Frugal Cooking-Use Planned Leftovers for Easy Delicious Meals

A Tasty Beef Skillet Dinner

If you are a frugal cook one of the best tools at your disposal is the use of planned leftovers. Whether you are cooking for a big family or just yourself or anything in between, planned leftovers are a delicious way to make sure you stay within your food budget on days when you are two busy or too tired to cook anything that requires effort. It may seem like “too much” when you make the base dish, but after you give this a try you’ll see what a difference it makes in the quality of your home cooked meals.

How Does it Work?

Planned leftovers is a very simple concept. Just make twice as much as you need when you are in a cooking mood or have plenty of time. Then rework the leftovers into something new. Some foods really lend themselves to this. For instance, a whole chicken if you eat meat, or a pot of beans if you are a vegetarian or vegan. In Fact, it takes the same effort with these and many other dishes to make a lot as a little. There are a few items that don’t fare so well as leftovers- dressed green salad, soufflé. But other than those few exceptions the field is wide open.

Here is a Sample Leftovers Plan

Day one: make a simple Mexican Beef Skillet using  ground beef and beans. In this photo I used The Cinco De Mayo Skillet from “Cheap. Fast. Good”. by Mills and Ross. If you are a vegetarian use a bean skillet recipe with a bit of spice to it. Both the meat and vegetarian versions are served with rice the first night. Remember to make “too much” rice as well.

A couple of nights later, when you don’t feel like doing much in the kitchen,

Becomes this Easy and Good Casserole

get out the leftover skillet and the leftover rice, along with some salsa and some cheese (or soy cheese if you are vegan.) Take a medium sized casserole dish and put a little salsa in the bottom. Then a thin layer of rice. Then the skillet mixture. Then more rice. Then a layer of cheese. Layer it till the casserole is full, topping with salsa. Cover and bake at 400 degrees till it bubbles, maybe 25 minutes. Then top with more cheese and put back in till the cheese melts. The hands on time is maybe 10 minutes, and the baking time is strictly hands off.

There are repurposing ideas like this that include all kinds of base dishes. Just use your imagination, always double the quantity, and keep checking back for post like this one.

Here is a link to Cheap. Fast. Good. for more ideas: http://www.amazon.com/Cheap-Fast-Good-Beverly-Mills/dp/B001CJP2HE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1305821606&sr=8-2

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8 Responses

  1. As an added benefit of being a vegetarian, my left-overs almost always taste better than the first time that I consume them. The spices and herbs which my dishes typically rely on can only become enhanced with time.

    Thanks for sharing your blog.

  2. I almost always make “too much” , except that I also do it on purpose. And I don’t go for the excuse that it’s too much trouble (don’t like that word) to cook for one person, so they’ll eat a cardboard pizza or a sodium-heavy frozen dinner (shudder). If you’re willing to cook for More than one, cook for 2, or 3 or 4, eat one portion and use the others as suggested here. Anyone who says “Ugh” to leftovers hasn’t eaten mine.

  3. You are good writer. Thank you.

  4. You have one nice blog 🙂

  5. Great post, I wish more people would Frugal Cook. I never intend to make more than I need but if I do I always freeze it.

    I remember my dad always re-used leftovers especially from the Sunday dinner. Sometimes it tasted better than the dinner itself!
    I tried it once with my kids, they hated it.

  6. I almost always make “too much” , except that I also do it on purpose. And I don’t go for the excuse that it’s too much trouble (don’t like that word) to cook for one person, so they’ll eat a cardboard pizza or a sodium-heavy frozen dinner (shudder). If you’re willing to cook for More than one, cook for 2, or 3 or 4, eat one portion and use the others as suggested here. Anyone who says “Ugh” to leftovers hasn’t eaten mine

  7. I have certain dishes that I always make ‘too much’ of, so I won’t have to bother with cooking for a couple of days – either I eat them for several days in a row, or I freeze a part. Soups especially – I just can’t eat instant soups any more at all, so I make a huge pot of beef or chicken broth on Sundays and freeze part of it for those days when I need a quick dinner.

  8. […] http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/05/19/frugal-cooking-use-planned-leftovers-for-easy-delicious-m… […]

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