Parties and getting together with friends is a ton of fun. It could also mean a ton of food, drinks, and left overs that don’t really fit into dinner plans. While fun at the time, most of us don’t want to waste food, or see food wasted. It breaks our thrifty hearts. Here’s how to reduce the amount of party leftovers you will have and tips for what to do with what is left over.
Think Before You Buy
When having people over consider having foods that will last longer, morph into meals and are semi healthy. When you have candy you will either destroy your diet or never be rid of it. When you have tortilla chips and bean dip you can later add salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream to make nachos for lunch on the day after your get together.
Make It Potluck
Potluck parties are the best because with everyone bringing something you know two things. First, there is going to be plenty of food. Second, everyone should have something there they like. After the party you can just send people home with the leftovers of what they brought. You can send everyone home with something they didn’t bring.
Try To Pawn Them Off
If you have thrown a party or had a family get together, try to pawn some of the food off on those that attended. Often you have paid for the food, but what is left over is more than your little family unit can ( or should ) eat before it goes bad. Make plates or bags designed with the purpose of sending your food orphans home with family and friends.
Left Over Day
Have the day after your party be a left over day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner should all be comprised of left overs. So should any snacks that are consumed on that day. While you will have some less healthy options and some interesting meal combinations, you will also avoid wasting those costly party foods.
I hate wasting food, but I also hate having the same thing twice, when food is left over. So I use these ideas to make a different meal out of the same ingredients.
Instead of making spaghetti twice in a row, I pull out some buns and make Sloppy Joe mix out of that left over meat sauce. I also like to use a meat sauce on my mashed potatoes instead of a gravy.
All sorts of things can go into stir fries. I have made it noodle based with scrambled eggs and mixed vegetables. I have made it rice based with chicken and broccoli. Basically if there is a meat and a vegetable left over I just add it to noodles or rice for a fun new stir fry.
I like to make stews mostly when I have steak or pork chops left over. I add broth and canned carrots. Or if I’m in a rush, I just add the cut up meat to a vegetable soup.
Vegetables and meat can also be added to your choice of cream soup to make a chowder. I like to use cream of potato. It makes the soup more filling and I don’t need to peal or cut the spuds. If I feel like doing something more spicy, I add a tomato based soup and salsa instead.
This idea is for getting three meals out of one. If, by chance, I have chowder left over the next day I put it inside a pie crust and turn it into a homemade pot pie. Since the filling been cooked twice already, I just need to make sure the crust is cooked fully.
We cleaned our fridge out over the weekend and let’s just say that our trash had to be taken out very quickly because it was so full. I know I am not alone in throwing out leftovers more than I should. It’s such a waste in food and money. Not only do you save from using bought food for another meal, you make your dollar stretch even more from the other meal.
But maybe you are like me and are kind of leery after food has sat around for a while. Here’s a great guide to knowing how long your leftovers are good for and some other tips to help those leftovers get eaten.
1. Baked dishes, soups, and stews. If they don’t have meat in them they can last up to a week. If you did put meat in them eat within 5 days and you are good to go!
2. Vegetables and legumes will last longer than dairy and eggs.
3. Don’t dress your salads. If you put dressing on your salads they will be mushy quickly, so keep the dressing off and your salad should stay nice and fresh for up to a week if in an airtight container.
4. Freeze your leftovers. Soooooo many leftovers are perfectly fine frozen. Don’t feel like eating them tomorrow? That’s ok, because freezing them gives you the option to eat it a couple of weeks later. It’s also beneficial to make extra every time just so you can freeze extra meals for later on.
5 . Give them to a friend. We seriously have a family that is very close to us and they just hate cooking. I love it, so we cook a lot. Our friends tend to go out a lot. So instead of throwing out our leftovers, I give them to their family and she cleans my house. Seems like a good trade huh?
My husband is obsessed with ham lately. I am not a big fan, but I am a big fan of how many meals I get out of one ham! The one we got was HUGE so it will go far. Here is what I have so far.
1. Ham with macaroni and cheese. It doesn’t get much more basic than this, but the first day I just make a regular ham. But I put mine in the crockpot so it’s less work for me.
2. Split pea soup. Is there honestly a better thing to do with a hambone? I think not. It’s super easy to make and again, I just throw it all in the crock pot and forget it until it’s time to eat. HERE is the recipe I use.
3. Potato soup. THIS recipe will change your life. It’s the BEST potato soup of all time. This one doesn’t call for meat, but I throw in ham or bacon and it’s wonderful. It also is in the crockpot which makes it easy on me. Are you seeing a theme here?
4. Ham and cheese omelets. These are great to use your leftovers for breakfast. We don’t eat a lot of meat for breakfast so this is a great way to mix it up. You can also try a breakfast casserole too!
5. Sandwiches! If you happen to have any leftovers, just make sandwiches. I really think this may be my husband’s true reason for wanting ham. And honestly it doesn’t get much easier.
