Let’s talk about one of my favorite things: food! (Also on that favorite things list is books, wine, and book clubs. It appears that everything on my favorite things list can be found at a book club. Fancy that.)

One of the ways I have managed to save my sanity at least once a week is by strategic use of leftovers. Seriously, some grilled chicken and a pot of rice are the best. things. ever. I know, I know, most people have a house full of people who “hate leftovers” so, in my wisdom I started becoming quite the sneaky snake. I disguised my leftovers as A NEW DISH.

First, chicken. Who doesn’t love that bird? I started saving major money when I began slicing the boobs into 3 pieces. The  FDA recommends that a serving size of chicken be the size of a deck of cards, but the average size of a grocery-store-procured breast is at least 3 times that (especially when you account for thickness). I  began slicing before cooking and adding more veggies to the table. Now we get more mileage out of a package of meat.

I have JJ put the entire package on the grill at once, even though it’s enough for 2 meals. As soon as it comes in, I sneak a few away and put them in the fridge before they even arrive on the table.

The next day, I take those few breasts, slice them, and add a bit of BBQ sauce as I warm it in the oven. While it’s warming, I chop a nice salad of romaine, cabbage, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, sometimes a few black beans and corn. I heap the salad on the plates, top with warm BBQ chicken and crunch a few tortilla chips on top. Slather that stuff in ranch and you have your kids eating salad as the entree. Reward yourself aptly with a glass of wine. I served this dish to my neighbor boy who “doesn’t really like salad” and he had 3 bowls.

The other big leftovers-not-leftovers dish of our home is Chicken Fried Rice. My household eats pinto beans & rice (with chips, salsa, and on a good day, guac) for lunch at least once a week, so when we do I make at least 1-2 cups extra rice. This double-wins because fried rice made from fresh rice tends to get smushy. (That’s a technical kitchen term). Leftover rice holds its shape and fries nicely.

On day 2, I use a bit of oil (with a dash of sesame oil if you keep it handy) to saute an onion,  a few cloves garlic (minced), 2-3 chopped carrots,  and a couple stalks celery. When soft, I shove those aside and fry an egg (it’s helpful to add more oil). After the egg is scrambled into the mix (and cooked appropriately), I add in the cold rice and a good handful of frozen peas. Drizzle a few tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce) on that and toss in a small can of cooked chicken. (If you’re on top of your game, use another bit of the leftover grilled chicken. But the canned shredded chicken gives it a feel like the Chinese restaurants.) You’re just waiting until the rice and chicken and peas are warm before you put it in the bowls for dinner. Seriously, the entire dinner takes maybe 20 minutes and mostly involves chopping. Easy-peasy.

So, good readers, I’m begging you: how do you transform leftovers into a new meal? Don’t horde the wisdom! (Make sure you put it in the bloggy comments, not on Facebook – a few fine friends don’t ever see it posted over there and they’ll miss the secrets).

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