How to Use Leftover Steak

How to Use Leftover Steak

Leftovers.  The very word conjures up shudders for many North Americans (arguably silly considering that we have such an overabundance of food that we have the luxury of throwing away things we’re “bored” of eating–but that’s a rant for a different day!).  Let’s face it–how often have we turned up a lip at the thought of eating the same thing two nights in a row or left a container full of food remnants festering in our fridge until they were past their prime and had to be pitched?  Well, with a little creative thinking, leftovers don’t have to be the doldrums (and definitely don’t have to end up destined for the dump!).  If you’re not a fan of eating day-old repeats for whatever reason (tired of it, texture seems off, dries out when reheated), I’m hoping that this blog–over the course of the next few posts or months–can change your mind about your food scraps and remnants.

Saving, re-heating, or re-purposing your food scraps is smart for a few reasons.  Firstly, for those of you who have a problem with letting food go to waste for philosophical or ethical reasons (think: your mom’s rhetorical speech about the starving kids in Somalia), then using every bit of food in your fridge or pantry, including the leftovers, will leave your conscience feeling light and airy.  Secondly, if you hate wasting money above all else, chucking less food in the garbage also means throwing less money away, too.  Every time you throw away food–especially expensive bits like meat trimmings, or that last 1/4 pan of meatloaf that you just didn’t feel like eating for the third time–you’re casting dollar bills in the garbage alongside it.  Finally, once you begin to see leftovers as a time-saving, money-saving treasure, you’ll realize they’re one of your best luxury items on nights where the mere thought of cooking completely from scratch leaves you wanting to feed your family a bowl full of Cheerios for dinner instead.

Sure, some leftovers are delicious served reheated the next day (we’ve all got our personal favorites).  In our household, we fight over leftover pizza, or chili, or shepherd’s pie (in fact, if you’re the primary cook in your household, you definitely know that sometimes things actually taste better the second day when you haven’t just spent your entire afternoon smelling them beforehand).  However, we also all have those cast-offs that we’d really rather not microwave and eat over again.  Steak is a great personal example for me.  The night it’s served, hot and juicy off the barbeque, is a very special (rare!) night in our household.  There’s nothing better on a sunny summer evening than a tender steak served up with a baked potato and grilled veggies!  Likewise, there’s almost nothing worse than reheating that same lovely steak in the microwave for lunch the next day.  In the process, it turns into a leathery old shoe sole that even my best knives have trouble sawing their way through.  However, who’s going to throw away a perfectly terrific (expensive!) cut of steak (or, if you’re slightly more benevolent, feed it to the dogs! ;)?  At our house, we have come up with the perfect day-after solution to a glorious evening of barbequed steak: philly cheesesteak sandwiches.  If you play your cards just right, you can do all your shopping in advance so that you have two lovely meals that piggyback off one another (the second one very inexpensively!) and spare you nearly all labour the second time around.

Two-Day Grocery List:

- enough steak to feed your family for one dinner, plus 1-2 additional portions

- 2-4 peppers (assorted colors)

- any other sides (potatoes, salad) you’d like with the BBQ dinner (only as much as you need)

- a bag of hotdog or panini buns

- one white onion

- small brick of your favorite melting cheese (we use inexpensive “marble”)

- on-hand oil, salt & pepper, spices, BBQ sauce

Day One– Dinner: BBQ’d Steak and Sides :

  1. Barbeque enough steak for you and your family/guests.  Throw 1-2 extra steaks on the grill with the sole purpose of re-using them tomorrow.
  2. Serve your steaks with a healthy side portion of grilled peppers (we brush our pepper segments with olive oil and Montreal Steak Spice)–enough to have leftovers for tomorrow as well.
  3. If you’d like to also have potatoes/salad, make only enough for tonight, so as not to waste any food.


Day Two– Lunch or Dinner: Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches:

  1. Pull out leftover steak and grilled peppers from the fridge.  Slice them up, as thinly as possible.  Also slice up one white onion.  Slice your cheese as thinly as possible.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the onion slices with oil or butter and sautee until slightly carmelized.  Add in sliced leftover grilled peppers and sautee to warm them through.
  3. In a second frying pan, sautee a small handful of steak strips (just to warm through).  Immediately lay a few slices of cheese over your cluster of beef strips in the pan, allowing it to melt down in the pan.  At this point, you can also warm or toast the buns if you wish.
  4. Using a wide spatula, pick up your entire beef/cheese pile and place it on your split bun.  Drizzle with BBQ sauce and scoop the onion/pepper mixture on top.  Close up bun and enjoy!