The joy of deliberate leftovers

Cooking a bit extra over the festive season to create leftovers can save you a fair amount of hassle, time, money and fuel – so I like to do this wherever I can. You get all of the savings of bulk preparation, with a few Christmassy extras, as long as it’s within your budget. Peeling an extra couple of spuds or prepping a few more brussels sprouts is hardly a problem if you’re already in the middle of those tasks.

For example, our oven never goes on throughout the whole of Boxing Day any more. We prefer to do cold cuts, salads and a low key buffet instead, after all the prepping and schlepping of the day before, and it’s very relaxing. The highlight of Beau’s day is always a turkey sandwich, complete with cranberry sauce, sliced stuffing and plenty of lettuce, and I think that’s the default option for many other people too.

mixed vegetable soup Christmas leftovers blended with stock

I prefer a leftover veggie soup the following day, or maybe a plate of bubble and squeak, depending on the weather and what else we’re getting up to on our day off. Leftovers soup is such an easy thing to make on the hob, and you can chuck just about anything into to too: leftover meat, potatoes, veg, gravy, even bread sauce can all be used if you like – plus you won’t need to add too much else to the mix apart from maybe some stock, herbs or seasoning.

Another option is adding things into a curry or stir-fry, again something you can make on a stovetop without too much fuss. I know quite a few folks like to make a turkey and ham pie at this point too, but that does involve a long time to bake it and I’m not sure that’s going to be too popular this year.

Leftover cheese is probably the thing I love the most though. It goes in sandwiches, toasties, soups, veggie bakes, melted on top of mashed potato or burgers, with pasta or just on its own with crackers. This year I’m turning some leftover blue cheese into a dip with mascarpone and walnuts with this recipe, and it’s going to be just right for having with vegetable sticks on a quiet evening in front of the telly.

There’s nearly always a recipe out there online somewhere for whatever leftovers ingredients you might have to use up, in case you’re lacking inspiration. The only thing to watch out for is recipes where you have to buy loads of other new stuff to make it work. For example, I won’t be buying golden syrup, a large 70% cocoa choc bar and a packet of marshmallows to make a ‘festive rocky road’ over one stale leftover mince pie. Yes, I have honestly seen someone recommend that recently, but it’s probably better to save your pennies and also avoid ruining a perfectly good batch of rocky road.

Do you have any household favourite recipes for leftovers? Are there some you plan for every year?

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