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Intentional leftovers can be a remedy for cooking fatigue

Mixed Grill With Sausages, Vegetables and Corn
Active time:25 mins
Total time:35 mins
Active time:25 mins
Total time:35 mins

Do you cook because you love to cook? Like to cook? Because you need to cook? Maybe a combo of all of the above on different days?

Whatever your answer, these days, cooking is pretty much a necessity. And whatever camp you fall into at any given moment, it’s safe to say that few of us are excited by the thought of making three meals a day from scratch.

How to read a recipe and avoid common cooking pitfalls

So let’s give ourselves a springboard for the next meal and get our minds firmly around the pleasurable concept of the Intentional Leftover.

Here you will find three recipes with a one-two punch. Each meal is prepared with the goal of saving part of the dinner to be reinvented later in the week.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.

Honey-glazed tofu with rice and sautéed spring vegetables turns into a stir-fry. Leftover roasted chicken and vegetables transform into a chicken salad grain bowl. And a mixed grill dinner becomes family-favorite quesadillas. This is the opposite of leftover boredom. In fact, if you don’t point out that meal A was used to make meal B, your family might not even notice.

Make this recipe: Honey-Garlic Tofu With Sauteed Broccoli and Sugar Snap Peas

There’s more: six recipes with a hidden bonus. Each of these meals will serve 4 people, and each of these double-duty recipes clocks in at less than $30 total, so $15 per dinner, less than $4 per person (I’m showing off my math skills; humor me). This includes the extra ingredients you will need to turn the reserved parts of the first dinner, such as tortillas and shredded cheese, into the second meal.

A word to the wise, especially if you have teenagers in the house: Pull off the intentional leftovers from the first meal and stash them in the fridge before you get to the business of serving dinner No. 1. Otherwise, those building-block ingredients may find themselves as lunch in the hands of an unwitting child.

Make this recipe: Sheet Pan Greek Roasted Chicken With Garlic Broccoli and Potatoes

And, while these recipes should give you some ammunition for planning meals, they are also designed to get the old wheels a-churning. Once you embrace the concept of the Intentional Leftover, you’ll use it all the time. Meat sauce will be saved for lasagna, roasted salmon will be reborn as salmon salad, grilled vegetables will fill a frittata.

And do you know who you’ll have to thank for all of this? Your own clever self.

Mixed Grill With Sausages, Vegetables and Corn

You can enjoy all of this dish at once or reserve a portion for a second meal of Sausage and Vegetable Quesadillas, see SECOND MEAL, below.


  • 1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 4 ears corn, shucked and sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces, or quartered
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), stemmed, seeded and sliced into 8 wedges
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon minced or finely grated garlic (1 clove)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh turkey or pork sausage, hot
  • 1 pound fresh turkey or pork sausage, sweet

Step 1

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Step 2

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, corn, bell pepper and onion (the wedges will fall apart and that’s fine) with the olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper until combined.

Step 3

Divide the mixture between the two pieces of foil. Spread out the vegetables so that they are evenly distributed, leaving a 3-inch margin of foil around each sheet. Cover each baking sheet with another piece of foil, and roll and crimp the foil all around the edges to seal. Transfer the packets to the grill.

Step 4

Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes, then add the sausages to the grill. Cook the sausages along with the vegetables for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, opening the grill and turning the sausages every 1 to 2 minutes, so that they brown evenly.

Step 5

When the vegetables are tender and the sausages cooked through, remove them from the grill and carefully open an edge of each packet to let steam escape. Let the sausages sit for about 1 minute, then slice them into chunks. Transfer about a quarter of the sausages and a third of the vegetables to a lidded container and refrigerate for Sausage and Vegetable Quesadillas (see SECOND MEAL, below).

Transfer the remaining sausages and vegetables to a platter and serve.

Step 6

SECOND MEAL: To make Sausage and Vegetable Quesadillas, slice the corn kernels from the pieces you reserved. Chop up the sausages and the vegetables, add the corn, and mix them together (you should have about 2 cups total). Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and place 1 medium flour tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Mexican blend (you’ll need 8 ounces total), 1/4 cup mixed vegetable and sausage mixture, and then another 1/4 cup cheese. Place 1 flour tortilla on top and cook until the bottom has browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the quesadilla and cook until the cheese has melted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat to make a total of 4 quesadillas. Serve with sour cream or salsa, if desired.

Recipes from food writer Katie Workman.

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to

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Servings Per Container: 4; Calories: 601; Total Fat: 44 g; Saturated Fat: 14 g; Cholesterol: 110 mg; Sodium: 1455 mg; Carbohydrates: 22 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 9 g; Protein: 29 g.