The holidays often mean an abundance of food. While this can mean lots of leftovers and a well-deserved reprieve from cooking, leftovers can quickly become monotonous and unappetizing. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. With a little patience and innovation, leftovers can become an exciting new meal. Before you resort to throwing out holiday leftovers (or let them sit in your fridge or freezer indefinitely) try these hacks.
First of all, don’t toss your food in the microwave to reheat it. The microwave is convenient, but it makes it difficult to heat food evenly. Often, you end up with mushy vegetables and tough meat that lack flavor. Instead, opt to reheat in the oven or on the stovetop. Just add a splash of liquid—like broth, water, or even olive oil—to keep the dish from drying out. (This is also the best way to loosen up thick sauces, soups, or stews.)
Have lots of meat and vegetables? You’re in luck! You can turn all of these into a new meal simply by tossing everything in a casserole dish and baking it until heated through. If you want to get creative and introduce some new flavors, you can do that too. For example, have some chicken, broccoli, and rice? Toss it all into a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs, and bake until toasty. You can also dollop on sauce, to tie the whole thing together. A simple white sauce made from condensed soup or a creamy, cheesy sauce adds new flavors while also keeping your food moist.
Don’t be afraid to repurpose saucy items like pasta or spaghetti into a casserole either! Any pasta with red sauce can be made into a “pizza party” casserole if you add mozzarella, pepperoni, or other pizza-esque toppings. Other additions, like fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon, can revive the flavors in your dish. These aren’t complicated additions, but you’ll certainly notice them in the final product. (And to that end, tossing in some frozen vegetables is a great way to get vitamins and fiber after some heavy meals.)
If you’re casseroled-out, don’t worry—there are other options. Pretty much any meat can be turned into a soup or elevated into a shepherd’s or chicken pot pie, though these options require a little extra cooking and know-how. Whatever you decide, the fridge is your oyster!