If you’re a parent with kids in the house, you likely have the local takeout restaurants on speed dial. Chances are this also means you’ve got some leftovers in the fridge—but not quite enough for another family meal. The solution?
Step 1: Invite your kiddo to a meeting of the minds. Ask him which simple ingredients or unexpected techniques the two of you can use to give those leftovers a tasty lift. Step 2: Cook. Step 3: Eat! You’ll teach your child about being resourceful and have a blast.
Want some inspiration? Consider these tasty, kinda-homemade leads:
1. Achieve Waffle-Patterned Pizza Bliss
Leftover pizza + a hot waffle iron = dreamy, drippy, delicious, and decidedly kid-friendly pizza pockets! Check out the instructions for savvy folding-n-pressing at Serious Eats. We’re big fans of adding extra fillings before you seal the deal—think extra cheese, sausage or potatoes leftover from breakfast, chopped veggies, sliced olives, canned pineapple, and fresh basil.
2. Rock Some Indian Fusion
Take a cue from Dahlia Sam of Simple Indian Recipes and toss your extra curry, korma, chana masala, palak paneer, or any other saucy Indian dish with hot, fresh-cooked pasta—it’s ultra fast and utterly fabulous. Another winner: using those saucy Indian dishes as a pizza topper—just add cheese and bake!
3. Make That Extra Rice Extra Nice
Sure, making a basic, healthy fried rice with that carton of leftover grains from last night’s Chinese or Thai takeout is an obvious option. On the other hand, already-cooked rice also gives great texture to frittatas, helps tender meatballs hold their shape, makes a mean savory sesame pancake, combines with leftover stir fry for a flavorful Asian-inspired arancini, and can transform into a fancy-feeling pudding in only 15 minutes.
4. Turn Fried Chicken into a Wrap Star
Kids tend to enjoy making (and eating) anything called a taco, burrito, or quesadilla. Simply use your favorite wrap to combine chopped leftover fried chicken, nuggets, or strips with your other fillings of choice (beans, cheese, veggies, sour cream, barbecue sauce, etc.).
5. Say Si To Breakfast
Leftover Mexican food begs to be served with eggs. Use sides of Mexican rice, beans, and tortillas to make huevos rancheros, turn chips into scrambled egg–topped breakfast nachos, and chop up leftover entrées (burrito, taco, quesadilla, enchiladas, tamales, etc.) to toss in your family’s morning scramble.
6. Be the Boss of Leftover Pasta
Kids will feel like kitchen magicians when they discover they can mix pretty much any leftover pasta with a little extra red or white sauce, toss it in a casserole dish, top with cheese and bread crumbs, and bake for a divine dinner. Or they can always combine pasta with eggs for a five-star frittata. But if you happen to have leftover fettuccine alfredo and 30 minutes, Rachael Ray’s smoked salmon and corn chowder is your team’s wow-the-crowd recipe du jour.
Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!