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5 Ways to Use Up Leftovers

I’m very excited to announce that in four weeks, on Wednesday, October 8th, Lori Atwood of Lori Atwood-Fearless Finance and I will be hosting a WEBINAR on money and food called 30 Minutes/$30: How to Spend Less and Eat Better in Less Time (sign up here!). So to get you excited to join us for this awesome event, I will be doing a 4-part series on ways to save money in the kitchen.

The first topic I am going to tackle is the hatred of leftovers. We all know that cooking once and then eating the leftovers can not only save you time but also money, but many people hate leftovers and so the idea of cooking a big meal to use throughout the week is just not going to work… Maybe it is because your parents served the same thing night after night, maybe it is because you want something new every night, or maybe it just grosses you out.  No matter what the reason, there are some ways to overcome this aversion and take advantage of what you’ve got.


black bean salad

Here are my top 5 ways to make leftovers work for you:

1)   Freezer for later. Before you even serve the first serving out onto a plate, put some aside for freezing to eat in 2 or 3 weeks’ time. This works well is soups, stews, sauces, beans, and even casseroles (in the case of casseroles, divide it into two baking dishes and freeze one either before or after you bake it).  An often unknown secret about these types of foods is that they often end up tasting better after they have sat for a while, whether in your fridge or freezer, this is because the flavors have more time to combine and deepen. If you hate leftovers, you probably don’t know this little perk…

2)   Change the flavor up. If you had a pasta with sauce and parmesan one night, maybe add some different cheese (e.g., feta or mozzarella) or another protein to the mix the second. If you had soup with bread and cheese one night, maybe have soup with rice mixed in or hot sauce the next. Condiments, cheeses, and a change of protein or grain can make the meal seem new again.

3)   Repurpose the food. Turning the leftovers into something else can be a quick and easy way to make them more palatable. Leftover chicken, steak, or fish can easily become part of a filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or a pot pie. They can also become part of a stir fry, fried rice, or a hearty salad. Remaining tomato or pesto sauce can become the sauce for a pizza. Extra stew can make a great filling for a pot pie, shepard’s pie, or pastry pockets. Leftover grains can make a great salad, fried rice, or part of veggie burgers. Remaining beans are wonderful in soups, veggie burgers, or quesadillas. You get the idea…

4)   Start a leftovers club. Have a friend or friends who also hate leftovers? Maybe you could each make a meal, divide in half, and then share with one another for the next night.

5)   Lunch for someone else. If someone in your family doesn’t mind leftovers (a partner or kid), take advantage and send it in their lunch.

So, please join us on October 8th at 7:30pm for 30 Minutes/$30 and in the meantime, I’d love to hear your ways to make leftovers work for you!

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