Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archives for Leftovers for Lunch

[ Currently Eating: Rice Balls ]

Fried Rice Madness - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Happy Th’Day.

As in th’day that we all ingest dumptrucks full of food.

I’m not going berate people for overlooking the “true spirit of Thanksgiving”. I know this is just the way it works. I’d be more of a hypocrite than usual if I said that for this Th’Day post, instead of pteranodonic turkeys and gigantic bowls of mash-po, I’m going to go with simple Leftovers for Lunch.

Well, I’m going to do it anyway. That’s how I roll, and idealistic droning.

Long time readers (the eleven of you) may remember that I’ve posted about fried rice many, many times previously. It’s just difficult to get away from because it’s a great money and time saver for lunch.

To me, Leftovers for Lunch represents one thing we should be thankful for as far as food goes. That is, there is actually leftover food to eat. Most people waste a ton of food every year. I’m as guilty as the next person of that. I’m probably even worse, because I buy a lot of junk food at the dollar store just to review it, and I end up chucking half of it.

I’m not really the type of person who goes down and volunteers at the soup kitchen. That’s just not me. But I guess I’ll try not to waste food and to re-incorporate leftovers into meals whenever possible.

How noble.

Anyhow, this Th’Day Fried Rice is actually made up of two different types of leftover rice. The first is leftover portion of Spanish Rice from a dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The second is a leftover portion of rice from a takeout lunch of Beef Stroganoff (I know, weird, it comes w/ rice instead of noodles). I cut up the beef into pieces, cut off some of the corn on the cob that came with the Spanish Rice, added leftover onions and bell pepper pieces and fried up the whole thing with an egg scrambled into it.

I know, I know – tomorrow I’m going to go eat turkey, stuffing, ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie until I burst just like everyone else. It’s hypocritical, stupid, lame and a downer to post about eating leftovers before the big meal in order to make other people feel guilty.

But hey guvnor, I’m just a right bastard.

[Editor's Note: Actually, if you would like to feel even guiltier this Th'Day, you might investigate what Thanksgiving represents to many Native Americans groups.]

[ Currently Eating: Sleep ]

Shrimp Circle of Pasta - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Oh Hell. I mean, Hell-o.

This is the part of the story where the embattled, sick editor of Cheap Eats begs off posting for another week by uploading an old, overexposed picture of a wagon wheel circle of grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta.

The thing is, things never work that way. For example, if I type or think the word “thing” or “thingy” or “think” multiple times, after awhile things start to look very strange. And I start to over-think things. Simple “leftovers” posts become convoluted things. Things are like that on this blog since we think about cheap eating things quite a bit.

[Editor's Aside: I must be thinking (or tink'ing) of our earlier "Tings" review]

Regardless, I’ll try. Begin: This is an old, overexposed picture of a wagon wheel circle of grilled shrimp on a bed of pasta. If you ignore the bad quality of the picture, you will start to notice the greatly pleasing symmetry of the shrimp with tails all facing the same way. Neat, even though it reminds me uncomfortably of Las Vegas buffets.

I’m sure you’ve already noted that this is neither leftovers (it was a main dish for dinner) nor is it cheap (well, it’s cheaper than buying a dish like this at Olive Garden, I guess). That fact has been noted and recorded summarily in the Cheap Eats back issue files, so that I won’t make the same mistake again.

But let me get back to the synchronized shrimp. This is actually a great tip for leftovers, even though this dish itself isn’t a leftover. About 76% (more or less) of the time, dressing up your leftovers a bit will make them taste better. I want to say that it’ll ALWAYS make them taste better, but I don’t want to get emails from irate readers dumping gold paint on their leftover tuna casserole.

It’s happened before.

But yes, it’s all about tricking your brain into thinking that you’re eating something more delicious than last night’s beef stroganoff. It really does work.

But now, I think I will head back to bed to rest my head. And dream of synchronized shrimp swimming in vats of garlic butter.

[Editor's Note: I think that thinking things think about things that think thoughts of thinking things.]

[ Currently Eating: Coffee ]

Leftover Stuffed Zucchini - Cheap Eats

I’m actually in the midst of getting ready for a camping trip, so here’s a Leftovers For Lunch post. The other day I was trying to figure out what to do with some zucchini that was just on the verge of getting too soft. In the past, we’d made soup out of it, but I decided to try out some stuffed zucchini since I’d never done that. We lightly boiled the zucchini, scooped out the innards, mixed that with ground turkey for the filling and bread crumbs for the filling, and just baked them in the oven.

It turned out all right, but they were a little bit on the dense and heavy side. I was curious if anyone makes stuffed zucchinis regularly. I know that most recipes call for sausage and probably lots of cheese. We can’t use a whole lot of cheese due to lactose issues in the house. I did use some egg as binder, but I felt that the filling tended to fall out when bitten because of the lack of cheese to help stick everything together.

[ Currently Eating: Bagel Sandwich Thingy ]

Tuna Casserole Leftovers - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

(View larger photo on Flickr)

Nothing gladdens my heart more at lunch time than a large expanse of tuna casserole landscape.

Because of that, and because I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to get in the usual Tuesday Cheap Eats time-draining post, here is a picture of that Leftover Lunch landscape. I know that not everyone enjoys a good tuna casserole (as far as I can tell, it’s standing at about 50% of folks who can eat this), but this is a regular fixture at Cheap Eats.

