Friday, August 15, 2008

Use it up....

I have long appreciated the saying,

"Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without"

I try to follow it a lot, using it as a way to challange myself in my homemaking skills. I find it works for clothing,household needs, hobbies, gardening and of course food. I have heard from many others about how hard they find it to use up leftovers and food often ends up going to waste at there house. That can be very hard on the food budget! While I won't say that never happens at our house, I try to make sure it is pretty rare. I thought I would share some of the ways that I use up leftovers at our house.

  • First of all we do eat a lot of our leftovers for lunches. Ken has a microwave at work (where he eats lunch) and he enjoys getting leftovers for his lunch. I also like it when we have leftovers available for lunch at home because that frees up time (when I would need to be cooking) for me. Also leftovers are usually cheaper than sandwiches or something like that would be.
  • If we have a large amount of leftovers from one meal (like enough for another complete supper) I will freeze the leftovers (This works with many meals- not all). Then someday when I am very busy or not feeling well I can just pull out the frozen meal. This is very nice and definitely helps save on money as otherwise I might be tempted to go out to eat or use some more expensive convenience food.
  • If there is something that I don't think we will use right away then I will also freeze that in appropriate amounts for Ken to take to work, then for the days we don't have leftovers I can just pull some out of the freezer.

The above ideas work for when you have a complete leftover, but what about when you have just spaghetti sauce or just the noodles or just the gravy, what then? Below are some of the things that we have enjoyed that use up things like that.

  • Just the other day I was looking through the fridge to find stuff for lunch and clean it out. I found Plain spaghetti noodles, I tiny bit of cream cheese, garbanzo beans, and about 1/2 cup of sausage gravy. I decided to mix all of it together, sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top and heat it up. Guess what? It was quite good, the kids thought so too. A key to using up leftovers is a willingness to be creative and not be afraid to try something new!
  • If you have leftover rice you can make Spanish Rice, Asian Fried Rice or Chicken or Beef and Rice Burritos.
  • If you have leftover spaghetti noodles try melting cheese on top or stir fry some veggies and maybe some meat and serve on top the noodles instead of rice.
  • If you have leftover Spaghetti sauce put it on top of buns or slices of bread to make individual pizzas (add cheese and possible other ingredients as well and heat under a broiler). Or you could add beans and whatever else you want to make Chili soup.
  • If you have leftover mashed potatoes you can make lefse, potato bread, potato pancakes or mix them with a little egg and shredded cheese and make into patties and fry them.
  • For leftover Baked potatoes, make potato soup, potato salad or put in you scrambled eggs (which you could then use for a breakfast burrito).
  • A little leftover Chili soup, serve of Baked potatoes with shredded cheese or over hotdogs. Or mix with rice (preferably brown in my opinion) and cheese for a yummy meal.
  • Leftover hotdogs: use in potato soup or scrambled eggs.
  • Old (but not moldy) bread: make stuffing, croutons or bread pudding.
  • Little bits of veggies: make soup or throw them in a casserole dish or a stir fry.
  • Gravy: Use in soup or a casserole.
  • Oatmeal: include in your bread or pancakes or heat a little oil in a pan and put in big spoonfuls of the cold oatmeal and fry, then serve with honey.
  • Cornmeal mush: Slice up and fry and serve with honey.

There are lots more ways but if I told them all this post would get very long and I wouldn't get anything else done today! :-) I would love to hear ways that you use up leftovers.

Oh, also as I know at this time of year people may be struggling to use up Zucchini, here are a couple of links(here and here) to some previous posts about using them up.

For more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.


ahorne said...

I love your tips - I always feel so accomplished when I come up with a way to reinvent leftovers. :)

Teresa said...

My husband loves bringing leftovers for lunch. While he is eating his homemade spaghetti carbonara, all his coworkers are drooling over his food while they eat their tv dinners.

We also freeze A LOT of our food, and it is amazing how well it works!

Lynn said...

Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

martha said...

We do better at eating up leftovers when Derek is not able to eat a meal with us.
I like to be able to reinvent things too and people enjoy them more. Sometimes they look a little funny but taste great.

Anna said...

Wow...thanks for all the great ideas. It's so fun being creative in the kitchen. Sometimes those interesting combos turn into an unexpected family favorite. :)

Due to a move I wasn't able to get a garden in until just recently, but I'm far enough South that I hope to have zillions of zucchinis soon. :) Definitely going to have to try the chocolate zucchini cake. Sounds too yummy to pass up.

Another way we love zucchini is stuffed. Have you tried it? It's really good!

Audra Krell said...

I have a bowl of spaghetti sauce in the fridge and had no idea what to do with it. My kids are going to LOVE the mini pizzas. Thank you so much, I'm so happy not to waste it for once!

Courtney said...

I love taking scraps and creating new meals or snacks! I've kind of perfected cooking enough to fill up my family so we never really have leftovers but we do often have leftover ingredients. Some recent things I've done with scraps are: Taking chicken patties and cutting them into shapes with cookie cutters. I'll use those for kid-friendly sandwiches and then take the scraps of what I cut off and save them to make a chicken salad. I also like to take leftover veggies (when there's not enough to throw in another meal) and save them for homemade pizzas! yum! Since one homemade pizza usually takes 1/2 jar of sauce, I'll save the extra sauce and toast up some bread (cut into three strips) for breadsticks and sauce. I've also used leftover alfredo sauce in the jar from various noodle recipies and have done the same thing with the toast strips or dipped tortilla chips in it like alfredo nachos.

Katie said...

Abbi, I recognized those mushrooms in your last blog! We can get two kinds of Mushrooms at the store and that is the one that is most available. I was always kind of afraid to use them because they look so strange. Thanks for the tip!

savvysuzie said...

I love using up leftover veggies in a frittata...and I can do it for breakfast, lunch OR dinner! I had a bunch of potatos and carrots from a crockpot dinner the other day, I added a quarter bag of frozen broccoli, a half a diced onion, six eggs mixed with milk, and half a cup of cheddar was YUMMY.

savvysuzie said...

I love using up leftover veggies in a frittata...and I can do it for breakfast, lunch OR dinner! I had a bunch of potatos and carrots from a crockpot dinner the other day, I added a quarter bag of frozen broccoli, a half a diced onion, six eggs mixed with milk, and half a cup of cheddar was YUMMY.

Donielle said...

Great ideas on leftovers! Some days we just have a mix and match day, some days we do a couple of the things you listed, and now some days we can do more!
Thanks for the tips, and thanks for stopping by over at!


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