Instead of dialing up a takeout restaurant the next time the thought of eating last night’s dinner makes you gag, remember this secret: “The key to making leftovers desirable is for them to not look or taste like what you had the night before,” says celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff, R.D. “While the ingredients are similar, your mouth and mind think they’re having something new.”
With a few additions and changes (and a little creativity!), you can take your meal from blah to brilliant. Here are six simple and stress-free leftover makeovers to get you started!
1Original Meal: Grilled chicken with steamed broccoli
Leftover Makeover: Healthy pitas!
Cut up the grilled chicken and add a teaspoon of low fat mayonnaise and a hint of mustard to make chicken salad, suggests Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., president of Zied Health Communications and author of “Nutrition at Your Fingertips .” Then, chop the broccoli, and combine with the chicken salad in a whole-wheat pita pocket.
2Original Meal: Veggie burgers with sweet potato wedges
Leftover Makeover: Protein-packed salad!
Crumble the veggie burger, cube the sweet potato wedges and toss with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, says Koff. Throw in a handful of hemp seeds for additional protein (which have about 3.5 grams per tablespoon) and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
3Original Meal: Baked salmon with brown rice
Leftover Makeover: Instant stir-fry!
Slice the baked salmon and throw it into a pan along with the brown rice and a variety of canned or fresh veggies like carrots, peas and onions, says Zied. Then, sauté the whole mixture with a teaspoon of canola oil.
4Original Meal: Skirt steak with green beans
Leftover Makeover: Taco night!
Thinly slice the steak and chop up the beans, says Koff. Combine those ingredients with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato and serve in corn tortillas. Add a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) on top.
5Original Meal: Grilled shrimp with whole wheat linguini on the side
Leftover Makeover: Cold pasta salad!
Cut the shrimp into medium-sized pieces and combine with cherry tomatoes and asparagus in the linguini, says Zied. Then, add a teaspoon of olive oil, and onion and garlic powder for an added flavor boost.