Thursday, June 14, 2007

Won't eat leftovers

Q: We have company staying with us for a while and he doesn’t eat leftovers! EVER! So how do I hide the fact that we are having leftovers? It is very expensive to cook from scratch every meal and never reheat something. I thought he didn’t like dinner leftovers but would reheat them for lunch but NO. I know that a cooked chicken can become chicken soup but what do you do with left over Ziti or left over potato salad! At first I was freezing them thinking that my husband and I would bring them lunch or eat them once he was gone, but now I’ve got a freezer full of leftovers and he is will us for another 2 months! Any help would be helpful. I did make less food so there were no leftovers but then he complained that there were no seconds helping. I want to show hospitality but it’s getting to me now.

A: Wow! Guests should never voice dislike of a host's offerings, except in cases of food allergies. Let's think of a strategy to keep your food budget intact, while making your guest feel comfortable. Perhaps our readers will chip in their advice in the comments, too.

Foods like potato salad and pasta salad are near-impossible to re-invent. Off the top of my head, I suggest cooking basic vegetables for dinner side dishes and then re-inventing the leftovers into composed side dishes for another meal. While you can't turn potato salad into twice-baked mashed potatoes later, starting with baked potatoes the night before lets you have hashed browned potatoes the next morning. Steamed carrots with ginger at dinner become a marinated cold salad of carrot rounds, red onion, and cucumber slices the next day. Sauteed spinach from last night's steak dinner becomes spinach quiche for lunch; steamed broccoli becomes a broccoli rice salad. You may also find some ideas in our Iron Chef Mom cook-off menus.

My strategy: begin with plain meats and vegetables, then make casseroles, salads, or egg dishes with the remaining meats and vegetables. I hope he'll be so wowed by your creative menus, he won't notice the repeated ingredients!

22 comments:

hsgbdmama said...

Yes, I agree - start with basic meats and veggies for the original meal and them remake them into something else for the next evening's meal.

Bake (or crock pot) 1-2 whole chickens with veggies (corn, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower); the first meal can be the chicken and then subsequent meals could be casseroles, italian dishes or pot pies.

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

My strategy: Tell the guest to start chipping in for food. If he has enough gall to criticize your food AND request "no leftovers," then he should pony up some cash. Catering to someone like that only serves to reinforce their boorish behavior.

Anonymous said...

Yikes!

I agree with Midnight Raider -- Is there any way your guest can chip in on the grocery budget?

I'm assuming that he's someone you HAVE to tolerate ... like a college-age brother with no cash. Or a father-in-law who's staying with you during house rennovations.

Otherwise, I think I'd risk tanking the relationship: a picky houseguest for TWO MONTHS!

In 'Confessions of an Organized Homemaker,' Deneice Schofield recommends 'planned overs' instead of leftovers. For example, Sunday's roast becomes Tuesday's beef stew.

Here are some ways to use your leftover meats:
* stews
* soups
* sandwiches
* stir fries
* quesidillas
* burritos

Anyway, I wish you luck ... and patience ... with your houseguest.

-- Jora

Ewokgirl said...

I could tolerate this no-leftovers stance in a guest for about a week, but beyond that, there's a point at which the guest is living there, and he needs to be given some general house rules. For example, if he doesn't eat leftovers for lunch, then he needs to be shown the location of the jar of peanut butter and the loaf of bread.

As for disguising foods, casseroles and the like are the way to go, IMO. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.

If he doesn't want to eat leftover potato salad, he doesn't have to, but again, that's where he needs to take care of himself. You don't need to knock yourself out trying to appease a needlessly-picky guest. I have food allergies, and I would never expect this special treatment from my hosts. If they make something I can't eat, I just don't eat it, and I'll pick up something for myself later on, if necessary.

Showing hospitality does not equal being a doormat. Sometimes hospitality means letting a person feel at home enough to take care of their own quirks and "needs."

Indie said...

How old is spoiled brat guest? I would point him to the nearest restaurant on leftover night and tell him to take care of himself.

I'm a vegetarian and when I visit I always offer to bring a dish that I could eat as a meal if they can't accommodate me and/or help the host plan something. For a longer visit, I help with the grocery shopping, the cooking and meal planning so that it is not any more difficult than normal. Anyone who stays for two months is responsible for adapting to the family and shouldn't expect to be pandered to.

