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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wasted leftovers, any advice?

Our family does not do well with leftovers, because, I guess we forget about them.  So we waste a lot of food, which makes us feel so bad.  Wasted money down the drain, wasted food, etc.  As many of you know, I have been working evenings so that I can homeschool the kids during the day, while Amy works.  To say it's been a juggle is an understatement.  But one of the reasons we are going through this season in our family is to beome more financially responsible and more honoring to the Lord.  This pile of wasted food flies in the face of our goals!  Any tips on how to avoid this problem?

Chucking leftovers and the money that went to buy them definitely does not work for us.  Asking the good people stopping by from WFMW at We Are That Family if they have any suggestions. 


  1. My husband isn't very good at eating the same thing two days running, so last night, for example, I made a big pot of chicken and we had half of it for dinner. Rather than leaving the rest to die in the fridge I straight away box it up and put it in the freezer. That way I've got dinner to go on another day when I don't want to cook, just take it out in the morning and leave to defrost, and then reheat, easy peasy!

  2. When I was growing up my mom would cook 2-3 days in a row and then the next night was "everyone eat a leftover" night. Great way to clear out the fridge (and save you from cooking!) If you meal plan you could even write in "leftovers" on the menu for a couple nights a week.

  3. I like to keep a glad container in my freezer that I put leftover vegatables in after we eat. Things like corn, peas, green beans, etc. Then when I have a full container I can use them in soup. My guys are good about eating the leftover meat and potatoes, but not so much the veggies, so this way they don't go to waste and I don't have to buy veggies to go in my soups:-)

  4. I have certain meals that simply could not even BE with OUT the use of left overs...
    We ONLY ever eat fried rice with left overs...
    Left over steamed rice... left over meat (never use taco meat for this.. it just .. does not work>..bbq will, left over chicken) we like some fresh scrambled eggs, left over corn, frozen peas, or left over..etc... its a blast!
    another LEFT over only supper is with left over rice stir it up in oil till hot, add some tomato sauce.. (a wee bit left over tomato soup works too), then add some left over beans.. pinto or black work best... then left over corn, and left over taco meat... left over onions minced from perhaps a brat night, and some left over cheese from a chili night and you get the idea.. you have a fiesta bowl... toss in that left over chili too if you want..

    when planning a "left over night" I try to "reinvent it" never redoing it.. I can't re-invent spagetti, so I would rather make meatballs the first time around...actually that is a lie..
    meatballs are a second round meal..left over rice...
    mixed with fresh meat.. some chopped carrots, cabbage.... onion (left over is fine) etc... mince fine with toss in a bowl mix with an egg to bind with the left over rice... then season.. and brown in cast iron pan till brown.. then bake till ready..
    i make as many of these as i can depending on how much rice and beef/turkey I have on hand...
    (having added veggies keeps it tasty and moist as well as interesting and nutritional)
    then we have on the go meals...
    one or two on a hoagie is fabulous
    one or two on a bowl of spagetti makes me fantastic..
    then...we get down to that last one or two
    we are 6 people! what's a mom to do? smash them up, add some sauce, throw in some noodles and watch it stretch, add some bread sticks, and a salad, and walla, that is like How many meals???
    have fun..
    just remember group your left overs...
    think ahead... buttered veggies don't make it into the next meal as well as unbuttered... they can all get dumped into a soup later.. left over chicken can become a soup, and those veggies can be added to that..
    left over black beans go nicely with salsa & cream cheese for a great snack mid day for kids who can handle dairy..
    and we've learned that having scotch tape near by to label makes the difference... you might not KNOW what that ?is ... and saving even that small amount of onion might matter when later you have none, it is often that smidge of "something" that might be all you need to make an ordinary meal,a terrific meal on a wacky night :)

  5. Those are great suggestions above...here are a few more.

    1. Can you make less food? Totally not trying to be obnoxious here...but if you find certain recipes leave you with a ton left over, can you cut the recipe in half?
    2. I echo the freezer suggestion. If it is something that can be frozen and you are pretty sure you are not going to eat the leftovers the following day (like for lunch) then freeze it after dinner. I do this immediately with lasagna. I know when I make lasagna, my husband and I are only able to eat about 1/2 the pan (that includes eating some leftover the following day.) So after dinner, I cut up the lasagna in single-serving pieces, wrap and freeze. Then we have something tasty and quick to reheat for lunch or dinner in a hurry...and when we do reheat, we are not reheating another 1/2 pan which requires left-over eating. Chili, spaghetti sauce, etc all freeze well.
    3. Plan to make something different with the leftovers. For example, if you have left-over chili...you can use the chili as a topping for baked potatoes or hotdogs with other veges or make loaded nachos for a fresh meal. We cut our big steaks in 1/2...we make beef and broccoli with 1/2 the meat and eat steak with the other half. We buy a whole chicken and cut it up and grill it. One night we have grilled chicken, the next night, I'll use the leftovers for chicken and dumplings or chicken quesadillas, etc.

    Honestly, it just comes down to planning. Pay attention to the meals your family likes to eat (and the frequency...most families eat the same dishes every couple weeks)...pay attention to the meals that seem to yield the most left overs...then think about you can make that something you will be excited to eat again. Plan for that. We menu plan 1 week at a time. Anything beyond that is too tedious and inflexible for our life...you just have to figure out what will work for you. Good luck.

  6. WowWow, some great great suggestions! Thank you all :) It's a little tricky because we're only all together on Saturdays and Sundays, so sometimes my wife makes dinner, and makes a leftover plate for me to eat the next day for lunch, and then I forget to eat that, or what the kids are having looks good, etc. I think we will try to do some better planning, and for certain things MAKE LESS! Great ideas!

  7. I echo the "freeze EVERYTHING" sentiment, and also freezing entrees in single-serve portions for a quick grab-and-go lunch at work on a future date. Leftover rice can be frozen and you can make it into fried rice later. Leftover chicken can be frozen and thrown into a soup, casserole, or quiche later.

    The other HUGE part of less wasted food is good, purposeful menu planning. One night's grilled chicken can be used in other dishes later in the week. If I know I'm buying a big bag of carrots, then I'll plan to use some in a salad on Monday, in a soup on Tuesday, etc...also scope out the fridge before doing the menu planning to see what really needs to be incorporated into the week's plan to prevent it from going bad!

    You'll get good at it, it takes some practice though!

  8. We eat the same thing over and over until it's gone. When we menu plan, we figure out how many days we'll be eating the dish and take that into account in our planning.

    If your kids like more variety, maybe your wife could eat the leftovers as lunch. Brown bagging saves money too.

  9. Leftover Lunch! Any food that is left from the day before is eaten for lunch the following day...and sometimes for dinner too. Nothing is wasted. We sometimes have some very interesting meals! ::laugh::

  10. I didn't read all the comments, but I freeze in lunch sized portions and take to work or even for at home when I want something different.

  11. We have a family of 8 and I have learned over the years to make simple meals that I can eat for lunch the next day (because I'm the only one who will touch a leftover). I also don't make too much food, except for Thanksgiving.

    I would rather the kids still be slightly hungry and let them have dessert or a piece of fruit than have leftovers, I don't want a fridge full like you have and the guilt or fat tummy that comes from me eating/not eating them!


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