Smorgasbord Night

Let’s take a walk through my family’s normal meal routine.

For three days in a row, we’ll make some sort of meal at home. We’ll have spaghetti or a stir fry or some grilled fish or something else. As I’ve mentioned many times, the actual meals we have tend to depend a lot on what’s in season, what’s coming out of our garden, and what’s on sale this week at the grocery store.

Almost every time, we have somewhere between a half and a third of the food we prepared for the meal left over at the end of the meal. This goes into the refrigerator.

The next day, for lunch, anyone who happens to be around eats some of the leftovers for lunch. Most days, that means me. Many days, Sarah takes some leftovers to lunch with her.

Those leftovers aren’t necessarily what we had the night before. It might be what we had two nights ago, for example, or even three nights ago (as that’s our cutoff for when leftovers have to go).

Every fourth night (roughly), we’re facing three days worth of leftovers in the refrigerator. The oldest of those meals is about to get tossed out for being too old, so we need to do something with it.

So we have smorgasbord night.

It’s pretty simple. We pull all of the leftovers out of the fridge and put them out on the table. Everyone takes what they want and fills their plate, then we microwave that plate.

We usually let the children go first and let them pick whatever they want, then Sarah and I usually eat whatever is the oldest that’s left over.

This works really well. Everyone in our family is happy with smorgasbord night.

Why is everyone happy with leftovers? There are three reasons, really.

First, there’s almost always something that everyone really likes among what’s available. Our children have different food tastes. For the most part, they don’t all like the same things. Smorgasbord night means that they’re able to choose something that they like. As for me, I’m not very picky as long as it doesn’t involve the dreaded sweet potato, so I don’t mind going last when choosing what to eat.

Second, it’s about as cheap as a meal can get. This is excess food that would otherwise go to waste. If we can consume most of it on smorgasbord night, then it’s essentially a free meal for our family.

Third, it requires very little time. It takes about a minute to pull the leftovers out of the fridge. After that, it’s literally a matter of just serving it. There’s virtually no prep time, meaning we can spend the extra time that evening doing other things. Smorgasbord night often seems to line up very well with board game night or other such family activities.

If smorgasbord night makes our family’s evening meal practically free and everyone’s happy with it, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

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