So, we’re looking around the house and realizing we may need to make what we have last a little longer. Also, having a little extra time has given us the opportunity to consider how much we waste. Sadly, it was more than we thought. With that in mind, we thought we’d ask you all and look around for easy ways to improve our food usage and stretch our food to make it last.
Maybe it's too simple, but it's worth suggesting
Drinking a glass of water is the most obvious way to do yourself some good and feel full. It’s good for you, it’s inexpensive, and it's easy.
Make a meal plan
Also simple, but making a plan keeps you on course. The money you save by not grabbing impulse items can also afford you the opportunity to buy bulk foods and staples that you can store and/or freeze. Most of you already know this trick, but take advantage of deals and coupons to stretch your dollar even more. Here's a good article from The Financial Diet with some more useful ideas.
Add in some bulk staples
Dropping in some beans, rice, noodles, or potatoes can bulk up any meal and help you feel full and, depending on the ingredient, it can add some much needed protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet.
Keep the things you might usually throw away
You can use the parts of the vegetables you normally throw away to make a soup or a veggie stock. The same thing goes for meat. If you buy a whole chicken it’s usually cheaper, and you can use the bones to make a broth.
Make a goulash or casserole
Finding yourself with a lot of different little leftovers? When we were kids, most of those things went into a pot with elbow macaroni and stewed tomatoes. Add a little spice and viola! You’ve got goulash. Taste of Home has a nice list of leftover casseroles.
You know instinctively what will taste good together, so be creative.
Leftovers make good soups, too.
Or you could make a nice omelette
It’s surprising how many dinners make good breakfasts the next day. Around our house, fajitas and tacos quickly become quiches, frittatas, or scrambled egg dishes.
Or toss it on a salad.
Lettuces are typically pretty inexpensive; a few of the right leftovers, veggies, nuts, or cheese can make a delicious and easy-to-prepare meal.
Add some bread
If you have flour, yeast, and water, you’ve got the bare necessities for a loaf of bread. Bread is a great addition to most dinners and an inexpensive way to fill up and get some good carbs.
Just freeze it
If it’s on its way to turning, get it in the freezer. If you know you’re not going to eat it, you might as well freeze it now. We make the mistake of tossing leftovers in the fridge time and time again only to watch them go bad. It may seem simple, but, for us at least, it's going to take some self training.
What have we missed? We know there’s a bunch of you with great ideas on this front. Share your tips, tricks, and ideas in the comments. Got a recipe or a website that helps you use leftovers for meals? Share it below. Maybe we can make a cookbook together or a how-to guide for people just learning to reduce waste, stretch dollars, and make great meals.
One tip that has helped me over the years is for ground meats. When I buy a bulk pkg of burger I divide it up for the freezer in 3/4# pkgs, instead of 1#. In many recipes, like chili or goulash, you won’t miss that 1/4#, and you can squeeze an extra meal out of your pkg of burger!