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The Value of Leftovers

Updated on June 3, 2019

Leftovers are a wonderful thing. They save you money, give you some creative inspiration, and can even taste better after a time. Too many people think they are nothing but trash. They eat their meals and toss what is left into the garbage can. What a waste!

Leftovers can be used for so much. They save money. They save time. They are not wasted.


Leftovers are great for lunches the next day or two. They extend the food into future meals. What you have made for dinner Monday night can feed you Tuesday and Wednesday.

It doesn't have to be a direct repeat of the previous night's dinner. You can modify it. Did you have roast chicken or turkey? Make it into a sandwich. Add sauce/salsa to it.

Enjoy a great meal at other times and make your co-workers jealous. At the same time, you save money. You don't have to buy lunch which can be $5-$15 per lunch. That is $100-$300 a month. I could use that kind of cash to pay bills or have some fun. I save it simply by taking my lunch every day using leftovers.

Freeze Them

Not able to eat your leftovers in the next few days? That happens. Just freeze them. You can eat them later.

I have made too much meatloaf at times. I took the extra and put it in a freezer safe container. That became dinner or lunch in a future week. I have even used it in casseroles or soups which saved time in cooking. It did not go to waste and saved me time and money later.

Freezing leftovers is great. They are just meals you have made ahead of time. You can pull a container of meatloaf out in the morning and have it thawed for dinner. Now you don't have to cook it. That saves you an hour or more.

RePurpose Leftovers

I mentioned about my meatloaf being used again in a casserole or in soup. That is re-purposing leftovers. All you are doing is using the leftovers in different ways.

Let's look at a few examples.

Rice - You've made rice as a side for dinner. It doesn't all get eaten.Put it in the fridge. Use it in a casserole tomorrow night or in a soup. I have used it as filling for a pot pie.

Chicken - Have leftover baked chicken, grilled chicken, or BBQ chicken? You can use it for a ton of other dishes. Tacos, quesilldas, pot pie, casseroles, and other such dishes. I have taken the leftovers and made two more meals from them.

Vegetables - My mother was known for taking the leftover peas, carrots, or corn and adding it to beef broth and chunks of beef for great soup. I have also used it in casseroles and pot pies.

Get the picture? You can re-purpose nearly anything. I had leftover taquitas from a party. I didn't want to throw them away. Instead, I layered them in a casserole dish, spread cheese over them, added more, repeated layering and then topped with salsa. Added sour cream when serving, and my family had a new favorite dish.

Be Creative

Let your imagination run wild. Experiment. You never know when you'll find a new favorite dish just by re-using leftovers. Re-invent old dishes. Have fun with it. Even ask the family to give you ideas. Don't let leftovers go to waste. That includes the ham or chicken bone from your last meal. Use it to enhance your soup base. Even a little bit of leftovers can be used in another meal.

Talk to grandparents. Many of them know how to reuse food. My mother used to take leftover mashed potatoes and make fried potato cakes. I loved them. In fact, I would try not to eat many mashed potatoes at one meal so I could have the cakes later. She was from the depression era and knew how to stretch her dollar which included food. Nothing got wasted even if it was fed to the dogs. Every piece of food was used again in some fashion.

Have fun with it and think of all the benefits you get from it.


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    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      2 years ago from North Carolina

      Very good advice. I recently started saving leftovers as well. It has saved me so much money! I always try to make meals that I can use for at least two more days in some form (whether for dinner or lunch).


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