In Season: The Art of the Leftover


By: Eryn Austin

I don’t know about you, but the long slog through winter is easier to survive when your fridge is full of hearty leftovers! My family adores a good pot roast or slow cooker full of flavor. And while we agree sometimes leftovers can feel a bit repetitive, we think you will love our solution to any “that again?” complaints.

What you need: leftovers.
What you do: repurpose them.
How you do it: with a bit of creativity.

Here are my family’s Top 3 ways we rethink the same old, same old.

Pot Roast Pie Take that leftover pot roast and veggies, even a little of the sauce and fill a prepared pie crust ¾ of the way. We are not fancy, okay? We buy frozen pie crusts to keep things simple. After filling the crust with the yummy meat filling, add some mashed potatoes and spread it out evenly. No shame if you need to use an instant tater packet, friends. We are trying to make life simpler. But if you need a tried and true mashed potato recipe- see below for mine. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, but keep an eye on that potato topper to ensure it doesn’t overbake. We promise you that this will become a family favorite.

BBQ Shepherd’s Pie Okay, I know that what I am about to describe is in no way a traditional Shepherd’s pie. But it is divine, and your tummy will thank you. The smoky BBQ flavor makes this little pie an absolute delight on a cold evening. You will love this delicious leftover redesign if you love BBQ pork in the crock pot or from the smoker as we do. Just take that extra pork and spread an even layer in the prepared pie crusts I apparently can’t stop talking about. Add a layer of frozen or canned peas and carrots, then top with (you guessed it!) mashed potatoes and a little sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until warmed through, and thank me later, folks.

Leftover Pasta Bake This quick meal is sure to please, and you’ll be stealing hearts around the dinner table every time. Literally, any leftover pasta will work for this, friends. Tortellini with meat sauce, traditional spaghetti and meatballs or even your favorite chicken alfredo will work. Just take those leftovers and plop them into a baking dish, add a bit more sauce and mix through. Top with a mix of Italian cheeses and bake until bubbly. Serve this with fresh parmesan grated on top and crusty french bread on the side. Cannot beat this weekly fave, I promise.

Okay, so now that you are thinking of all the creative ways to make leftovers less leftovery, let me tell you about my mashed potatoes.

You need gold potatoes, loves. I rough-peel mine, but you can leave that skin on without a problem. Boil in salted water until fork tender. Drain all but a cup of the potato water, add half a stick of butter to the pot and then mash. Hand mash. Yep. I once used a stand mixer for this, but nothing beats a hand-mashed tater. Add a splash of heavy cream and ¼ cup of sour cream (adjust amounts to the consistency you prefer) and season with garlic salt, a little ranch seasoning, fresh pepper and chives to taste. These never fail.

*Add fresh thyme and rosemary for a more herby vibe, and play with. it until you find the right formula for your family.

In the daily chaos of life, take the time to enjoy a lovely and nourishing meal. Then, enjoy it again the next night with a twist. I hope this helps simplify your meal planning for 2023.