Leftover Dinner

When you cook every night from scratch, leftovers have a way of catching up with you.  I try to eat them for lunch so they don’t accumulate, but eventually I end up with no choice but to have a Leftover Dinner.

I hate Leftover Dinner. No matter how organized I try to be, it has a way of turning into utter chaos.

First I go through the fridge and pull out a dozen or so containers.  I lay them out on the island and announce the myriad of choices.  Commence squabbling.  Naturally everyone wants the same thing.  Not quite sure where to start, I choose a child, demand that a choice be made, and dish up that particular plate, cover with wax paper, and pop into the microwave.

Another child throws a fit because she wanted that dinner.  Remove said child from table for time out.

Third child makes a choice, albeit slowly and with lots of deliberation and last minute mind changes.  I dish up the plate.  Remove first plate from the microwave, hand it to its proper owner, put second plate in the microwave.

The first child complains that his dinner is still cold.  Call to disobedient child and invite her to return to the table.  She makes a reasonable choice this time, and I dish up third plate.  Remove second plate from microwave.  Return first [cold] plate to microwave.  Serve drinks.

Owner of second plate complains that hers is too hot.  She runs off to play while it cools down.

Remove first plate from microwave.  Return to its rightful owner.  Put third plate in microwave.  Dish up hubby’s plate.  The first child is done and wants more.  Take third plate from microwave, set it on table.  Put hubby’s plate in microwave.  Take first plate from first child and dish up second helpings.

Remove hubby’s plate from microwave and deliver.  Call second child to come back and eat; her plate should be cooled by now.  Third child is done and runs off to play.  Hub gets up and pops his plate back in the microwave; it wasn’t warm enough.

Conversation ensues.  Everyone talks at once.  Child #3 is annoyed that no one will let her finish a sentence.  Child #1 teases child #2.  Child #3 wants more milk.  Child #1 asks to go play with his friends.

Hub finishes up his first plate, declares his undying love for Leftover Dinner and all the glorious choices, and returns to the counter for another round. Child #2 and #3 are finished and run off to play.

I pause, the first moment in the last 20 that I have no one making a request that requires my immediate action, and survey the scene that entails something like 12454 dirty plates between the kitchen counters and the table.

That’s when I realize, I never even got a chance to eat.

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38 Responses

  1. LOL! I hate having too many leftovers. I don’t really know how to cook small, so I end up with lots of leftovers. God bless my husband, who usually manages to take most of them to work for lunch. I basically create lunches from leftovers after dinner and put each complete lunch into a container. The containers all go into the freezer, and he (and sometimes I) grab one on the way out the door. Still, I end up with the odd dish or two, and usually nobody wants it. Must get a dog…

  2. If it makes you feel any better, that’s exactly how leftover dinner goes down at our house too. 🙂

  3. I make a casserole out of most of my left overs. I know it sounds old fashioned and kinda gross, but if try you should be able to merge 2 or 3 of those left overs into a really yummy meal. Then I use the other lefts overs as sides. Add cheese and bacon, lol makes everything yummy.
    Tiffany @ Wyatt Family Farm

  4. Oh my…..my house exactly, right down to sending a kid to time out and me not getting to sit down to eat. You need to add a 4th kid though….that’s when the magic really happens!

  5. And that’s when I pour myself a BIG glass of wine, heat up MY dinner, & announce “Does anybody need anything else because Momma is sitting down & NOT getting up until I’m done with MY dinner?!?!” But I usually get up again anyway because my plate wasn’t hot enough & needs 1 more round in the microwave. HA! Gotta love leftover night – especially when the hubs is deployed & it’s just “The Momma Show!” 🙂

  6. Oh this makes me laugh. It totally mimics dinner for us right now – except we’re living with my parents so it’s 6 adults squabbling over which leftovers to eat, one toddler who refuses to eat anything and an infant who insists on being nursed during dinner, no matter what time dinner is EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

    Our favorite thing to do with leftover meat or grilled veggies is to turn it into mexican – soft tacos or enchaladas or quesadillas. Reheat the meat, add a little cheese, some sour cream and salsa and a soft taco shell and you’re good to go!

  7. This is my life! LOL. Doesn’t it feel good to get those containers out of the frig? Do you ever try to “spruce up” the more undesirable left-overs, to make them more appealing, and understate the more recent/ yummier ones? The older my kids get, the harder they are to fool.

  8. See I get lucky Mr E rarley leaves enough food for their to be leftovers. What he does leave is consumed the next day. Unfortunatley in the rare case that there are left overs I can’t get him to touch it with a 10ft stick 90% of the time.

