Monday, January 5, 2009

The Luscious Leftover Buffet

We usually enjoy 'The Luscious Leftover Buffet' on Monday nights. It's quick and easy before Dreamer's ballet class, and it really helps to clean out our fridge in preparation for the groceries that the Storyteller and I usually pick up while we are in town during ballet.

Here's some tips for 'selling' your leftovers in a simple but effective way. Whatever your family calls it, you will enjoy the fun of making something everyone seems to dread into an enjoyable family tradition.

  1. Spread it out! If you have an empty counter, clean it off and spread out the offerings, like a buffet. Everyone likes to make choices, and buffets are super popular with kids.
  2. Divide it up! A single small mug of chili, soup or baked beans is fun to pick up and that way everyone who wants a taste can get one. No one needs to see that messy casserole dish, so dish it up in paper cupcake cups or little custard cups and make it something special.
  3. Swap the cheese! Sometimes the cheese on the top of a casserole gets overbrowned in the process of reheating. I don't feel badly in scraping off a bit of the ugly cheese and putting on fresh. Fresh cheese also dresses up a cup of chili, reheated quiche, a bit of salad or a creamy soup. The same thing goes for leftover pizza - a fresh layer really does something good for reheated pizza.
  4. Keep it simple! While it is great to use leftover turkey in turkey a la king or beef in stroganoff, those leftover meats are just as delicious when served simply. Cold roast beef, turkey, chicken, bratwurst or ham can be served sliced 'as is' or in a sandwich, on top of a cracker or diced into some leftover salad.
  5. Put it on a stick! 6" bamboo skewers are pretty cheap, and they make a great 'finger food' supper when you put your leftover meats and cheeses or fruit cubes on a 'stick'.
  6. Cut it fancy! It doesn't take any extra effort to pull out your crinkle cutter then your paring knife, so why not cut up those fruits and veggies a bit fancy and see if they don't liven up your buffet?
  7. Use those tongs! I don't know why our kids think this is the 'best part', but we use cheap salad tongs for picking up things like sliced meats, breads, veggies and scrambled eggs. It might cause a bit more washing up, but I tell you, our kids are totally skilled when we are out for a treat at a real restaurant buffet!
  8. Make it a privilege! We are so blessed to have an abundance of food in this country - wasting is just not a choice. Making being a part of the buffet line a privilege that can be lost through grumbling or complaining can seriously brighten the attitude of those picky eaters who are not so keen on the whole idea.
  9. Set it to music! My husband started the 'music to match the meal' thing for our family when he took over the making of Mama Joy's Meatballs and serving them up with fresh green salad, a fresh loaf of crusty bread, and Dean Martin singing in the background. It made a simple supper more fun for all of us. I decided that we should do the same thing for 'The L.L. Buffet' and so I let the kids pick - they chose Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey 'Eugene Sings' and it seems to be a perfect fit!

I hope these simple tips will help you use up those leftovers in a fun and creative way that will bless your family and your budget!

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  1. Great advice - thanks for sharing. And your buffet looked yummy.

    I liked your comment about all the food that we are blessed w/in America. A few years ago my dh & I were watching some news show (20/20 or something like that) and they were talking about how some Christian people here BOUGHT 4 Christian teen boys out of slavery in the Sudan and brought them here. They were sponsered and trained in life skills by people in their church. I will NEVER forget their reactions when 1) they walked into their first large grocery store and 2) when they were being taught how to used/flush a toile and use the faucets in the kitchen and bath!! But the most touching was when they went to the grocery - they cried, they sobbed - they had NEVER seen so much abundance in their lives. That local grocery was something they had only heard about, had only dreamt about and now they were IN one. It was really touching.

    Blessings, Kim<><

  2. Kim - when I moved from Canada to the U.S. 17 years ago, I was astounded by the huge selection of foods in the grocery stores - but now Canadian stores have followed their American neighbors and 'super' stores have grown in popularity there too. I was totally overwhelmed by the selection in every isle - and I still am! I prefer a smaller store - less thinking, less walking and best of all - less temptation!

  3. Yummy buffet Heather.
    Wish we were with you . . and we will be soon.


  4. I think it's your presentation that makes the meal!

    Thanks for the helpful ideas, especially about serving small cup portions. I'm linking!

  5. Thanks for your great ideas! I think your buffet goes over much better than my practice of just setting out the plastic containers. I can't wait to try some of your tips next time!

  6. I love this idea. I'm totally using it. Thanks!

  7. I am going to try to plan this for once in a while at our house too.


  8. Great suggestions. Love your ideas about re-serving that makes it new again...cupcake liners, tongs, etc. I can't wait to try a buffet in our home.

  9. Thanks for this loving post! Truly how blessed a dinner of herbs where love is!
    We call this our "bits and pieces" night, and growing up, my seven kids thought this was the best night of the week!

  10. Nice blog! I found it from another link, and I wanted to share that reading it made me feel calm. It's not that I'm stressed about feeding my family or getting through leftovers, but it made me feel peaceful to think about another household doing more with less and enjoying what they have.

    I sometimes serve small bites in espresso or cappuccino cups (the small ones not the big bowl sized ones) with the tiny spoons. That is fun for all, too!

  11. I always enjoy looking at your beautiful blog and being inspired through your faith and home. Keep those beautiful blogs coming! Jodi at Stop by and say hi!

  12. I love the idea. I followed your comment from Balancing Bedlam and Beauty. I think I may try something like this on a Thursday or Friday night when we typically don't have anything planned. With 5 kids, scheduling a buffet on a busy night out makes for more stress.

    I also like the idea of theme music. We'll have a lot of fun with that tip, too.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I so enjoy reading your comments when you kindly share your thoughts!