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.

Leftovers in airtight containers, from Shelf Cooking


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, others 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!


Taco ingredients on a counter, from Shelf Cooking

There’s a reason why we 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. 

Jordan Page

The truth is, we not only love our leftovers, we're obsessed with them! People may laugh when we're boxing up anything and everything left on a table after a meal…. but we're here to tell you that we save a bundle.

When we go out to eat and especially when we cook at home, we always plan on getting multiple meals from a single meal. If we're eating out, we'll save half our entree for lunch the next day. When we're cooking, we always make extra for another night. We're in the kitchen anyway so we might as well. This saves sooo much time, money, and helps you justify going out to eat every once in a while 😉


Food in a bowl ready to reheat, from Shelf Cooking

Alright, we're 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 until 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 our 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.


Leftovers in freezer bags, from Shelf Cooking

When 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 us 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 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 ContainersAirtight containers are the best option to keep food fresh, while also being stackable and taking up the least amount of space in the fridge.
  • 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.

Pro Tip: If we haven't convinced you to love your leftovers yet, then we highly suggest you just change your attitude and give it a try to see what you think!


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!

Okay, well now that we've convinced you to love your leftovers… What's your favorite meal that leaves leftovers? Share them with us in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "love your leftovers and save a bundle" from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more great ideas?

Now go enjoy those leftovers!