    I do like Megan’s idea of making ‘taco’s’ out of the leftovers. Most everything is good in a tortilla shell. Another thing we did as kids growing up was take the sandwich making machine. (you know the thing that made hot sandwiches in a griddle–kind of like a waffle iron) We would make all sorts of sandwiches with it, spaghetti was our favorite. Use garlic butter on the bread instead of regular butter and it was heaven on earth for us. And because it was in a fun triangle sandwich pouch kind of shape it was fun to eat.

  9. I loved how you wrote that! funny funny. Again thinking I made the right choice for myself having one child 😉 I couldn’t handle what you do!!

    We call ours “Dups” – as in “warmed ups.” I serve it buffet style – I heat up all the various things and lay it all out on the table at once. Sometimes one of us might eat two bites out of each. Sometimes one person takes the whole thing. But we’re all sitting down at once before the calls are made.

    1. But isn’t the first stuff cold by the time the last stuff is done?

      I suppose I could go old school and heat it up in the oven, but then I’d have to have enough oven safe dishes. BLEH.

    2. This is what I do! I call it “buffet night.” Everyone takes as much or as little as they want of every dish.

  10. Um, you just described my life, except, add child #4, #5 and #6 and some inadvertent spills to clean up because child #6 feels the need to dump his drink on the floor accidentally because he didn’t want a cup in a sippy top to prevent such a thing from happening. Sigh.

  11. Now, see, I figured out halfway through your post that you weren’t eating LOL Take out mom heating everyone’s plates and you’ve got my Mom’s house when she tells everyone to “fend for themselves” it’s chaos. I normally hide in a corner until all of the pre-teens and teens are gone LOL

    1. thats what we have “fend for yourself nite”. but now it is just 2 of us, we fend for ourselves a lot more often! i love my empty nest, but i miss those chaotic nights! ;( my family will be together this week. i am so excited! it is a big deal to get together when you live from California to Texas!

  12. Sounds just like dinner at our house! Except in our house it’s called Mustgoes! Either we eat it or it must go – as in it must go in the trash! We always have “Mustgo Night” the night before the trash goes out! That way the fridge is clean, all the dishes get put in the dishwasher and the trash doesn’t smell all week long!

    I always skip Mustgo Night and have a nice hot Lean Cuisine (or something equally as decedent since I am trying to eat only Real Food) once everyone else has gone off to play or whatever! I can eat in peace!

    Glad to know I am not the only mom with a crazy dinner time!
    Sheri O.

  13. LOL – I can so relate with everything that you said. It never fails that everyone in the house has eaten before I even set down. And I am usually the one eating a cold dinner at that!

  14. That’s how my mom did it when I was a kid, except it was all in a million little Corningware storage bowls or wrapped in tinfoil packages and she heated ’em all up in the oven. I say mix it all together and throw it in a deep dish pie crust with another crust on top, sister!

  15. I have been a reader for ever, but I believe this is the first time I have ever commented. Can I just say–have you been peeking into my kitchen about every 6th night? This description fits my family to a T!! I had to repost on my FB page…too funny! (Except when it’s actually happening at your house….)

  16. I haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive me if I repeat someone else.

    First, we rarely have that much left over because I’ve pretty much figured out how much to make to feed our family without leftovers, since very few of us eat them and because feeding 7 people is obviously not cheap. If we do have leftovers they are almost always eaten by Husband.

    Second, you need to adopt a new rule, in my opinion. We serve the kids and then ourselves. No one is allowed to ask for seconds until Husband and I have had a chance to eat our first serving. We’re starting to let the big kids get their own second serving if they are able, but we definitely let them know that we eat before they eat a second time. It has helped them take their time to eat a little bit more and make sure they are actually hungry before going back for more.

    Third, isn’t it frustrating to prepare a nice meal and then your kids have cleaned their plates in less than five minutes? I always feel like all my work was wasteful.

    1. Yeah, we’re trying to teach them to savor their food and enjoy the conversation, and we don’t usually let them leave till we’re all done eating. But on Leftover Night, it’s like all the rules fly out the window. And b/c I generally detest leftovers, I really don’t care if I don’t eat. I know, bad attitude much?

  17. I had to laugh because that’s me…You could do it like my MIL and reheat everything in little pans on the stove- then you’ve got more dirty dishes ! LOL!!!

  18. How funny! We’ve been having leftover dinner once a week! And in addition to the pile of dirty plates, I end up with tons of empty storage containers to wash up too. But at least that means a fridge with room in it again!!

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