When you are trying to be frugal and live wisely, you really have to take a moment and evaluate. Where you can cut back and also what might you be wasting?
There are a lot of folks that don't like eating the same thing two or three times in a row but you can recreate dinners, lunches and breakfast from parts of what you had the night or day before.
Before I share last nights dinner idea, I wanted to share some of our favorite ways we have found to use what normally would get tossed.
Some of these ideas come from friends, some from my Mom. Growing up one of five with my Grandfather being in the military, she learned a lot from her Mom.
The cost of bread can add up and most of us eat it daily in some way.
Remember that bread can be frozen so if you see it on sale OR if you bake it yourself you can always freeze extra loaves as you go.
If you have left over rolls, pita, sandwich bread etc, you can freeze the leftovers for later. However my favorite thing to do is break it up so I have bread for stuffing. I keep a bread bag in my freezer and when there is a piece left over or the heels of the loaf I break it up into stuffing size pieces. Then when it is time for stuffing you don't have to dry out your bread or buy the stuff in the box.
You can also let it sit out and stale just a bit, then grate and toss with your favorite spices for you own bread crumbs.
Last but not least, left over bread makes great croutons. Cut the left over bread into small pieces, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle on your favorite seasonings. Bake for 20 minutes in a low oven.
We love fruit in our home and I always try and keep some around. More often than not though there will always be those extra few pieces that start to get bruised and then no one will eat them.
For citrus remember that they make wonderful household cleaners. For lemons and oranges you can cut them in half and use them to get the smells out of your sinks several days after they have lost their snack appeal. Cut into small pieces and put in your garbage disposal, they can get rid of smells wonderfully. You can also cut them up and drop them in a pot of water with some other spices for a wonderful smell that will fill your whole house. You can use all of these ideas as well with just the hull that is left over after making fresh lemonade or orange juice.
For apples and pears, peel and cut off bruised sections, then you can stew them or bake them and the family is getting a wonderful desert.
Bananas are my favorite as darker bananas make wonderful muffins and bread. You can usually get a darker bunch on sale at the grocery for next to nothing. When you see this deal snap it up. If you don't have time to bake in the upcoming days, no worries. When you have a bunch or even an odd one you can put your bananas in the freezer for use later. They will turn black on the outside but the banana itself will be better than ever for baking. Pull the frozen fruit out about an hour before you want to bake, let it sit at room temp. When you are ready pinch the top of the peel off and then slide the fruit out in one smooth motion. The fruit will slide out of the peel and be ready with out even much mashing.
Finally if you are lucky enough to have a food dehydrator you can make fruit leather. Put any mixture of your favorite fruits into a blender, blend until you have a thick fruit sauce. Spread on a saran wrap sheet in your machine. The thinner you spread it, the faster it will be ready.
Once done, cut into wedges and roll. These are a prefect snack for the girls and uses up tons of apples and pears that would not have gotten eaten other wise.
Meat, gets a little tricky as it take practice to think ahead of time and project how much your family will eat and what you can do with the left over meat. If you know that your family will not eat the entire package of chicken then don't barbeque the entire package. Two pieces of chicken saved can make a good soup or quiche for the next nights dinner.
If you are going to get a big piece of meat, make sure that you make something that can be used in other ways.
My girlfriend from England makes wonderful roast dinners with whole chickens and then uses what is left of the chicken for soup, pot pie extra. I have another friend that makes a wonderful pasta dish with left over baked chicken.
We like pot roast and one of our favorite things to do is make lum sandwiches the next day. (recipe to follow)
Remember you can always freeze most left over as well. I have revived an old family tradition called end of the month soup. Have a good sized container in your freezer and at the end of every meal you add in the tablespoon of veggies or small pieces of meat that are not large enough to save. At the end of the month it all goes in a pot a cooks for the day. Some of the best soups I have ever tasted were end of the month soup and now I know how good my Mom felt feeding it to us as well.
To save time and money, you can buy your ground meat in bulk. When you bring it home, brown all of it at one time, adding in the basic spices and additions like onion, garlic etc. Then you can freeze the precooked portions. This can save you time and save your meat from getting freezer burned.
Think outside of the cook book.
Just because it says it is breakfast food doesn't mean that it has to stay there. Here in America we don't stray very often but in Europe it is normal to have eggs for dinner or lunch. One of our favorite dinners is quiche. It is easy and filling, I usually make two at once and then we have a slice for breakfast for several days in a row. Quiches are a great way to use up a small amount of leftover meat and make it stretch.
Remember that you can send leftovers for lunch the next day. The children went to school happy as larks today with left over tabouli, hummus and pita.
Here are a few more recipes, as usual if they are mine, the measurements will not be exact and feel free to add in other spices or remove some.
This is from my Grandfathers head, I am sure it might not be exactly how he made it but it sure taste the same.
Use leftover pot roast a piece about the size of two fist will make more than enough to feed four.
In a medium stock pot add in your meat
some onions from the roast dinner cut thin and small
some juice from the roast dinner
about two cups of water
a clove of garlic crushed
a package of beef bouillon
about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Bring all the contents to a light boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for several hours, making sure that the liquid level in the pot stays full enough to keep meat from burning. As you stir on occasion, start to pull apart the meat. When it is totally fallen apart it is done.
Now take some good quality bread, spread with butter and add lum meat and sauce and enjoy.
3 tablespoons catsup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
We love this for dinner and it is a great way to use up just a handful of meat that you might have left over. I have used ham, turkey and chicken with it and all are really good.
You can also use different veggies, try bell peppers or broccoli as well.
one pie crust or enough fillo dough to cover bottom of pie plate for several layers
4 to 5 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
one cup of shredded cheese ( we like sharp cheddar)
1/2 of a small sweet onion or one leek sautéed and cooled
11/2 to 2 cups of cooked spinach cooled to room temp
about a cup of diced meat of your choice
little more than a tablespoon of flour
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350
Make your pie dough or layer your fillo dough in your pie plate set aside
In a medium sized bowl add in your cheese and flour. Toss until cheese is coated well.
In a large bowl add your eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
Add in other ingredients and whisk well.
Pour mixture into prepared crust, bake for about 45 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.
Easy, easy !!
I double this and make two at a time. One is enough for dinner with bread and a salad and then the second one last us for the whole school week for breakfast.