Leftovers: Ranked

Paul Morrone |

By Thomas Morrone, CFP®, CPA

Many people despise eating leftovers regardless of what the food is. In my younger days, any meal in a restaurant was totally consumed. As I have aged, the portions of food that I now can consume has shrunk considerably. Some of that reduction is by choice via portion control to minimize weight gain. Also, my body has something to say when I eat too much. Either heartburn gets the best of me or I am unable to sleep if I eat too much or eat later in the evening. Regardless, there seems to be more Styrofoam containers in my fridge for leftovers as a result. I attempt to put leftovers into three specific categories.

First, there are foods that when consumed or reheated the next day serve the purpose of providing an additional meal. Secondly, there are certain foods that can taste better the next day. Finally, there are foods that are meant to be eaten when first served and any leftovers should go directly to the trash can. What does all that mean? There are countless examples for each of the three categories, but I will focus on a limited quantity of scenarios to keep it simple. These are of course my opinions regarding leftovers, but I am a bit of a foodie and you may or may not agree with me on these.

First, we have the additional meal category. The food that immediately comes to my mind in this category is pizza. In my lifetime, I have had pizza once or twice. Okay, more than once or twice a slice of pizza has been in my hands. Also, more than once or twice I have eaten leftover pizza. In a world of instant gratification, eating leftover pizza has three options. Cold, never. Reheat in the microwave, I very seldom do this because it gets soggy. Then there is the right way which starts with preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread the slices in a crisscross pattern and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble. That is the way to reheat and eat leftover pizza. It is nice and crispy and as good as when first served. Many leftover foods are fine if reheated in the microwave and fulfill the additional meal category. In many cases, the food container goes from fridge, to microwave, to table, to trash. A very simple and clean process. 

Secondly, we have the category of foods that taste better as leftovers. Here, what comes to my mind is a hearty pasta dish. More specifically, a nice, thick Bolognese or a spicy crab sauce. There is something about the sauce soaking into the pasta as it cools in the fridge that makes the flavor come alive when it is reheated. The microwave works just fine but even here patience is a bit of a virtue. I find that reheating at a lower power with some occasional stirring works best. Zapping pasta on high for a short amount of time gets it hot but I feel there is a compromise with the quality of the taste and consistency. This is very anal but as I said in the onset, I am a bit of foodie.

Then we come to the last category. This is the category of food that should be eaten when served and pertains to whatever is left on your plate when you have consumed all you can. You offer some to your dining companions to be courteous and whatever is left should go right into the trash can. I am referring to fried seafood, especially fried clams. No explanation is required.

When reviewing the three categories above, you may have another category or two in addition to mine. Not only will you possibly have an additional category or two for leftovers but can certainly add to the specific food in each of the three categories. Give it some thought.
Remember, never reheat fried clams unless you need rubber bands!
Until The Next Tom’s Take…

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