Let’s face it. As much fun as some of us have cooking our meals, we all get into a rut now and then. And if you do very much cooking, you already know it isn’t always easy to use all those leftovers. Just the word “leftovers” has some people turning up their noses. But like it or not, using your leftovers and learning to stretch meals is a great way to save money and cut down on eating out.
Here are five different ways you can stretch your meals a little further and use leftovers creatively.
Turn Leftovers into a New Pot of Soup
One of my favorite ways to use leftovers of all types is by turning them into a new pot of soup. You can use lots of little bits of vegetables leftover in your fridge to make a vegetable soup. You can also use leftover meat, like chicken from a rotisserie chicken or even leftover meatballs to make different types of soup. Here’s a great recipe for meatball soup that I’m going to try next time I have leftovers meatballs.
Create a New Sandwich
Another great way to use both vegetables and meats is by making a sandwich. Not only could you use leftover meat from hams, turkey and chicken to make a sandwich, but you could also re-purpose things like meatloaf to make a good sandwich the next day. One of my favorite parts of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter where we make a ham or turkey is using the leftover meat to make sandwiches the next day. Yum!
Toss Together a Casserole
Casseroles are one of the easiest one dish meals to make because they often combine meat or protein, vegetables, dairy and grains all in one easy dish. They are also easy things to make using lots of leftovers. You can easily combine leftover vegetables, some rice or noodles, some chicken and a can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup to make a hearty casserole. Put the casserole in the oven at 350 for a few minutes and you’ll have an easy meal.
Try Your Hand at Canning and Preserving
No matter if your produce is store-bought or raised in your own garden, you can take a stab at canning and preserving to make the most of vegetables before they go bad in your kitchen. You can create things like salsa, jams and jellies, applesauce and more that will keep for months or even a couple of years in your pantry.
Start a Compost Pile or Feed Your Chickens
A final alternative to eating all of your leftovers yourself is to turn them into compost for your vegetable garden or feed them to your chickens instead. Both compost piles and livestock can benefit from your vegetable scraps and other leftovers if you really can’t stand the thought of eating them yourself. At least you can rest easy knowing they are better off in these places than in the trash instead.
Next time you have leftovers that you aren’t sure how to use, try one of these ideas to stretch your food budget and make use of every bit of the food you buy. If meal planning is something you struggle with, check out $5 Meal Plan – which gives you everything you need to set up a budget friendly and creative meal plan for your family.
How do you use your leftovers? Have you ever used leftovers for these purposes?
Photo courtesy of: Meditations