I’ve been known to do a cold Tuna Noodle special for leftover lunch the next day from time to time, but I usually microwave it back to normal. (One of the benefits of not microwaving is that it doesn’t make the microwave and/or house smell as much.) We always make a larger pan than normal because it’s almost always good for lunch and a few snacks in the next couple of days.

You can use a can of Campbell’s Cream of Whatever Soup as the base for this casserole. I guess I should write down a recipe, but it’s difficult to get it under $3, and plus I haven’t been using a recipe for this. You just have the sauce, the noodles, some par-cooked veggies and tuna. Lately, I’ve been trying to make the sauce from scratch (a basic white sauce will usually do, but I like to make it tangy with either sour cream or yogurt).

A couple other tips: undercook the noodles, or at least make them al dente. The veggies: some people like to put them in raw, but I usually cook things like onions, celery and carrots a little bit to soften them. Also, things like mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes, you might want to cook them a bit to get more of the water out. Either that or you should make the sauce a little thicker so that it’ll even out when the water comes out of the veggies. Lastly, I drain the tuna (lately have been using the plain, non-oil packed chunk variety), break it up with a fork, and only mix it in at the end right before you put the mixture into the casserole and put it in the oven.

Lastly, a trick I learned – throw in a pinch of nutmeg into the sauce. Makes it interesting.

Oh. Warning: if you have a cat, it will probably not leave you alone while you are cooking and/or eating this.

[ Currently Eating: Fresh and Easy Burrito ]

Baked Spaghetti - Cheap Eats at Bloglander


I enjoyed that vacation WAY too much. I’ve been having to force myself to get back on the ball. While I decompress from the delicious vacay-afterglow, I’ll have to leave you with a mere Leftovers for Lunch post today.

I actually can’t remember if I posted this before. In all likelihood, I’ve put it up previously. Oh well. I was unloading vacation photos and decided to do a full camera dump. This picture of baked spaghetti was in the mix, so I decided to use it. Baked pasta is a great way to use up leftovers. You can actually do it as the initial meal and bake it fresh, or resurrect spaghetti leftovers from two days ago. Melted cheese makes any leftovers taste better.

And because I have nothing better to talk about, I will now sum up baked pasta in a William Carlos Williams style quote:

so much depends

a leftover

glazed with orange

inside the white

Have a poetic pasta day.

[ Currently Eating: Potato Salad Sandwich ]

PotatoSaladSando - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

OK, here’s a quickie Leftovers for Lunch post for today. Whenever we make potato salad for parties, we usually make extra and set it aside for ourselves. The next day, I usually make a potato salad sandwich. I know. It sounds a bit strange, but trust me, it’s actually pretty good. Kind of like an egg salad sandwich, but with potato in it.

We make our potato salad differently than the traditional American variety you might buy in those tubs at a supermarket. No mustard or dressing or onions or herbs, and light on the mayo. It’s a very light, clean tasting salad. We use a pretty high ratio of hard boiled eggs. We also throw in cubed cooked carrots, cucumbers (we use either the persian pickles or japanese cucumbers) and occasionally apples.

I like to spread it on warm french bread, but it tastes great on pretty much any type of bread. The great thing about potato salad in sandwiches is that the mixture clumps together, making it easily spreadable on bread. And since potato salad invariably tastes better the next day (or the day after that), it’s perfect for incorporating into leftover lunches.

[ Currently Eating: J&S Taco Plate ]

Deep Dish Pizza - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Remind me to get pissed off at food more often.

The other day I was sitting down to watch a hockey game. I had procurred one of those prepared meals from Fresh and Easy – this one was an enormous lasagna about the size of a small third world country. OMG, it was horrible, horrible, horrible. I’ve had really good experiences with F&E stuff, but their spaghetti meal is crap and this lasagna was probably the worst I’ve ever had EVER (a review is probably upcoming, if I can bring myself to revisit the horror).

Anyhow, here I was with a hockey game and nothing to eat. Farketty fark. I started to get mad. And when I get mad, instead of getting even, I usually cook something (I guess that is sort of getting even with the food). Usually something crazy, or at least something I haven’t tried before.

That something was Deep Dish Pizza.

I had just made up a batch of pizza dough the previous day, so I had the crust covered. I’ve always wanted to try to make one of these deep dish pizza things. I didn’t have the exact ingredients, but I decided to give it a go. In between the first and second period of the game, I set me up a cast iron pan with olive oil, the dough, cheese (I didn’t have Moz, only Jack Cheese), cooked sausage, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, bit of leftover spag sauce, some canned parm cheese.

Then I whacked it in the oven. It’s fun to whack things in the oven when you’re mad.

I came back during the commericals to find a pretty good approximation of a deep dish pizza. I know it’s not like the kind you’d get in Chicago, but I thought it was pretty darn good for being a first try.

Deep Dish Pizza - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

After inhaling about three slices, I cut up the remainder and put it in the fridge for leftovers the next day. They actually held up pretty well which surprised me – as the pizza cools it solidifies, allowing you to move it around more easily. When I first took it out of the oven, it had been a little wet.

For those who make their own deep dish pizza, I had a question: do you cover deep dish pizza with aluminum foil while baking? I thought of doing this, but didn’t. Because of that, the crust got a little too crispy, though it wasn’t bad.

Next time, I also would probably omit the extra spaghetti sauce and just add more chopped tomatoes. The mushrooms were uncooked which was a mistake that I should’ve caught – that extra water came out and added too much moisture. I’d also use mozzarella cheese, and more of it. I think I didn’t use enough cheese. You can never have too much cheese.

Other than these minor issues, I thought it was surprisingly good.

Oh, and we won the hockey game.



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