Mystery meal can become culinary delight


Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension

It’s time to eat. You open the fridge and find some brown rice, a small piece of meat, some leftover vegetables or all of the above. How can this possibly become a meal? Here are some tips on converting a mystery meal of leftovers into a culinary delight.

Start by considering what you have available. To minimize the grocery bill and prevent food from being wasted, check the leftovers first (but keep food safety guidelines in mind). Then see what is on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Look for interesting ways to combine what you already have.

  • Choose a vegetable or combination of vegetables. Fresh, frozen or canned, vegetables are good sources for many nutrients.
  • Add a starch. It could be a starchy vegetable like potatoes or dried beans, or a grain like brown rice, whole wheat pasta or couscous.
  • Include a little meat, fish or eggs for some protein.
  • Dairy foods can be included to flavor the meal or as part of a sauce.

Next look for the spices, sauce or condiments that will make the ordinary meal into something extraordinary. Keep in mind that sauces can be ready-to-eat like a jar of spaghetti sauce, or easy-to-create by using ingredients on hand like cottage cheese or stewed tomatoes…

For additional tips, read the full version of this article at


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