HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


I like leftovers, but not frozen leftovers. You?

Once they go into the freezer they don't get defrosted to be eaten again. It's not that I overcook, it's because we'll eat out. Still feel bad about the waste though. <sigh>.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't eat leftovers. That's Mr. Angela's department. And I never put leftovers in the freezer. Tried it once, at MIL's insistence, years ago when we were first married. Beef stew. Looked disgusting when I thawed it out and it went into the trash.

    1 Reply
    1. re: AngelaID

      rarely eat leftovers.
      NEVER eat frozen leftovers.

    2. I rely on the freezer quite a bit some things freeze well some things don't - it is also important to store properly

      Soups freeze well as long as rice/pasta/potatoes are omitted

      Tomato based pasta sauces freeze well, cream based sauces less so

      Braised meats freeze well especially if suspended in braising liquid, grilled meats not so much.

      1. I love my freezer stash!!! I often spend a whole day cooking with a friend just to "feed the freezer"!

        As a working mom the freezer insures that we all get a good, nutritious meal every night. My wallet appreciates not wasting g money on quick take out. I would rather spend those dollars at great sit down meal. Don't get me wrong we have our share take out but I love not having that be the fall back.

        My freezer typically has things like home made pizza dough, ready to make rolls. Assorted soups, baked pasta dishes, assorted meatballs and meatloaf, waffles, egg sandwiches and stews. I often make loads of rice and freeze in bags to be reheated as needed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2

          I just bought a new chest freezer and love it! My parents keep reminding me "you have to actually eat what you make, not just make it to freeze it." It's so nice to have a supply of ready-to-eat food and I have no issue with frozen leftovers though I only freeze particular things.

        2. I freeze a lot of leftovers. In my observation as a general rule, stuff that has a long and wet cooking time (stews, braises, etc) tend to freeze well, while dry/short cooking time items tend not to freeze so well. We don't waste food. It all goes to waist. *sigh*

          1. My leftovers mostly go into the fridge and are eaten as breakfast or lunch. When I freeze, it is generally individual ingredients (onions, cheese, meats, etc.) or dishes I prepare specifically to freeze, such as meat sauce, soup, uncooked but formed meatloaf, etc. as opposed to actual leftovers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tcamp

              Me too. I am amazed at how well individual ingredients freeze for use in cooking. I have different sofrito's and mirepoix my freezer in smaller servings- what a time saver- when texture is not an issue like in sauces and blended soups.

            2. A lot of my leftovers never make it to the freezer... but I don't mind when they do. Freezer meals can be a lifesaver when I'm not up to cooking... and some things freeze really well. DH doesn't like leftovers in any form, so freezing extra food saves me from having to eat the same meal until I'm ready to scream.

              1. I seldom freeze leftovers. I do refrigerate them. If they aren't eaten in a few days, we pitch. But I like leftovers as a general rule, and I try to eat them or work them into another meal.

                1. I'm really ashamed to say it, but I can't stand leftovers. I'll go through the act of putting it in the fridge, but it'll get chucked 2 days later. I've gotten really good at cooking only what we need, but for eating out, I always have the sad little doggie box.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: alliegator

                    alligator: i concur with you on this. was practically lynched on one of the other boards when i divulged this (i think it was the home cooking board?).
                    (you'd think these folks had stock in companies that sell freezers the way they blew up at me)

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Yes. I love my freezers (yes, plural) but I agree that frozen leftovers, of completed dinners, are gross.

                      But, I prep things specifically to be frozen and really love them, but they are not fully cooked meals. Yes to duxelles, pesto, homemade stocks, Chinese master stocks, special marinades, whole fruit for sangria, wine for cooking with and pre-soaked beans....No to leftovers!

