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Mornings are a rush, after school is a mad dash and bedtime is a marathon – daily life for busy parents is tough! We struggle to fit in all of the ‘have to do’ items, much less squeeze in some ‘nice to do’ ones. That leaves little time for relaxing, breathing or just spending quality time. This is why leftovers are a busy mom’s best friend – they’re easy, offer variety, avoid waste & really save on much-needed time!
In our family, the kids can pretty much expect that we have leftovers 2-3 nights a week. We usually arrange it to be during our busiest nights (usually dance days, since class goes from right after school until late) to be the most helpful. It’s written right into our weekly menu, so there’s no surprises – because we all know how kids can have a meltdown over one simple plan change! When we first started this years ago, I was against it and tried to stick to the ‘new meal every single night’ method – and it sucked. Luckily I learned to appreciate leftovers for our busy family, because it’s sure saved my sanity on numerous occasions!
Here’s some reasons leftovers can be a busy mom’s best friend
Cook Once, Eat Twice: cooking takes time – the meal prep, baking time, etc. If you make bigger batches, then you’re only spending that time once but getting maybe two meals out of it. It’s especially nice if you like more complex or time-consuming meals, because it averages out nicely when you spread it for more than just one dinner.
Less Waste: I know us parents hate it when food gets wasted because our kids don’t finish their plates, but what about the waste of leftovers if you don’t use it later? It may just sit in the fridge with good intentions, but then it goes bad and into the garbage before being enjoyed again. By planning for leftovers, it gives you a very real, specific time for you to pull those out and get the finished.
Quicker Meals on Busy Nights: Whether you’re like us and have some late nights because of the kids’ activities, or just have so many errands and such to do, not having to spend a ton of time preparing a whole new meal is a big relief. When we’re on our way home from dance class and I’m just thinking how tired I am, and how ready to go to sleep the kids are, it’s nice knowing that hubby’s just warming up some leftovers and we can all just sit, eat and get ready for bed.
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More Variety: I have some super picky eaters in my family, and it seems they’re all picky about different things – which makes for a big headache trying to whip up a meal that everyone will enjoy! On leftover nights it’s nice because we can heat up the remains of two or three different meals, meaning a wider range of things the kids can choose from. Those that liked that sticky finger casserole from the other night can have more of that, while the kids that preferred the mango chicken tacos can pick that. Hubby wants more of the spicy noodle soup? No problem!
Easy Meals to Take-Along: Not having to make something new for packing in your work lunch is really nice, especially if your morning prep is already rushed. I work from home, and since I have to squeeze in tons of work into just the school hours, it’s great to just pull something out of the fridge and heat it up really quick for my lunch. If it was something that took longer, I may make the excuse that I don’t have time and not eat – which I know isn’t healthy for me.
There’s so many ways leftovers can be a huge help for busy families – I know it’s been wonderful to plan on that regularly in my own household! Plus, I don’t have to decide on SEVEN different dinners each week. Instead, it’s just four or five plus two to three nights of leftovers – yay for more time and hassle saved!
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