by Nikki Willhite
Everyone has leftovers. How you deal
with leftovers will determine whether they are a plus or a minus, and
whether you lose or save money. There are many kinds of art, but taking
leftovers and turning them into something new and different is one of the most
practical and pleasing types of art.
When you throw leftovers away, it is the same as
throwing out money. Many years ago I remember a
man talking about his wife and saying the she had never fed him the same
meal twice. You can bet she was not throwing away food. She
obviously had a great talent for reusing food in new and different ways.
Use all the food you buy and you will
save money. If you become a great creative leftover cook, some of your
favorite meals may be created out of leftovers.
Every family has different likes and dislikes, but here are
some basic ideas for using leftovers.
Almost all meats can be put in the
blender and then mixed with a little mayonnaise or other liquid to make a sandwich spread.
Spreads can be made more flavorful with the addition of seasonings, chopped
vegetables and eggs, mustard, pickles, and spices. Spread the mix on a piece
of whole grain bread; add a slice of cheese and your favorite lettuce.
Youíve got a delicious sandwich with just a small amount of leftover meat.
Soups and Stews
Leftover meat and vegetables can find a
home in many types of soups and stews. Keep a container in your freezer for
leftover vegetables. When you are ready to make soup or stew, just add them.
This is a very economical way to make
use of leftover meat and vegetables. Just add a little sauce to your diced
up meat and vegetables and your filling is done. You can put it in a pastry
crust, or you can just put a layer of biscuits on top or mashed potatoes.
There are many casserole recipes that will
take leftover meats and vegetables. Very speedy casserole dishes can
be made into fast skillet meals by adding
leftover meat and vegetables to boxes of Rice-a-Roni, or Macaroni and
Fill omelets with a blend of
cheeses as well as cut up meat and vegetables. Longhorn and cottage cheese
blend together well. If the vegetables are fresh, you can sautť them before
adding them to your omelet. If they are already cooked, add them at the last minute.
Uses for Leftover Ingredients
Casseroles, Soups, Stews, Stroganoff,
Sandwich Fillings, Stir Fry, Quiche, Enchiladas, Tacos, Hash, Meatloaf, and
Onions, Celery and Green Peppers
In addition to the above suggestions,
considering juicing these items and freezing the broth. This is how sauce is
made for spaghetti and lasagna in restaurants. The broth adds a
wonderful flavor to tomato-based sauces. Add to your Mexican food such as
Enchiladas and Chili.
Potatoes are one of the most
inexpensive and versatile foods you will find in the produce section of the
grocery store. They are abundant, and always available. If your family
doesnít like them, you just havenít found a way to cook them to their
They also have the virtue of being
easily reused. There are so many ways to use leftover potatoes. They can be
mashed, double mashed, hashed, made into pancakes, baked, and used in
everything from soups and stews to potpies.
Make potatoes cakes out of leftover
mashed potatoes. Mix them with buttermilk, eggs, and spices, and
fry in 1/2 inch vegetable oil until they are golden.
All unused vegetables should be saved
in the freezer to add to soups, stews, and potpies.
Serve cold as a salad with Italian
If you have leftover fruit you know you
will not eat, put it in the blender and puree it. Then freeze it, preferably
in ice cube trays. You can add these cubes to gelatin, as well as soups and
Fruit can also be made into delicious
deserts. You can make pies, cobblers, or you can just top the cooked fruit with a little flour, oatmeal and sugar (like apple crisp).
You can also put fruit in cakes and
muffins. Just make allowances for the fruit juice and decreased the liquid in the recipe.
Layer fruit in a dessert
glass over cake, and add syrups and whipped cream and have an English type trifle dessert.
Freeze syrup in
Popsicle molds. Add a little milk if you want more of a pudding pop.
Use the syrup from canned fruit to
baste ham or marinade food. I had a wonderful plum tree at my last house.
I canned them whole. Then when I wanted to make jello, I
would puree them and add them to the gelatin. It was delicious, and so
simple to do.
Use leftover egg whites to make angel
food cake, or meringue. Use leftover egg yolks to make pound
cake, custard, or macaroons.
Try making bread pudding. People
donít make it much anymore, but it was once very popular.
Make breadcrumbs to be added to the
top of casseroles or to ground beef.
Make croutons for salads.
French Toast. French toast is not
limited to just white bread. You can also use quick rise breads, like banana bread.
Toast and cover with scrambled eggs.
All baked products can usually be
frozen. If wrapped well, they come out as fresh as they went in the freezer. Buy in bulk and freeze some for later.
Fresh leftover waffles and pancakes
can also be frozen for easy use later.
Freeze leftover pasta, or serve cold
as a salad, with chopped vegetables and an Italian dressing.
Bits and pieces of piecrust can be
frozen and used later for small quiche dishes or tarts.
Save the water you boil vegetables
in. It is full of nutrients and has flavor. Use it as the base for
soups, stews, and gravy.
Always serve meat separately from the
Spaghetti. Leftover meat can later go in chili, tacos, Sloppy Joes, and other tomato based dishes.
Save leftover bits of cereals,
crackers, and cookies. Crush them to make a crunchy topping for chicken and casseroles. You can also add them to homemade granola.
Use add leftover bits of cheese to
hamburger or add to salads. You can also add to any tomato based
Make it a goal this year not to serve your leftovers
to your trash can.
About the Author: Nikki Willhite,
mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing
articles on the topic of
frugal living for over a
decade. Visit her at
- where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal
Happy Families- more than just money!