                      I just made about 50 homemade pot stickers for the freezer. I wouldn't want to cook them or sauce them before freezing though. Blech. I think you have to know what freezes well and what doesn't. Not just throw things in there. Frozen prep items are a godsend in my house.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        For me there is no such thing as a 'left over'. If I make say a meat loaf it's with the idea that I will be freezing half of it. Same with BB etc etc.
                        Properly frozen foods are delicious IMO. Made enough chicken cacciatore recently to have for one meal. Gave a couple of containers to the kids, and froze 2 good size containers. Had one the other night. It was delicious.
                        There's a balance that needs to be understood along with a mind-set. Don't make so much that the small amount you all couldn't eat has to go in the fridge only to be forgotten for a few days but it's not enough to bother freezing. That's the key. Make enough so you know you'll be freezing some of it or eating it all at one sitting. Unless it's chinese food which is always better the next day! LOL

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        My spouse won't really eat leftovers so I get your POV. On the other hand, growing up we'd have at least one meal a week of just leftovers. My dad would pull out a series of little containers from the fridge and auction them off. We loved it. Now, one of my kids searches the fridge for leftovers and eats them for breakfast which is a big bummer when I've planned to take for lunch.

                        Takes all kinds!

                    2. Is there something in particular you don't like about them? Taste? Texture? What are you freezing? If you know you won't eat it why are you freezing it?

                      1. I don't ever freeze left overs. If I don't finish something when I first make it, it's usually because it didn't appeal to me much to begin with, and freezing it and thawing it out in 2 weeks is not going to change that. I am, however, trying to start freezing individual ingredients. I used to be completely anti freezing anything, but I've been somewhat inspired by Chowhound to start this practice and ensure that less things go to waste.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SaraAshley

                          Do it, Sara! Go to the dark side :)

                          Having prepped ingredients makes life so much easier and gives you way more options for quick dinners.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            Yep, I think ya'll have persuaded me!

                          2. re: SaraAshley

                            I agree, I don't freeze leftovers unless I specifically am making more of a dish for the purpose of freezing - stews, soups, etc.

                          3. Well, there are different kinds of leftovers.
                            I regularly make extras of soups, stews, veggie burgers and sauces specifically to freeze and then use for quick meals on a weeknight.
                            But i don't usually have much in the way of leftovers from each meal i make, unless intentionally do so for lunch the next day.

                            When i was a kid thursday nights were leftoverpalooza. The leftovers veg bits got added to a fresh green salad, and if my parents had leftover meat/chicken that would either go ontop or turn into a hot sandwich. My mom cooked most nights so dad was in charge of lettover night- he made some pretty amazing open face leftover sandwiches! Since they were open face and messy enough to need a knife and fork i think he thought it felt more like a proper dinner.
                            Where i grew up take out and delivery options were limited, added up quickly to feed a family, and therefore a rare treat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              Your lefoverpaloosza sounds like my house one night per week. We love it. It is often some stir fry, salad or pot pie event! Fabulous home cook/iron chef/ creative event where it feels good to not be wasteful...and thankful for our bounty. Nothing wrong with that!

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                +1 to that ... and adding leftover frozen Birthday cake.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  There is no such thing as leftover ice cream.

                                  1. re: ricepad

                                    There was a time when I could finish a tub of the Costco/Kirkland vanila bean ice cream in one sitting.

                                    But, alas, I am not nearly half the Chowhound I once aspired to be.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      maybe that's a good thing? :)

                                      You might only be half the hound, but that might mean you'll be around twice as long?

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Why would being half the 'hound mean living twice as long?

                                        And I wouldn't want to live longer, much less twice longer, if I couldn't eat as much ice cream as I wanted to.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          (frantically draws pictures)

                                          if you're half the hound *physically*, as in half the size, as in perhaps not morbidly obese and at least theoretically less at risk for food-related health disorders?

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            I consistently have trouble maintaining weight.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                Not sure why you think it's necessary to make fun of my weight.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  I wasn't.

                                                  I'll admit I misread it at first, as in maintaining weight from the heavy side...but I was including myself in the population who struggle with their weight.

                                                  Most people would agree that tucking away an entire tub of ice cream is probably not overly beneficial to one's health...

                                                  ...if anything, I was expressing the hope that, by taking care of your health, you might be around the boards for a longer time.

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        Ha! I wish I could send it to you. I hate waste. No one at my house eats store bought ice cream. Occasionally, we make a small amount for a dessert, but it is coconut milk ice cream.

                                        The store bought ice cream that guests have left in the freezer just turns gross. It gets a sticky coating over the top.

                                        Ice cream bar things get eaten. Just not tubs.

                                        1. re: sedimental

                                          Easy fix - if it's a round ice cream container, use a plastic lid that fits inside, pressing it down to flatten and contact the remainind ice cream. Or use a flat-bottomed can or cup to press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface. Not your hand, which will cause melting.

