Secrets of a Primal Cook: Leftovers

I’m a pretty busy person.  I’m up around 4:30 on week days, and average 12 to 13 hours away from home between work and my commute (Karen, as a mother, trainer, and medical transcriptionist, has an even longer work day, since hers is basically from when she wakes up to when she crawls into bed).  During that time away, I have to fend and forage for myself.  Now, even if my schedule allowed, I never was a fan of spending money to go out for lunch every day.  And after making the switch to Primal, it became even more difficult to justify, given the less-than-ideal food choices out there at most “lunch” places.
So, if I don’t eat bread (goodbye bologna and American cheese sandwiches on Wonder bread), and I don’t go out to eat (goodbye Big Mac’s and pepperoni pizza by-the-slice), and I don’t take more than about 25 minutes in the morning to shower, get dressed, and gather up a whole 12-hour day’s worth of nutrition, what do I eat for lunch?!
Simple: Leftovers.  They are far and above the fastest and tastiest thing I can think of to throw in my lunch cooler and head out the door with in the morning.  And since they were made in my kitchen, I also know that they fit into my lifestyle as well – without the need for any special requests or substitutions.  While the rest of the crew is eating Hot Pockets or Lean Cuisine, and the office staff are running over to Subway, I’m pulling out a saved Chicken Cordon Bleu and a big salad from the night before.  Or making up my own Teriyaki Tuna Lettuce “Tacos” with the leftovers from my Sesame Ginger Tuna and Wasabi Teriyaki Sauce (with a side of Melon Pineapple Salsa of course).  Or perhaps digging into my Spaghetti Squash and a leftover salad.  And that’s just a sampling.
Now, of course I don’t just grab a serving of leftovers and call it good for 12-hours away from the house.  I supplement with other easy-to-pack items.  A carrot or two, half an avocado, a container full of some mixed nuts with dried fruit, or a handful of the little “bite sized” bell peppers are all good ways to handle a quick snack part-way through morning or the afternoon.  But the bulk of my lunch packing involves whatever was on the table the night before.

Leftover Chicken Cordon Bleu

Teriyaki Tuna Lettuce

Spaghetti Squash with sauce and a salad

The trick in doing this is the make sure you make enough at meal time to have leftovers.  And that involves getting used to how much your family typically eats at dinner, and identifying who is going to be wanting to have leftovers the following day for lunch.  Then, simply make sure to adjust your recipes to cover the number of servings you need.  Here’s an example:
At our house, the kids typically end up eating combined roughly one adult serving.  Karen and I will each eat a single serving at dinner.  I’m typically the only one packing a lunch in the morning, and one serving will get me through the day until dinner time.  Now, assuming that my math is correct (and I’m not missing any fingers), I count that out to four servings.  So, I simply target four adult-sized servings for dinner, and that will leave me with enough for lunch the next day.
Based that example, you’ll find that most of the main dish recipes we post here will provide around 4 servings.  Sometimes, you’ll get a bit more, and sometimes you’ll end up with a bit less – we’ll try to identify those recipes that vary from the “average” by more than 1/2 serving or so.  Of course, appetites and portions do differ, so your results may vary from ours.  Which is why I encourage you to do more than just read this site and drool – but to actually get in the kitchen and give it a try!
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One response to “Secrets of a Primal Cook: Leftovers

  1. Karen and Casey,

    I love this particular post. Since I am a bus driver I know all about packing every thing for a long days work. I find I am constantly cooking something in large quantity since I often take two meals a day to work and often am away from home for 10-plus hours! I love your blog and can’t wait to try the Almond Spice Cake as well as many other recipes. For now, I seem to just “throw together” meat and veggies into a large skillet and add whatever seasonings I have on hand rather than measure anything for a “recipe”. But soon I will try some of your’s. Thank you for this great contribution!