I was cleaning out the refrigerator yesterday and had to throw out several containers of leftovers because they had spoiled. While doing that task, I was on the telephone talking with a friend. Her solution for storing leftovers is one I am beginning today. She stores all leftovers in plastic storage bags. I bought the inexpensive ziplock store brands this morning, two different sizes. I have one drawer designated for leftovers.
My family are not too fond of leftovers, so I bought some containers with separations and make up homemade tv dinners for my mom. She gets a full meal that she would not make as a one person home, I am able to subsidize her social security by providing a good portion of her meals. If I cook something I know is one of her particular favorites, I will make extra just to make up several meals to freeze. I do this also for my teenager. She then just takes out what she wants and defrosts one when she is home for lunch, or on fridays before football games.
Freezing leftovers is also good for using in soups and stews later on. I just put them into a plastic baggie and when I want to make soup or stew, I grab the baggies to start.
With the larger quantity of leftovers our family generates, it would be more wasteful for us to use plastic storage bags vs containers. We use the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs containers. We prefer them to the Ziploc or Gladware as they're heavier flexible plastic, even withstanding kids' lunchboxes without cracking or denting, we feel the lids are better for that also. They're durable, can go in the dishwasher, freezer & microwave & are clear to allow viewing of the contents. Be sure to label w/ the date even if you think you can remember. Some might suggest preparing meals w/ better portion control, only the amount that will be eaten at that meal. Often we choose to prepare extra as the leftovers are for lunches, snacks or meals for someone on the go, it doesn't waste. Sometimes we can have one "leftovers" meal per week, where not everyone eats the same foods We do very little take-out for reasons of economics & healthfulness of the food. Because the containers must be washed and probably take more room in the refrigerator unless full, some might prefer the plastic bags for ease of use. We prefer to view it from the long term economic & environmental standpoint.
I also cook "intentional" leftovers to stash in the freezer. Then, on the evenings that we have events that don't leave time for cooking, I can retrieve my leftovers and have a meal on the table in about 10 minutes. I also cook rice in large quantities, and put it in the freezer in meal size amounts. I used to use ziploc bags a lot for this, but have switched over to the plastic storage containers available at the dollar store. They are easier to store and find in my freezer. I just stick a piece of freezer tape on top and label with contents and date. I remove them to glass dishes to reheat in the microwave, since I find that sometimes, the lids won't snap on after microwaving even though they say Microwave Safe. Another plus with the dollar store containers is that the lids and containers nest together for storing to save space. I also put some leftovers in the fridge packaged in the same way, and by using the square containers, I can stack them on the shelves to save space. My husband can't find anything in the fridge unless it is in the front. This makes it easier to have more things in front of his face. LOL!
Harlean from Arkansas
Aren't mom's/women clever? If we practice, we can TRICK our family into eating perfectly GOOD leftovers! I have always done this and I don't believe any ever caught on, thinking they "don't eat leftovers!" Maybe I'll tell them one day? lol
A tip I use for freezing in labeled generic "ziplock" bags(with a written comment on label,and/or suggestion as to flavor: "YUM!", "good", "o.k./seasoned/unseasoned") is to make a plate sized space in freezer, add two paper plates(If I have/can afford them) first, then flatten one baggie full of leftovers between two more, until all flat and frozen, removing all plates that are often still useable within a couple of hours, and store all bagsful of frozen foods neatly in a flat STACK! Helps me with storage in a smaller freezer, AND it freezes both quicker and more evenly.
You can wash freezer bags, as long as they didn't have anything greasy, red, or meat-based in them. (Like it's easy to wash out a bag after it's only held muffins.) This might save on the expense of using them, although we like the take-alongs containers better, too.
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