Leftover Night

Dawn Davenport


Leftover Night is a great way to clean out the fridge.

Leftover Night is a great way to clean out the fridge.

Cue the music.  “Tooniight, tooniight, is not just aanny night, tonight is….” LEFTOVER night.  Yay!  Tonight, I don’t cook, and the fridge gets cleaned out. The perfect two for one deal, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for a twofer.

I was walking with a few friends after we dropped our kids off at school and shared my excitement that tonight at my house was leftover night.  One, wrinkling her nose with disgust, said she hated leftovers; the other said she never had food leftover.  I was dumbfounded by both.  If you liked it the first time around, why wouldn’t you like it the second time around.  Lots of casseroles and soups are even better the second day.  Now if you’re moving onto the third or fourth day, then I get it.  I’d be sick of it too.  But the second time in a week is fine by me.

As to my other friend that didn’t have a refrigerator full of leftovers, I don’t know whether I was more surprised by her ability to guesstimate serving amounts exactly or by the fact that she didn’t actually aim to have leftovers.  I may be a lousy serving size guesser, but usually I plan to cook enough for two meals.  I’m also a sucker for efficiency.

Now, truth be told, my affection for leftover night is not universally shared in my household.  My hubby either is neutral about leftovers or has the wisdom to keep his mouth shut.  Not so for all of my children.  Leftover night is often greeted by “Oh, great.”  Notice the lack of an exclamation point.  (How do you capture sarcasm in print?)  So, a couple of years ago I decided that leftover night needed a marketing makeover.  My first stab was to change its name.  Who could resist “Choose your own dinner night” or “Favorite Night”?    The catch was that all choosing and favorites had to come from inside the plastic containers in the fridge.

When that new name approach stopped working, I moved on to the repackaging approach.  Mix the various leftovers (veggies, chicken, beans) with pasta, top with cheese, and bake.  My family will eat most anything smothered in cheese.  I’ve also created some interesting soups this way.  Most of the time, I get away with this, but periodically one of the kids will notice that they’ve seen that squash or cauliflower before in another incarnation, and rat me out.

I’m not sure what I like about leftover night the best.  Yes, my inherently lazy nature certainly appreciates a night off from cooking, but I also love the efficiency and thriftiness of it as well.  There is something very satisfying to me about living with what we have and using up everything with little waste.  I enjoy the challenge of cooking with what is available locally or seasonally, and then using every last bit of it.  Oh, don’t get me wrong; we certainly have our share of plastic containers with fur covered substances that used to be Thai curry or bean soup, but I like the challenge of trying to avoid reaching that science experiment looking stage.

Hey that gives me an idea.  I’ll jump on the latest marketing trend and call tonight “Green Night”.  No, that is definitely not an appetizing name.  How about “Love the Earth Night”.  We’re going to be ecologically friendly and politically correct—and my fridge gets cleaned out.  Hey, I’m really a sucker for a three-fer?

Anyone else have tips for using up leftovers?


Image credit: Alice Harold

12/01/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 10 Comments

10 Responses to Leftover Night

  1. Avatar Christina says:

    Great idea! I’m kind of like you’re family though…never get too excited over leftovers. But I’ll take the “green” approach next time and it will probably make my earth-loving self feel better.


  2. Avatar alicia says:

    i love all the different names people have for leftover night. in our house, we call it “Hoover-ing Night” — as in, vacuum hoover. thats the night we put out all the leftovers and do buffet style. . .

  3. Avatar KLTTX says:

    Tuesdays are leftover night at our house too. I usually cook a big meal on Sunday and we eat it again on Tuesday. My son usually complains but eats it anyway.

  4. Avatar tam says:

    we call it corn(clean out the refrigerator night) or FFY(sounds like foofy) which means fend for yourself! I get the same “oh great.” about leftover from my kids too. they would rather have a penaut butter sandwhich which would still leave the leftovers in the fridge! so no peanut butters allowed that night!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Yep, I have one who has tried to argue that since the jar of PB is open and the bag of bread is open that PB sandwich should qualify as a leftover. I told him to save his argument for future law school. It had to come out of the fridge to qualify as a leftover. I am absolutely going to use CORN. I’m a sucker for acronyms too.

  5. HEY! I just noticed that I made the sidebar of your site. Wow. I feel honored. And a little nervous now too ;P Hee heee!

  6. We call it Leftover Smorgasbord here. I could not survive without it. It’s thrifty, it’s time-efficient, and it’s free-ing! I try to schedule it for a night that I’ve been super busy, either out running errands, etc. or when I have had company for breakfast or lunch. Then I don’t have to feel as if I’ve been in the kitchen prepping and cooking all day. It used to only be on Monday’s as I tend to cook more creatively on the weekends. But moving it around keeps them all guessing now 🙂

    And the big catch to Leftover Smorgasbord Night? The first one to come when called and sit (PLEASANTLY!) at the table waiting gets their first pick of entrees. Sure motivates those teens and tweens who move at THEIR own pace instead of mine 🙂

    And I have to say, I had a hubby who went through a season of despising leftovers, in any way shape or form. It was awful and almost became a deal-breaker in our marital bliss. Almost. He came around eventually. I can be very persuasive when I choose to 🙂

  7. Avatar Geri Weaver says:

    We never call it “Leftover Night” at our house. I’ve taken the name from my own foster mom, and we call it “Mustgo Night” – it sounds rather exotic, doesn’t it? My children normally forget from one week to the next (if the leftovers last that long) what exactly “Mustgo” means, and they’re normally excited for new food. “Mustgo”? Food in the fridge that MUST-GO! But, as we don’t eat sandwiches for lunch because of gluten allergies, we normally tend to eat up the leftovers through the week. We do end up with some that need to get out of the fridge before they end up as science experiements. Feel free to have your own “Mustgo Night”!!

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      I too eat leftovers for lunch most days, but we still have plenty left for the rest of the family. I’m thinking it sounds more exotic if you put the emphasis on the first syllable.” I’ll give it a try tonight.

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