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            I rarely eat ice cream and the plastic wrap works great.

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              Good tip! Thanks. We don't like store bought ice cream so we trash it anyway...but keep thinking we should eat it :)

                                    2. We often make a double quantity of things to freeze but also freeze useful leftovers. If not freezable, they get used up one way or another. We hate waste - nor can we afford to have it.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Harters

                                        If you live alone, either you eat from the freezer or there are certain things you never eat. I can't manage 12 portions of lasagna or moussaka or all 8 slices of a quiche or all 14 pints of Cuban black bean soup. However from my freezer all are eventually most welcome.

                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          That is true....even for 2 people that have light appetites!

                                          I rarely freeze leftovers so that means there are some things I just don't make until my kids come to visit or I have a friend over. Otherwise, I take it for lunch or eat it for breakfast for several days. That works out okay, but often there is a piece or two still left that eventually gets tossed. I hate that. It is a little bit better when there are two of you.

                                      2. Our day-to-day leftovers usually get taken to work the next day for lunch (yes, I purposely overcook for lunch -- we both work in a black hole where there are little to no options for quick/cheap/healthy).

                                        Once in a while I make soup on the weekends and freeze half, and we eat the other half for a day or two.

                                        I also make lasagna, enchiladas, pot pie, and quiche specifically to put in the freezer for when I'm out of town or if I know we've got a crazy-busy week coming.

                                        Pretty rare for me to freeze one or two servings.

                                        1. Aren't left overs meant to be eaten THE NEXT DAY; after the ingredients have melded?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: RedTop

                                            not everyone is going to be around the next day (travel, other commitments, etc)

                                            Sometimes you end up with a *lot* of leftovers (somebody sick or gone, the magical way a pot of chili grows...)

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              Didn't consider the exceptions you pointed out, sunshine. Thanks for the bearings correction.

                                          2. What, no homemade chili in the freezer? For shame.

                                            1. I rarely freeze leftovers, preferring to eat them before they go south in the refrigerator. I like leftovers just as much as I liked the food first time around, with the added bonus of not having to prepare it from scratch all over again.
                                              I can honestly say I love leftovers.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                and things like stews and soups and lasagna are better as leftovers, anyway.

                                              2. I like planned overs. Things I know will be good second time around. Stir fry, yes, great for lunches. Extra fish. . . no thank you. And some things are great leftovers, like fajita fixings, but don't do well in the freezer.

                                                I always make extra spaghetti sauce/stuffed pasta/lasagna because it isn't much more work and then I have freezer options when the toddler who didn't nap is now melting down after a long day of work and due to allergies/location take out just isn't an option and we still need to EAT!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: autumm

                                                  Today we ate leftovers....but nobody complained!

                                                  I had a pot roast left over from earlier in the week, so I roughly chopped it and heated it with a large can of fire-roasted tomatoes, some pesto, garlic, and a half a can of paste.

                                                  Spooned over pasta, it was absolutely delicious...and tomorrow's lunch is all packed and ready to grab on the way out the door.

                                                  (that was a particularly good deal -- that's three meals from one piece of on-sale meat)

                                                2. From time to time I use homemade frozen leftover stocks, broths and even demi-glace. I would not have time to make those at the last minute after a long day of traveling or working.

                                                  1. I'm a little funny about frozen things. My mother liked to buy food on special (ex: chicken leg quarters) and cook them in quantity and put them in the freezer. Since she overcooked everything, the leathery chicken wasn't helped by freezer-burn. Gah.

                                                    I've poisoned myself a few times by eating things from the fridge that were too old. However, i sort of resist freezing leftovers. Makes no sense really.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Teague

                                                      Teague, my Mom feared chicken too!

                                                      I carried a loathing for anything chicken well into my adult life because it was always awful, and awfully over-cooked, at my parent's table. (and that was the day when no meats were genetically altered!)

                                                    2. This is a pretty interesting topic. As a yuck to leftovers person, I'll at least offer up a valid reason. If you live in a condo or apartment, it's unlikely you have more than a standard size fridge/freezer. At least in my home, the fridge is full of produce, cheeses, fresh meat, and cold beverages. The freezer is filled with ice, ice cream, and a frozen pizza or lean cuisine or two for dire food emergencies.
                                                      So, no room? No leftovers.