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Episode 30: The Art of Intentional Leftovers

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Intentional leftovers, dubbed nextovers by our guest David Tamarkin, the digital director of Epicurious and author of the cookbook Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals, are not a happy accident, but the extras you make intentionally while cooking one dinner for the express intention of turning them into a different dinner on another night. Cooking the first night takes the usual amount of time, but cooking on the nextover night takes a fraction of the time.

How’s that for a busy parent game changer?

In this episode, David breaks down how to master intentional leftovers, which live in a magical space between meal planning and meal prepping. He includes how to stock a pantry to become a nextover ninja and the kinds of recipes that are best for creating intentional leftovers. David even discusses how nextovering (yes, we’ve made it a verb) can initiate a cooking cycle that works, even on your busiest weeks when cooking seems impossible. Because he’s clearly our hero.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Meal plan? Meal prep? Or intentional leftovers? David Tamarkin of Epicurious stopped by the Didn't I Just Feed You podcast to discuss Nextovers and all the rest with Stacie and Meghan on their food podcast for families

Longtime listeners might remember that Meghan is team meal planning while Stacie has become a meal prepper since her kids have grown and have less predictable schedules. But could intentional leftovers be the best of both worlds? Guest David Tamarkin, digital director of Epicurious and author of the cookbook Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals, thinks so.

Deep into a 30-day cooking challenge dubbed COOK90, David found that making intentional leftovers, which he dubbed nextovers, was an essential component of a healthy kitchen eco-system that allowed for long stints of joyous cooking and quick weeknight meals. Once that clicked, he never looked back —for himself or for us. He’s a nextovers evangelist and we beckon you to his flock with us.

Okay, that sounds weird. But seriously, the concept is a game changer and he lays it all out in this episode.

At their core, intentional leftovers are a form of batch cooking, but a really pragmatic form that does not require you to cook for three hours on a Sunday afternoon. That’s why we love them so much for busy parents. Here’s how they work: While baking sweet potatoes for tonight’s dinner, throw in a few extra. Doing so takes no additional time and those extra will serve as the foundation for dinner later in the week without you having to roast potatoes again. Major time saved!

Though very simple by design, mastering nextovers may take some practice. The major keys are knowing which ingredients can both easily be batch cooked and serve as a foundation for dinner, and understanding how to reheat elements to create a delicious new meal that works well with what you have on hand. David talks us through these challenges, shares tons of recipe ideas, and so much more. He also promises that you’ll get the hang of it. And we believe him.

And PS: When you first start cooking with intentional leftovers in mind, keep it simple. You can never go wrong with roasted veggies, a roast bird or poached chicken, and a pot of grains. So be sure to include these elements in your meal plan or prep for next week… if you’re still doing either after listening to our interview with David!

David Tamarkin, Digital Director of Epicurious and author of the Cook90 cookbook: Interview on the Didn't I Just Feed You food podcast for parents

All About: David Tamarkin

If you can’t tell already, we love David and his smart approach to cooking for busy people. And no wonder given his experience. David is the digital director of Epicurious and the author of Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals. His words and recipes have appeared in Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, Gourmet, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food Network Magazine, the Guardian, Details, Time Out New York, and Time Out Chicago, where he was the food editor for many years.

You can — should! — follow David on Instagram where he is @davidtamarkin and serves up tons of tips and delicious food, including his nextover meals.

Are there other approaches to cooking dinner that have worked for you?

Let us know on Facebook, where you can find us as @didntijustfeed. If you’re a listener and know the answer to the secret question, you can also join our Listener’s Group to get exclusive tips, recipes, giveaways, and more!

Try This @ Home

Photo: Joe Lingeman for Kitchn

We skipped a lightening round this week because David asked our listeners to do him a favor and report back.

He recently baked his favorite skillet cookie from the Cook90 cookbook with a 9-year-old and a misstep on his sous chef’s part may have made the recipe… better?!

Needing to know for sure, David asked DIJFY listeners to test the recipe to see what worked best.

Here is some of what our Listener’s Group had to say about David’s Cinnamon Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie :

  • Andrea B. was the first to jump on this recipe, baking it in a 10-inch skillet and bravely serving a new-to-her recipe to guests. “Update: It was so good!!!”

  • Denise N. baked hers in a 10-inch pie plate. “No regrets, but I’d call this a blondie over a cookie. Mine was still kind of moist in the middle, but tasted great!”

  • Meghan, our resident baker, of course tried both a 10- and 12-inch skillet. Her official take-away: Bake this in a smaller skillet and you get a cookie with a gooey middle that is begging for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Perfect!

    Join our Listener’s Group for more details!

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