THROWING out leftover food is one of the biggest wastes for most families. We are all looking for ways to save money any way we can and one challenge is cutting back on our grocery budget. You need to get creative to lower food costs, and using leftovers wisely is a great place to start.
Preparing homemade meals
It seems everyone is out of time these days. We cram as much as we can into each day and meal times are often conducted with one foot out the door and the other already in the car. That is no way to save on the grocery bill.
Preparing more meals at home has its advantages. Just to name a few:
You know what's in the food you are preparing
You have leftovers for lunches the next day
You have a family meal together.
Preparing meals at home can be done if you plan ahead. You may want to pick one day to prep your meals. Then, when meal time rolls around, just pop dinner into the oven and dinner is ready. Now, how does planning and preparing dinner at home help with the budget?
When you plan your meals at home you can choose to cook more than you need for a dinner. That way, you can save those delectable leftover morsels for another time and place. Here are a few simple ways that you can use leftovers to save on food costs:
Divide leftovers into single serving portions and place in containers to be eaten for lunch the next day or freeze for later meals.
For meals like spaghetti, make a double batch of sauce so you can freeze the leftovers of either one for new meals.
Save leftover meat or chicken and use in casseroles, soups, sandwiches or salads.
Even families that aren't fans of leftovers can learn to be creative with food. When you make a roast, don't just serve the same slice of beef with leftover potatoes and carrots the next day. Take the beef and turn it into an entirely different dish. For instance, dice the beef and add gravy, top with puff pastry and you have a yummy meat pie - an Aussie staple.
Many vegetable side dishes can be pureed and turned into delicious, creamy soups. Take that last little bit of steamed cauliflower or broccoli, throw it in the food processor with chicken stock and shredded cheese, heat it up and you have cheesy broccoli soup for lunch. More creative use of leftovers:
Leftover roast beef/pork: Fried rice, beef and Guinness pie (make a gravy with some Gravox and some Guinness, add the beef and simmer until thick - wrap in pastry), or a stir fry.
Leftover corned beef: Corned beef fritters, pink pie (corned beef shredded in a white sauce in pastry).
Leftover roast chook: Chicken pasta bake, pasta, chicken and asparagus quiche.
Leftover vegetables: Bubble and squeak, vegetable fritters, soup.
These are just a few examples - there are hundreds more. Be creative and make that dollar stretch further. You'll be amazed at how many meals you won't have to cook or buy if you plan to have leftovers and use them wisely.
Jody Allen is the creator of Stay At Home Mum
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