My husband does not really care for leftovers. He will eat them 1 night per week, but not the same thing for dinner a few nights in a row. So when he is home, I usually prepare a different meal 5 or 6 nights of the week.
But when he’s gone, it’s a whole different story. No way do I have the time and energy to cook that often! Plus, I find that when it is just the kids and I, we have a lot of extra leftovers. So we can usually eat the same meal 2 nights in a row. Maybe 3, if I cooked the whole box of pasta. Which sometimes happens. Just sayin… So serving leftovers cuts my meal prep time in half.
And to be honest, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If I am preparing healthy, nutritious meals, who cares if we eat the same thing a few nights in a row? Knowing that all I have to do is re-heat yesterday’s dinner can save me from falling into habits of frozen pizza, chinese delivery, or ice cream for dinner. Which I think we can all agree are not really ideal for an entire deployment.
When is the best time to serve leftovers? Anytime! Haha, just kidding. Here are some scenarios where having food to re-heat has really saved my evening:
- sports practice days. Because cooking and serving a hot meal doesn’t usually work with practice times.
- anytime you will get home late, whether from work or volunteering, or a meeting. Leftovers are ready in just minutes.
- when you want to take the kids to a park or playground. It’s much more relaxing to spend time with them when you know that dinner is already in the fridge.
- when someone needs extra help with homework. Because my kids have spelling and math tests on Fridays, Thursday is a busy homework day. Sounds like a great day NOT to cook.
The way I see it, there are only two reasons NOT to serve leftovers: #1 Your family really disliked the meal the first time. In this case, it is probably best to re-use it in another dish, or add something to change the meal. Sometimes just serving something on rice instead of noodles, or adding cheese on top is enough change to help my kids get through one more meal. Reason #2 You feel guilty like you are being too lazy and cheating somehow. In that case, listen closely. I hereby give you permission to serve your kids leftovers without feeling guilty! If it’s good, nutritious food, then feeding it to them is certainly better than throwing it away. Or feeding them nothing. Or feeding them only ice cream. See, deployment mom? You’re doing a good job. There are always worse choices! Keep doing your best. If you can only prepare dinner a few nights a week, then just make sure there is enough for 2 meals. Then there will always be back-up food in the fridge, and it will save you a lot of time and worry (not to mention phone calls to the pizza delivery place!)