Kathleen Norton

For the love of leftovers

Posted on: January 21, 2011

This 'vintage' roast is delicious!

Marriage vows are heavy on the “L’’ word, which is all fine and dandy.

“I love you. You love me. ‘Til death do us part. Yada, yada, yada.”

But does anyone mention the other “L’’ word? The one that has been known to wreak havoc on marriages since the beginning of time?

I refer to “leftovers’’ – last night’s meatloaf, Monday’s pot roast, Saturday’s spaghetti.

Toss or save? Reheat or chuck?

How a bride and grooms works out those dilemmas tells more about their compatibility and odds of surviving marriage than any Love Quiz that Cosmo Magazine can invent.

Yet, nobody warns them that the honeymoon period for every couple ends the night they find themselves going head to head in front of the fridge over 9-day-old lasagna.

One thinks that lasagna is ”vintage.” The other thinks it is fungus.

One argues: ‘“We’ve got to stretch the food budget.’’ The other replies: “Yes, but food is not Spandex.’’

It is a story as old as time.

It’s well documented that a cave woman invented fire solely so she could warm up last night’s din-din.

But her caveman had other ideas.

“Old meat bad!’ he roared when the remains of a wooly mammoth roast became a minced mammoth casserole.

“Old meat good!’’ she roared back. “And if you don’t like it, invent a PBJ. Knock yourself out!’’

Sadly, things have not changed much and “tossers” always seem to end up marrying “savers.”

Leftovers are always a sore subject in our house, and I wish pre-marital counseling had broached this touchy topic.

We could have done “rock-paper-scissors’’ on other things – like whether we wanted to bring other humans into the world or who would control the checkbook.

In those areas, things have turned out fine.

But we’ve never been able to find a middle ground on the nights when I wanted to toss every leftover in the fridge into one big bowl, add grated cheese and dig in.

I will admit that early in our marriage, I gave my leftover creation an unfortunate name.

“It’s ‘Garbage Salad,’ ‘’ I chirped, thinking I was so clever. “Yum!’’

“I cannot eat anything with the word ‘garbage’ in it,’’ he pronounced and knew he had married a woman who enjoyed the very thing that made him gag: Unidentifiable aging food in little plastic containers.

You should see us on “Clean Out The Fridge Day.’’

“Save,’’ I say to everything. “Toss,’’ he says at the same time.

It’s a real hoot.

We’ve tried to adjust. I’ve gotten better at hiding leftovers in creative dishes, casseroles and soups. And he’s gotten better at throwing leftovers away when I am out of the house.

So let this be a warning to all the young couples out there.

Go on and talk about future kids. Talk about money.

Talk where you’ll go on Thanksgiving and whether her mother can clean the bathroom every time she visits.

But for the sake of your love, don’t forget to work this out, too:

Just how many encores are acceptable for the Sunday chicken dinner.


3 Responses to "For the love of leftovers"

We don’t have “leftovers” in our house…..we have “ENCORE PRESENTATIONS!”

I used to think it was fine that my spouse didn’t eat leftovers. It took me more than 25 years to realize that meant that we had a new daily argument…..who was going to cook. We solved it by immediately freezing all leftovers and pretending its Stouffers, Banquet or my particular favorite Marie Callenders Mystery Meat Tenders. Kids have a great time guessing what we are having for dinner while we are eating it!!

As a “the-only-one-at-home” person, I get to do whatever I want. Great stuff. I’m glad I found you.

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