You spend a lot of time on food prep, it seems like, to make sure everything is nutritious and fits what your kids will eat, and then sometimes they don’t it anyway, am I right?. So what do you do with leftovers? It doesn’t seem like you eat them all yourself, since it seems like you “watch your figure,” but I imagine it is extra-hard to throw away food you worked so hard on. So what is the solution?
I’ve never been the watch-my-figure type, if there is such a type. I try to eat healthy – and in this I am fortunate, as I actually like vegetables. Also ice cream. And peanut butter. I also exercise regularly, as much for my mental health as my physical health. I eat a huge amount of food, and again, I am fortunate, because I burn it off pretty quickly. But I’ve never in my life been “on a diet,” making me perhaps the only American over 15 who can say that.
What do I do with leftovers? Most nights, I make foods that I think at least one of my children will eat. I also try to give food makeovers. If we’ve got bread sticks that are going stale, I slice them into little disks and bake them till they’re hard. We call them – with a breathtaking display of originality – “crunchy things.” They’re perfect with hummus for snacks at school, giving Benjamin his hard chewing work.
I plan a lot. What needs to be used up when. Don’t bake something new when we haven’t finished the old stuff. That kind of thing.
I like to challenge the palates now and again, and everything isn’t a hit. Last night, I made an orzo, beet green, chickpea, and cheese baked casserole. Lilah loved it, and Zach wouldn’t try it I can’t say that was a big surprise. Benjamin tried the orzo thingading and ate a portion but really wasn’t into it. Since the lentils in the fridge were about to go bad: that’s fine, you can have those instead. Lilah, who seems determined to outgrow her clothes as quickly as we can get them out of the hand-me-down bins, ate the lentils along with the chickpeas.
Since I’m decidedly not picky, I eat what I know no one else will. As people picked the beet greens out, I took them. More veggies for me. There was more than a half a pan left after dinner, but here’s the rub. I work from home. I can have it for lunch every day for a week. Whatever the kids eat, I save for them (bean quesadillas for breakfast tomorrow!). Whatever they won’t eat becomes lunch. About once a week, we have a leftover dinner, and the same principle applies. My husband holds off on what he’ll have until we see what the kids like, but again, he’s pickier than I am, so I’ll leave him what I know he’ll prefer.
We still waste some – always more than I’d like – but I never feel like I slaved over something and it’s all getting thrown away. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a large container of pureed squash sitting in my fridge that no one else seems to want.