Q: We have a lot of leftovers that seem to go to waste. Do you have any suggestions?
A: The best way to ensure that you are using leftovers is to be very intentional about it.
Add “leftover-friendly” recipes to the menu.
Many recipes work particularly well for incorporating leftovers. For example, leftover vegetables and chicken can become a yummy stir fry served over rice. You can use leftover meat, cheese and veggies to make an omelette as well.
Fruit and yogurt can become a smoothie. You can also try this recipe for leftover oatmeal or make this easy rice “pudding” with leftover rice.
Use your freezer.
After each meal, put any leftover food into the freezer as soon as possible. Leftover entrees like lasagna or roast beef can be frozen in individual containers and taken for lunches later in the week.
You can add vegetables to a “soup” container in the freezer. Once every couple of weeks, throw the veggies, some chicken stock and canned tomatoes into the crock pot on Sunday mornings and serve your veggie soup with grilled cheese for an easy dinner.
We always freeze our bananas once they reach the “just past ripe” stage and the kids eat them plain like a banana-sicle, or we throw them in the blender with other fruit and a little milk or yogurt to make homemade popsicles.
Plan leftover night once a week.
Once a week, make a “buffet” of all the leftovers from dinner that week. You can have everyone try a little of everything or let each family member choose their favorites. If you only have a small amount of leftovers, you can add something like pasta and salad to help fill everyone up.
Another great idea is to use leftovers in quesadillas. Add veggies, meat and cheese inside and make dinner in ten minutes or less.
How do you use leftovers? Leave a comment. 🙂
You May Also Enjoy:
Diane Gasaway says
We have “go to” recipes for using up odds and ends. Curry, fried rice, veggie soup, homemade pizza, soups, and stir fry can use up most leftover meats and veggies, with some additions. Amy Dacyzn’s muffin recipe incorporates a leftover fruits and cooked grains.
Wow these are excellent ideas!!! I absolutely am starting my soup bucket in the freezer tonight. Such a simple solution!!!
I am trying to pare down my grocery budget and I feel horrible when food goes in the trash whether it is leftovers or just food that was left too long in the refrigerator and has spoiled.. its like throwing money in the trash!!! So, now that it is 2013 I am trying to streamline this process: spend less and also waste less!
Thanks for your ideas. I just learned about your blog last week or so ago and I love it!!
Welcome Kerry! Glad you like the blog. 🙂
We take the last bit of all of the left over cereals that aren’t quite enough for a bowl and combine them to make a fun version of rice crispy bars.
Ooh! Great idea Landrey!
We don’t have kids so my husband and I eat all of our leftovers! We aren’t picky and I don’t have to worry about trying to make something creative with leftovers, we just eat the same meal again! I intentionally make meals that I know will have leftovers because it takes less time to prepare, and it’s cheaper to just make a bigger meal than it is to make two separate meals. When I plan out all my meals, I usually try to stagger them so that we don’t eat the same thing two nights in a row. For example, beef stroganoff on Monday and Wednesday and then I’ll throw in something without leftovers on Tuesday.
Thank you for the veggie soup suggestion! We actually have a vegetable garden this summer, and I’m running out of ideas of how to cook them before they go bad (specifically, my eggplant and squash). Plus, I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. While my kids ate their lunches this afternoon, I chopped them up quickly, put them in a veggie container, and I think Friday night, a night when I HATE to cook, I’m making a big old pot of soup!
You can also use your frozen bananas to make banana bread! They turn black in the freezer but they are perfect for the bread. 🙂
I wondered about the fruit changing colors…does anyone know if adding a little lemon would help or if it would really change the flavor of something like a banana in Danie’s instance.
My husband buys bananas in bulk and sometimes a few get pretty spotty and mushy. I was thinking of freezing them but I don’t want them to turn black!!
I have never had my bananas turn black as long as I put them in zipper freezer bags and squeeze all of the air out. If you are going to use them in a smoothie or baking I don’t know that the color would matter much anyway, but I have never had that problem.
The skin to the banana turns black, but the insides (for me at least) never have. I don’t take them out of the skin or wrap them up. I just toss them in the freezer until I have enough for a recipe.
I had trouble peeling them later when I put them in the freezer with the peel on so I peel them and place them in a zipper freezer bag.
You are very welcome Sara!
I plan for leftovers….I try to only cook 2 or 3 big meals/week, then use the leftovers for the rest of the week. A roast beef becomes 3 meals…the first one with gravy and veggies. I save a dry piece of the beef to shred and simmer in bbq sauce for sandwiches…finally, the leftover beef, gravy and veggies becomes a beef stew.
I make meatball hoagies the night after a spaghetti and meatball dinner. The leftover sauce can be used for Chicken Parm….or in a chicken caccitori. Any leftovers from the chicken caccitori can be added to a pot of chili.
Grilled chicken can be used in so, so many ways! On a pita with hummus…., as the protein in a big salad…or made into chicken salad…I could go on and on! Don’t even get me started on Ham!!!
i try my best to use up left overs once or twice a week. small amounts of meats and veggies are great for fried rice. left over oatmeal or rice can help make hearty pancakes; you can even throw in some over ripe fruit in the batter. a lot of left over items can also be tossed into bread doughs, salads, soups, stir fries, and used as pizza toppings. and a “buffet” dinner every once in a while is fun as well
we love leftovers! send them to husband’s work for lunch or eat them with the kids for lunch at home the next day. have a leftover smorg for dinner once or so a week where everyone gets to pick what they want. or use leftover meat in stirfry, hot sandwiches, cut up in salads. leftover starches (potatoes, rice, pasta, quinoa), i melt cheese overtop in the microwave and serve as a lunch or breakfast. leftover veggies cut up in a salad or covered in cheese sauce. or served cold in a vinaigrette as a new dish.
I love having a buffet dinner. We do it once a week: the night before the garbage truck comes!
Lauren @ The Tornadic Kitchen says
These are some great tips! I recently discovered your blog and I’m loving your posts so far. I’ve been working on cutting down on our grocery bill so these ideas help me a whole bunch!