Don’t talk about leftovers to Judy Toth. The chef, caterer and owner of Simply Impressive Cooking School, located inside her northeast Mesa home, never sends her husband to work with a cold scoop of last night’s dinner between two slices of bread.
“If I sent him to work with a plain sandwich, he would fall over and die,” Toth says of her husband, Steve Toth Jr., who works for the city of Mesa.
Instead, she creates a new meals with a few creative tweaks to whatever is in the fridge, often starting with the previous night’s meal. “The words I use for this kind of lunch is ‘planned leftovers,’ meaning I make extra and plan to use it for another meal,” says Toth. “That way it’s not really a leftover at all.”
For instance, broiled chicken becomes chicken salad with chunks of apple. London broil gets sliced and spread across a salad of vegetables and greens. And sandwiches get some oomph from pesto mixed with mayonnaise or a spoonful of apple cranberry chutney.
“So you cook once and then get two meals out of it,” she says. Besides, “I don’t know many people who spend 30 minutes cooking a lunch.”
She takes some pride in that her husband’s co-workers often come over to check out his daily lunch. “His leftovers are better than many people’s dinners,” she says.