Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leftovers into Lunches

The other night I made Fancy Mac and Cheese from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook for dinner. It was gooey and cheesy and pure deliciousness. And rich, oh was it rich! Rich like...oh nevermind, I'm not clever enough to finish that sentence. I tried to healthy it up a little = turkey bacon, whole wheat macaroni, and less butter. Plus I altered the roux a little, didn't add the eggs, and didn't bake it (just mixed it all together in the sauce).

It made a HUGE amount of mac and cheese. I scaled the recipe back (by about a third) and we still could be eating on it for a week straight.

Fact #1: Around here, we aren't great about eating leftovers (one of the big challenges as a new wife is learning to cook for just the two of us or maybe enough to have leftovers for one day). After our Fancy Mac dinner, we were left with a big ole' bowl of leftovers. I hate hate hate throwing food out, so I always try to eat whatever we have left in our fridge. Which leads to Fact #2: I don't like eating the same thing for lunch every day of any given week. It's boring. Boring like a wanna-be cool kids party. (Look at me with the similes today)

Enter: Ziploc divided lunch containers.

I knew what was going in the big compartment - clearly the Fancy Mac, but that left me two more compartments to fill. I decided on roasted mini carrots and cinnamon apples, both things I knew would reheat fairly well and would be delicious warm. But you could easily do any roasted veggies and pretty much any sort of baked fruit, fruit cobbler, fruit crisp. I was thinking simple and as unprocessed as possible.

To roast veggies, simply lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan of some sort, drizzle some olive oil, throw on salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven. The carrots took about 25 minutes. For my cinnamon apples, I simply sliced up 3 apples, put them in a baking dish, put cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg on them and baked them in the same oven as the carrots. The apples took about the same amount of time, but mine came out a little mushy (think closer to applesauce than baked apples). I was totally fine with this and of course they still taste great! You could follow the recipe for the filling from my Apple Crisp recipe as well. Seriously, so much freedom!

After letting everything bake and come to room temperature, I set up a little assembly line and filled my lunch trays. Carrots in one compartment, apples in another, and Fancy Mac in the big compartment. Now I'll have convenient freezer meals I can grab on my way out the door and I'll know exactly what's in them! There are definitely mornings that I need something that quick, but I hate buying frozen meals with all the sodium and preservatives I know are in them. And, I won't have to eat the same thing for lunch every day of the week! Double win!

Since I didn't mention this anywhere else, I got six lunches out of my leftovers. The original recipe serves 12, since I scaled back ours by a third, we should've had 8 servings out of ours. We each ate a bowl Sunday night, and I got six lunches = 8 servings! Right on the money!

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