Ann said...

It must be made clear to the guest that he can expect the normal family meal plan,which includes leftovers, since he is staying longer than three days. When a comment is made about leftovers or not enough food, then the response is that the guest is no longer a guest and should expect the normal family meal plan. It can be suggested that the guest procure his own "meal supplements" at his own expense.

The guest can also be made aware of what day meal planning is done, and given the opportunity to provide a meal of his choice. Post a menu for the week, including leftovers and let the guest know that you won't be offended if he goes out to eat on your leftover day.

Both wife and husband need to present a united front on this issue especially if the guest is a relative.

I've had family and friends stay with us for several months at a time and they were expected to fit in with the family routine.

Marie said...

I'd let him be hungry! Sheesh!

Honey said...

I have had weeklong guests who requested their meals and gave me a list to go along with their Atkin's diet. So I planned around them as much as possible, but for several months, I don't know what I'd have done!

If this is an elder relative, as someone suggested, then it would be extra delicate. In that case, out of respect, I would probably prepare new meals every day I could--even if he is being unreasonable. But if it is a younger relative, I would treat him like part of the family. What would you do if your child suddenly wouldn't eat leftovers? That said, my husband doesn't prefer leftovers. (He will eat them though). So I try to reinvent meals like Meredith suggested or freeze them as you have done.

Perhaps you can cheerfully ask him to go grocery shopping for the coming week, and tell him he will be able to get whatever he wants. if he likes that, he might continue, and if he doesn't, he might be more flexible. :) It's good to make him feel welcome, but a true long-term welcome is making someone a part of the family as he is since he is living with you.

Debbie said...

I agree with what everyone else said, all around. I also think that being honest with this person to indicate your budget *choices* might go a long way toward some positive changes.

But I do have one other suggestion. Have you got a good friend/neighbor you could do some meal swapping with -- someone who has the same level of commitment to good but affordable eating plans? That might take some of the stress off you too. My wonderful neighbor and I do this more in the winter, esp when we know the other is busy, stressed or just has the winter blahs.

Good luck!

Nanny Y. said...

I am sorry you are facing this dilemma at all! I think you have already gotten great suggestions on how to creatively disguise leftovers but I would not for a minute tolerate being told how to run my household from a guest. It is really poor guest etiquette. Adults who act like children get treated like children by me. They get a very bland "Oh, I'm sorry you feel that way. There is fruit in the fridge if you prefer" and no offer of anything else. Food allergies (allergies not pickiness) are of course an exception. :) I wish you the best in coping with your guest!!

paigeu said...

I had someone living with me who I made dinner for someone who didn't eat vegetables (like NO vegetables AT ALL, not in soup or a casserole or anything).

I just told him what was for dinner that week and then told him if he was not going to be around for dinner that night I wouldn't be offended but just let me know so I can plan accordingly.

2boysmama said...

Wow! My son has a food allergy and i always try to help out when we are visiting somewhere. This sounds ridiculous!

Carrie J said...

I agree with everyone else. They have given you good advice. I think if you don't draw a line the next 2 months are not going to go well at all and you may end up seriously resenting this person.
The only reason I see for making such concessions would be for sever food allergy, and even then I feel your main responsibility is just to inform the person that what they are allergic to is in the dish.
It sounds like you have been more than hospitable and that this person is taking advantage of you. It really is a two way street and the guest(especially one staying this long) has a responsibility to not impose on you.

Jan said...

I have a few suggestions: 1. Start with a brisket, slow cooked, served sliced with baked potatoes the first night. The next go-round with the brisket, slice it, pop it into the slow cooker with a pound of hamburger, and a pound of sliced smoked sausage, and cover with bbq sauce. Serve over buns, open-faced. Use the extra baked potatoes from the first meal for hash browns for breakfast or lunch.

2. Start with a roasted or slow cooked chicken, 5-6 pounds. Serve with roasted potatoes, green beans, whatever plain veg. y'all like. Next go-round, the leftover chicken turns into chicken salad. Or chicken with dumplings (for ease, use canned broth to supplement what is left from cooking the chicken, and cut up cheap canned biscuits to drop into the boiling broth for the dumplings).