What do you do with your leftover ham?
Am I the only one with lots of leftover turkey still? I hate to throw it away, so I won’t I’ll make some turkey tortilla soup. I LOVE making tortilla soup because it’s crazy easy and I usually have all of the items on hand. Anytime you don’t have to go to the store for even one item, it saves you money. One item always turns into 10.
This recipe is also made in the crock pot AND it freezes beautifully.
What You Need
Whatever turkey you have left. Just throw it all in.
1-15 oz can whole canned tomatoes. Make sure you mash them up pretty well.
1-10 oz can enchilada sauce
1 yellow onion chopped
1-4oz can chopped green chilis
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1 cup water
1 can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can whole kernal corn
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Throw it all in the crockpot and let cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4.
I like to serve mine with tortilla chips and sour cream.
What did you do with your leftover turkey?
Do you ever get in a rut with your cooking/meal planning? I do. Then, when I look at cooking magazines and websites, I realize that it’s actually so easy to make lots of creative and exotic meals…as long as I spend a lot more money. Chicken is a staple in our home. But, it is very easy to get stuck in a chicken rut. Here are a couple of ideas to change things up while saving money.
We love taking our leftover chicken and turning them into a fiesta umbrella online sale meal. It’s so easy to simply shred leftover chicken with a little bit of broth or water and your favorite Mexican seasonings to serve in a tortilla alongside some cheese, sour cream, guacamole, maybe some beans and a little homemade pico de gallo! It’s one of our family’s favorite meals…but, save the chicken fat and bits in the bottom of the pan to make a yummy sauce. And, make lots of it.
Last night I used the chicken bits at the bottom of the pan to make a little chili powder based sauce for our tacos. When the pan was hot, I added a little bit of water. When it began to boil, I sprinkled less than 1/4 cup flour to thicken it. From there, I added more finely chopped onions, water, chili
We love making over our leftovers around our house. So, here’s an idea. If you have leftover taco sauce, you may want to add a little to it the next night and make bean and cheese tacos. You may even like just cheese and fixins!
Both of these ideas would work great with beef as well. There are so many great leftover ideas. We may have to revisit this thrifty tip! 😉
What are your favorite leftovers?
I didn’t grow up with the most thrifty parents, but when it came to food, they did not waste. I grew up with tons of fresh vegetables and today’s leftovers always became tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. But my parents weren’t boring about it, they always made something new out of the leftovers. If you do this often with food leftovers, you’ll waste less and save money on your grocery bill. Here are some things my parents did and some things I have done with my leftovers.
1. Mashed Potatoes.
These are so good and perfect for morning. Take a skillet and put some butter down and turn your stove on medium to high. Melt the butter and throw mashed potatoes in there. Let it cook long enough to get a crust and then turn and let the other side get a crust too. This is PERFECT to serve with eggs and toast!
We always have leftover rice and make fried rice every time. It’s probably an indicator that I should cut down on cooking it, but then I couldn’t make yummy fried rice. I use a rice cooker so it’s nice to only have to get it out once, but still reap the benefits of having two meals worth of rice. The fried rice recipe I use in a Benihana copy cat recipe that I will share tomorrow, so make sure you check it out. It’s utterly the best fried rice EVER.
This is another dinner we always have leftovers with. If you are in the same boat, just chop the burger back up to look like ground beef and recook it with some taco seasonings and a little water and have tacos! You can also use it to make chili. I love to put it into a crock pot so it gets the meat really tender again.
We waste so much salad and I hate it! But I hate eating salad two days in a row. I don’t know why, but I do. So now, I have started using it the next day for sandwiches. I love to have fresh lettuce on my sandwiches and now it’s even already cut up and it tastes the same! You can also use it to make a great chicken salad if you happen to have chicken leftover too. Just cut it all up, throw it in and I like to coat it with curry and mayo and throw it on a bun. YUM-MY!
We made this last night for a big family meal. I can’t believe we had any left, but alas I do. So for lunch we will be having bbq roast sandwiches. Just throw the meat back in the crock pot with some bbq sauce and a little water and let it cook. It will be delicious!
What do you make with your leftovers? Do you turn them into something new?
Easter has to be one of my favorite holidays for leftovers. We had an amazing ham yesterday with a ton of family and there were two huge ham bones leftover that I asked to take. There’s a great thrifty tip, don’t ever be ashamed to ask for leftovers! I will be able to use these two ham bones to make enough split pea soup for several meals as well as some for the freezer for later.
Do you have a ham bone from your Easter ham? Here’s the recipe I use. You can use this for the stove top too, but I love to throw everything into a crock pot and let it simmer all day.
What you need:
- 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
- 1 meaty ham bone
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 tbsp. seasoned salt
- 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
- 1 1/2 qts. hot water
What to do:
Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove bones and bay leaf.
What’s your favorite Easter leftover recipe?