5 Ways to Repurpose Leftovers for the School Year
Making delicious and healthy meals for the family is tough enough, and during the busy back to school season, many parents are struggling for time. Not only are you thinking of how to make something the whole family will enjoy, but also looking for unique ways to repurpose yesterday’s leftovers.
Sure, you could always just heat them up and eat ‘em as is, but with picky kiddos, sometimes it feels easier to throw them out and start fresh. But did you know that US households waste 30% of their food? That cost adds up — in fact, 44% of parents in a recent back-to-school survey conducted by OnePoll said they plan to repurpose leftovers to both save money and cut down on waste.
So, instead of tossing out perfectly good leftovers, we’ve broken down how to turn them into creative school lunches (or even entirely new dinners)!
Sandwiches, Wraps, & Stir-Frys
You can make some truly delicious and exciting meals that kids will love out of leftover veggies, meats, and more. For any protein-heavy dinner, whatever leftovers can easily be turned into sandwiches for school lunch the next day. Especially since 39% of parents say that they spend the most money on meat and poultry, repurposing protein is a big money saver. We love this guide for using leftover chicken to give you some ideas! These leftover-built sammies and wraps are the perfect snack to take along in a reusable Stasher Sandwich bag.
Or you can take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to leftovers and heat them up in a stir fry for the next night’s dinner. Simply chop all your veggies and proteins — even the soggy greens — and fry it up with some oil and spices.
Soups, Smoothies, & Shakes
If your leftovers aren’t entirely fresh (we’re looking at you, back-of-the-fridge kale), they can still be “saved” by being repurposed in a soup or shake. In fact, here are some healthy (and easy) smoothie recipes using your Stasher bags. Soups and stocks are easy to make using whatever leftover veggies you have on hand and basically any meat — even hamburger patties!
Plus, with Stasher bags and bowls, you can prep ahead of time and freeze for when you need it. Even when you’re stuck in back-to-school chaos, doing this means you’ll reliably have something in the freezer to cook up or serve as-is.
And not to mention that freezer-friendly meals are a great way to get kiddos to eat their greens! Throw those veggies in a blender with protein powder, peanut butter, or whatever other additions you want. Then, spoon into a few 2-Cup bowls and freeze. Voilà, individually portioned "smoothie packs” are ready to grab and go!
New Seasonings or Sauces
Don’t forget that one of the best ways to switch up the flavor profile of a meal is by swapping the seasonings. If one night you’ve had a roasted chicken with veggies, chop the leftover chicken up with some bell peppers, adobo sauce, and chili powder for some fajitas the next night. With a little prep, you’ve saved a lot of time!
Freezing For Later
We get it — sometimes you’re simply too busy to prep those leftovers for a new meal. That shouldn’t mean you have to throw anything away, though. Instead, freeze whatever leftover veggies, meats, and even fruits you have from a meal and use them later. Thankfully, Stasher bags and bowls can easily go from the freezer to the microwave or oven, making them easy to store leftovers in. And with our Half Gallon, you’ll also save much-needed freezer space.
The best way to get out of that odds-and-ends day of the week with leftovers is to shop with meal prepping in mind. By that, we mean buying ingredients that you plan to use for multiple meals throughout the week — including school lunches — that seamlessly work together. You can do this by having a theme or flavor you want to chase for each week, or by buying what’s in season at your local farmers market. Ask your kids to come up with theme ideas to help them feel involved! We love this guide to help you brainstorm ways to shop by building a menu based on all the same yummy stuff.
Love these ideas? Share them on social and tag @stasherbag to show us how you repurpose your leftovers!