Leftovers: Saving Food to Save Money

Some leftovers are great, even hoped for. Go to any college dorm room and you’re likely to hear the argument that pizza is in fact better the second day. Uneaten pasta is also delicious and soups seem to become even more flavorful as they sit. These are the exceptions that prove the rule, however. More often than not last night’s delicious dinner sounds far from appealing the following day. Leftovers are important, though. One of the best ways to save money is to avoid wasting anything, including your food. Whether you’re in the shopping or cooking stage, plan for unfinished meals. They’ll save you money and trips to the store. Think about which foods make for the most enjoyable second-time meals. Here are a few ideas for leftover cuisine that will keep your bank and your taste buds happy.

I have leftover meat, but don’t want to eat the same thing I had yesterday…

Enjoy a grilled chicken dinner recently? Chicken is one of the most versatile foods, and is a fond friend of leftover recipes. The options are endless! By changing its form, you’ll forget you’re eating the same thing. A chicken pita for lunch or chicken potpies for dinner are fun ways to use your leftovers. Don’t forget about the very easy chicken quesadilla, as well.

If you were a little over-confident of your hunger when grilling up some steak, don’t feel like you need to finish it all in one sitting. Steak can be a great leftover when used in a stew, on a salad or sliced and heated for a great fajita dinner. Similarly, any leftover kebab can be used the following morning with a couple eggs for a gourmet kebab omelet. If you cooked up more ground beef than you needed, it can easily be added to chips and cheese for some great nachos. It is also a main ingredient of the cheap shepherd’s (or cottage) pie, a long-time member of the leftover meal Hall of Fame.

My bread is going stale! Help!

Just because your bread is starting to go slightly stale and wouldn’t make for the greatest sandwich doesn’t mean it needs to be laid to rest in the kitchen garbage can. Bread that is slightly past its prime can still serve a purpose as a great French toast breakfast. It can also be the base of a sweet bread pudding dessert or homemade baked croutons, seasoned to your preference. If purchased food can still be used, there is money to be saved!

What can I do with all of these vegetables?

If you find yourself with a good amount of vegetables that somehow continue to avoid being eaten, there are some simple ways to add them to a meal. Just about any vegetables can be sautéed and eaten with rice or added to the aforementioned shepherd’s pie. Veggies can also become a great casserole or quiche. You were thinking healthy when you were shopping and purchased the vegetables. Don’t let them go to waste! There are plenty of nutritious and tasty ways they can be used before they go bad.

My fruit is overripe but I don’t want to throw it away. What can I do?

Fruits usually have a pretty short lifespan. If you notice that some of your fruits are becoming a little soft and decreasingly less appetizing, consider throwing them in a blender for a healthy and refreshing fruit smoothie. A banana that is starting to become slightly past ripe can make for some great banana bread. Whatever you do, don’t throw them away!

Warning!

Before you start emptying the Tupperware for a masterpiece leftover recipe, be sure that everything is okay to eat. While saving money is great, food poisoning is not. If the food looks questionable or if you’re not sure if the food is safe to eat anymore, throw it out. Try to get rid of your leftovers within a couple days to be on the safe side. Remember: stale bread can make for great French toast, but moldy bread can make you throw up violently. Just be smart!

Does your family have any great ways to use leftover food? Share your recipes here!