We’re sharing why we absolutely choose to love our leftovers and how they save us time and money! Big time… and lots of money! By the end of this post, you’ll be loving leftovers, too.
You know, the stuff that gets put into food storage containers and crammed into the fridge, never to see the light of day again—until, that is, someone cleans the fridge and finds it covered with fur.
Typically you’ll find people that either love leftovers or hate them. Talk about divided opinions – some people make leftovers on purpose, other’s don’t mind leftovers and will eat them if they have them, some will eat them at gunpoint, and some won’t touch them at all (not even at gunpoint).
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There’s good reason for all the resistance. Nobody likes eating the same thing for days on end. Especially when it gets sadder and limper by the day. Let’s face it: leftovers can be gross—unless you do them the right way!
LEFTOVERS SAVE TIME AND MONEY
There’s a reason why I think leftovers are important enough to merit their own section on ShelfCooking.com, and here it is:
If you don’t eat leftovers, you are literally flushing money down the toilet. A lot of money! If the money’s rolling in and you don’t have a care in the world, go ahead – keep tossing out perfectly good food. No skin off my teeth. For the rest of us, it’s wasteful. Plain and simple. If you’re throwing out perfectly good food disguised as leftovers, you are doing yourself, the environment, and your family a disservice. Not to mention all that money you’re throwing away.
The truth is, we not only love our leftovers, we’re obsessed with them! People may laugh when I’m boxing up anything and everything left on a table after a meal…. but I’m here to tell you that I save a bundle by loving my leftovers.
When I go out to eat and especially when I cook at home, I always plan on getting multiple meals from a single meal. If I’m eating out, I’ll save half my entree for lunch the next day. When I’m cooking, I always make extra for another night. I’m in the kitchen anyway so I might as well. This saves sooo much time, money and helps you justify going out to eat every once in a while 😉
Alright, I’m gonna let you in on a few secrets on how to go about getting and keeping leftovers fresh! That way you can actually eat them for a second meal… without adding too much extra prep time or cost.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you order food from a restaurant and plan to use it for a second meal.
- Buy BIG – When you go out to eat, check to see if there are two different sizes. Often you can get a larger size and it is only $1-2 more. Eat half of your meal and save half for later.
- Ask About Specials – Sometimes when you go out the specials are regular dishes that are temporarily discounted. Order the biggest dish possible to get the best value and then use your self-control – it can definitely be hard sometimes – to save half for later.
- Ask for Sauce on the Side – When you’re ordering your meal, keep in mind that things save better if they’re not drenched in sauce. Salads and sandwiches get soggy, but not if you apply the sauce to the portion you are going to eat right away and save the rest to apply to your leftovers. Genius, right? Now your leftovers will last till the next day and still be just as scrumptious.
- Take Everything Home – You might seem like a crazy person, but that’s totally okay. You can get creative when you’re saving and reusing leftovers. Even leftover fries can be revived. It’s true! Find out some of my amazing tips on reheating and repurposing leftovers.
- Transfer to an Airtight Container – When you get home, immediately transfer your food to a container that will actually keep your food fresh! It makes a big difference.
MEALS AT HOME
It’s time to prep dinner, here are a few tips to help you maximize your time in the kitchen!
- Double Recipes and Freeze – If you know me at all, you have heard this tip many a time. Most of us don’t want to be in the kitchen every single night – so let’s be smart, folks! You bought the ingredients, you are in the kitchen cooking anyway… double the recipe and freeze for a rainy (or busy) day. This is also a great way to always have a meal on hand to give to someone in need at a minute’s notice. (Learn how to freeze your leftovers properly so that they’re as fresh as they were when you first made them.)
- Be Aware of Portion Sizes – If you want to have leftovers, make sure your family is aware and you set aside leftovers for later. With a growing family, you might think you made enough for leftovers, but those hearty appetites have another idea! We almost always have a cheap option on the side that helps fill up growing tummies like rice, rolls, etc.
- Stock up on Plastic Containers – Personally, I’m not a fan of saran wrap, it doesn’t keep our leftovers very fresh. I use air tight containers to keep our food fresh.
- Plan Around Leftovers – When you’re planning your meals out for the week you can plan for Tacos on Tuesday and Taco Salad on Thursday. Or Lasagna one night and leftover Lasagna on a second night the same week. Work your leftovers into your meal plan! Say what!! Did we just blow your mind?
- Get Creative – If you make chicken and rice on Monday and don’t feel like eating it again, repurpose it! Shred that chicken and add it to burritos. Toss it into a salad with your favorite dressing. Add it to soup! There are so many ways to change up your leftovers to make them feel brand new.
- It’s All About Your Attitude – If we haven’t convinced you to love your leftovers yet, then I highly suggest you just change your attitude and give it a try to see what you think!
LEFTOVERS ARE LIFE
Okay, that might be a bit dramatic… but for real. Shelf cooking is all about using what you have to save you money. Using up your leftovers is one of the best ways to really make great use of your time and your resources.
News flash: Leftovers don’t have to taste terrible! If your leftovers taste mushy, bland, cold, soggy, and totally sad, you’re just doing them the wrong way!
We go into detail with some awesome tips for getting your leftovers to taste just as good as – if not better than – the food did when you first served it. (And here’s a spoiler: you might not even recognize it!)
Check out these posts so you can become an expert at using up your leftovers, too!