Sometimes when I’m not in the mood to fully “cook” I will make a bit of a hodgepodge — sort of like a buffet of grazing foods or I will serve up leftovers. But the leftovers needn’t be all the same thing for everyone, but whatever they want from the choice of foods that we have left over. This way one son might be eating pork, broccoli and pasta and another one bowl full of chili and brown rice and yet another with vegetable soup, pasta and cheese. I use up the left over food and don’t go crazy making 3 different meals, just reheat ones already made. And they usually get what they’re in the mood for and will eat it all.
A more buffet style is putting out cooked and raw vegetables, cheeses, hummus, fruits, and other bits and pieces. Then it’s more of a casual grazing and since all the choices are healthful, I don’t have to worry about the portions since, not only are mine not likely to take a ton of the more calorie-laden foods like cheese, but they’re not likely to pile up their plates with food. Yesterday, my youngest two each had a packet of roasted seaweed, tons of raw carrots and bagels for lunch.
So key here is making sure they get healthy choices even when you’re not really “cooking”.
Here are some tips on reheating those leftovers (especially right now the Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes):
Microwave heating mashed potatoes: add a splash of milk to potatoes and stir with a fork in a microwavable bowl. Heat on high stirring occasionally. You can add gravy after the potatoes are slightly warm.(These mashed are not as fluffy as normal but hopefully you get the idea)
Reheating poultry in the microwave: cover pieces with a damp paper towel and reheat on 80% starting with 1 minute. Flip and move pieces around then repeat until hot. The turkey/chicken/duck won’t be rubbery and dry this way.
For a dinner plate with different items, you’ll want to reheat only those things that are the same (meats, vegetables, grains, etc) as they may take different lengths of time and temperature. I usually put all of one item in a bowl/plate reheating the items that take longest first. Then assembling the plate of food and maybe giving it another 10-20 seconds.
Stews, soups and one-pot meals like chilies and curries can be heated together in the microwave. Some sauces need heating on a stove over medium-low heat, especially cream sauces that would otherwise break.