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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
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Make Leftovers Exciting!

Do you ever hear the groans and moans when you say we're having "leftovers" for dinner? What kind of word is "leftover" anyway? It sounds so blah. So used. So "been there done that." Don't get me wrong; I'm all for using up food rather than throwing it out and wasting it. A study by the University of Arizona revealed that a household of four will throw away about $600 of food a year. That's 14% of food purchased! I would certainly gobble up those leftovers to keep my $600 bucks. But do leftovers have to be so boring?

Of course not! Throw "leftovers" out of your vocabulary and make a new and exciting dish with what you have. For example, if you have vegetables and meat such as chicken, turkey or ham remaining from dinner last night, dice them up, put them in a prepared pie crust, mix in a can of fat-free cream of celery soup, and bake it in the oven for an easy "chicken pot pie" the next day.

What about a beef roast with carrots and potatoes? Cut the leftover meat and vegetables in bite-size pieces and make a vegetable beef stew. Or shred the remaining roast and add barbecue sauce for barbecue beef sandwiches.

Call me crazy, but I've never been a fan of leftover spaghetti. It just doesn't taste the same as when it's made fresh. But put it in a casserole dish, sprinkle part-skim mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake it in the oven, and you'll get a delicious pasta bake ready to be devoured.

Leftover meals can be made into new and exciting dishes. Just make sure to keep it safe.  Reheat leftovers to at least 165°F. Eat them up within 3-4 days so they don't have to be tossed in the garbage. Try this tasty barbecue sauce on leftover roast. It's so easy to make and everyone will be impressed that you made it from scratch rather than using a commercially bottled sauce.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Sandwiches (makes 8 sandwiches) (Printable PDF)

2 pound pork or beef roast

1 cup water

1 cup ketchup

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons instant minced onion

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

8 hamburger buns or sandwich rolls

  1. Place the roast in the slow cooker. Add water and cover with lid; cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Remove the roast and shred the meat using two forks.
  3. Remove any liquid in the slow cooker. Return shredded meat to slow cooker.
  4. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, onion, garlic powder, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in saucepan; mix well. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until thoroughly heated.
  5. Pour over shredded meat. Cook on high for one hour or until meat is heated thoroughly. Serve on buns or rolls.

Recipe can be found in 4-H Cooking 301

Nutritional analysis per sandwich: 312 Calories, 6 grams fat, 625 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 30 grams protein

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