronted on a regular basis with leftover food items. These are not always chicken pot pie, or Hamburger Helper. Often, my leftovers are simply leftover bread or a quantity of lemon rinds. The daughter of a couple who lived during the Depression, I find it hard to view such commodities as less than notable and I try to find uses for these ingredients, wherever possible.

More than the sum of its parts

Leftover bread has myriad uses. It all depends on how much work you want to put into transforming the stale end of a loaf into something more than the sum of its parts. For example, kids love croutons. It's a bit of work. You have to remove the crusts and cut the bread into cubes, sauté the bread cubes in a skillet with seasonings, then cool and store in Ziploc bags, but these really dress up a salad at the fraction of a cost of store bought croutons. You can just let the cubed bread dry out at room temperature and turn them into stuffing with the help of sautéed veggies and herbs, and some chicken broth and eggs. You can just slice the bread and make French toast, old fashioned bread pudding or cheese strata-a kind of layered casserole. Easiest of all is bread crumbs. You can make fresh or dried bread crumbs (for the latter, dry the bread by leaving it out in the open air). You don't even have to remove the crusts. Just rip the bread into manageable pieces and whirl them in your blender or food processor.

Scratching your head over food safety? 

Other leftovers may leave you scratching your head, wondering about food safety. Do you stand at the open door of your fridge wondering if the chicken you made 4 days ago is still safe to eat? There's no reason to agonize over such decisions. Instead, print out a chart, like the one found here: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~fsg/f01chart.html and affix it to your fridge with a magnet. And it's never wrong to adopt as your motto, the old cliché: When in doubt, throw it out.


What can you do if you have a lot of food left and it's no longer safe for your family? In short, throw it away! Homeless people and animals are not immune to foodborne illnesses; it is not a kindness to offer the weak, poor, or small comestibles that are past their prime.