“Pick a plate of leftovers.” We don’t waste, and we all know it. Five daughters, two stepsons, one stepdaughter, my husband and I, we all know it. Spaghetti, biscuits and gravy, taco meat and cheese on hot Cheetos. Yep. You never know what kind of smorgasbord our supper will be on a leftovers night. Parents will eat what no one else wants. 

I’ve turned into my dad. 

One of two things happened when my mom worked, either Dad would order pizza…or he would combine all kinds of weird ingredients to use up leftovers. 

Dad would invent meals and serve them up without batting an eyelash. It’s called–hot dish surprise. Ohhhh…yeah, we’ve had that one, Dad. Nope, not this one. Ohhh…yay. 

American cheese melted on spaghetti noodles, and he would try to convince us that we liked it. I can think of times I looked around the fridge and cabinets, and thought…there is NO combination of possibilities in here. Tonight HAS to be a pizza night. Don’t be so sure. 

I understand now. Now…I am him. 

If the kids open a new bag of cereal and there’s a bag that isn’t getting finished off, I will dump it into the new bag. This works with chips too. Not all flavor combos will match up nicely. Not my problem. Finish it.

One day the cereal situation was especially ridiculous, maybe 5-6 partial bags. I mixed them all together and made some Rice Krispie treats. Well, no actually I called them– “50 Shades of Cereal Treats.” 

My family may not have liked them, but I promise you–they will never forget them. I can’t think of any other meal or snack that has caused so much laughter and pure joy. Ew, I just got a shredded wheat square in mine. Lucky you; I don’t know what I just crunched up in mine. Eat them. It won’t kill you. 

Since the time I had my first daughter Margaret when I was 21, I only ever lived as a single mom for 5 months. I was 34, had four daughters. And…I was scared to death. I was determined to do anything I had to do. 

I didn’t qualify for Food Stamps because my 4 daughters each have some money in savings, and it totaled just over $2000 combined. I had no idea it would disqualify us, but I wasn’t about to use my girls’ savings. It was just birthday card money and Christmas money from over the years.  God bless anyone who does qualify, and I’m certainly not hating on you. 

You don’t know what you don’t know. And if you’ve never had to think of any option you could to help yourself and kids during tough times, I hope you realize and appreciate how truly blessed you are. 

I did qualify for WIC though, and that was about $40 worth of groceries per month. And I took advantage of it for those 5 months.  WIC was a good program, and helped me plan healthier meals around the ingredients they provided–beans, rice, vegetables. Which…I guess was the point. 

I had to move out of Demetrius’ big house, but I owned an old house that I had fixed up and had been renting out; I had a job; we all had nice clothes; we had food; we had friends. Even in hard times, we honestly had more blessings than we could count. But I’m not going to say I wasn’t worried every single day.

“I don’t know what kinds of changes and sacrifices we will have to make, girls, but just please be understanding as we figure this out together.” All I could think was–I’ll find a way. God will help me, and everything is okay. 

“I don’t care if I can’t get that fancy dress, Mom. Or if I can’t have a phone. I don’t care. I just want you to be happy again, and I understand.” Margaret isn’t a daughter who cries or hugs much. But I’ll never forget her crying and hugging me that day.

I called my siblings, and I called my parents, and I organized a plan where we all chipped in to get Margaret this expensive dress that she had wanted for cotillion. The dress she told me  she didn’t care if she got anymore. 

I got it for her birthday present. And she looked beautiful. She actually got voted Queen, and those kids couldn’t have chosen a more grateful, deserving girl for that honor. 

I’m remarried now. We still eat leftovers regularly, and it’s my insistence. And they might laugh or tease about the combinations. 

But…no one complains.

Queen Margaret

One thought on “Leftovers

  1. Leftover night is a regular occurrence for my small family too. I spend too much time, money and care planning healthy meals to then throw out what isn’t eaten. A great influence for your girls and boys to witness.

    Liked by 1 person

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