3. Make a meat loaf. Make two, actually. The second meal, slice it, sprinkle with a sharp cheddar, and serve with rolls as open-faced sandwiches.

Three meals become six,with little effort or cost on your part.

4. If your guest is still recalcitrant, suggest that he treat y'all to a meal at his favorite restaurant once or twice a week.

As Mark Twain so famously said, after 3 days, both company and fish begin to stink.

MamaTod said...

Perhaps Peter's vision of the 'unclean things' could be applied to today's world...i.e. leftovers = unclean things and God says "arise and eat."

Seriously, I'd have major problems with a guest who acted this way. Even if he helps pay for the food he has no business adding to your daily burden of meal preparation. It's time to appeal to your husband and for him to step up and set this fellow straight; that's part of his role as your protector. Furthermore, unless there are physical handicaps involved, he should be expected to help around the house too (dishes anyone?). "if a man will not work, neither should he eat", whether first-timers or leftovers.

Debbie said...

I wonder if the problem is that he doesn't want to eat the same thing two days in a row. In which case your freezer treasures might become acceptable again after a week has passed.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Three words:

Pack your bags.

Or...

Eat it or leave (thats four).

Tammy L said...

Oh my goodness!! I see that lots of other commenters have already typed my thoughts. ;)

If we had a longer-term houseguest (I mean, the reader did mention "monthS, right?!) they would just have to deal with our menu. Would I work around allergies? Of course. Preferences/likes/dislikes? Sure. But I wouldn't make pizza every night for 3 months, any sooner than I would never ever serve an ounce of leftovers for 3 months.

I mean, seriously... potato salad? What, does he eat it the minute it's made, or does it sit in the fridge for a couple hours first? Wouldn't that turn it into a "leftover"?! I can be pretty creative about using leftovers, since my husband and I don't really like to eat a lot of leftovers, but we don't consider second-day potato salad "leftover"! :P :D

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I haven't even read the comments, but I am absolutely floored. Your questioner has a 'guest' staying with her for a long period of time, she expects him to stay for two more months, and he 'won't' eat what she prepares and serves? !!!!
And he COMPLAINS about not having enough for seconds? Who RAISED this person?

I think I would tell him (with a smile on your face and a sympathetic tone dripping with honey) how much you regret that you don't have enough money in the budget NOT to eat leftovers, but if he'd like to go out to eat at a restaurant for the meals where you're eating leftovers and come home after you've all finished, you totally understand. And keep right on cooking what you normally cook.

The Biblical command says to practice hospitality. There is nothing in that command requiring you to run a catering service and break your budget. Practicing hospitality is meeting a need, not breaking your family's budget to meet somebody else's impudent demands.

I have a child with several food allergies, and I NEVER ask other people to cater to those. When we are invited over, I thank them, and I bring food our child can eat. If she can eat the meal our host prepared, lovely. If she can't, it is my responsibility to provide the back-up plan.

Seriously, this guest is not expecting biblical hospitality, he's treating his hostess like she runs a boarding house. Unless he's paying for that privilege it needs to stop.

Harmony said...

I agree with everyone who says that the guest is being completely rude.

I also have a suggestion... instead of freezing the leftovers in individual portion sizes, why don't you freeze the uncooked meals in individual meal sizes? In my house, I make a whole lot of meatballs at once and freeze them all. I then take out just as many as I need for that time and cook them in sauce. I also split my casseroles into two smaller dishes (instead of baking the whole thing in the original sized casserole dish the recipe indicates) and freeze one before it is cooked. If the guest only dislikes reheated food, this might be an option.

If he objects to this, I would say that he has no business asking you to cater to him for several months at a time. Just explain to him that this is becoming a burden on your budget, and while you would like to accommodate him, you simply can't afford it for the next few months. If he would like to chip in, that would be wonderful, but otherwise the family is going to have to start eating leftovers again.

Meredith said...

Thanks to everyone for providing the "reality check" on this issue while I was away. Our reader is certainly correct in putting her foot down in a gracious way.

I just wanted to share some strategies for leftovers in the case that it would be helpful to her and anyone else who needs to disguise them.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Meredith, I in no way intended to even seem like I might be rebuking you- I think your suggested strategies were terrific. I just couldn't think of anything else to do, and that guest's misbehavior was so bad I had to rant- but it was about the guest only.