Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I don't use the term leftovers in the way that most people do.  Most of the time I have "planned overs" that are a part of dinner that I intentionally planned to have extra to turn into another meal at a later time.  When I talk about leftovers, I mean that little bit that is left that generally just goes into the trash.  

I was thinking about this last night when I was making dinner.  One of the kids had a friend over so I needed to make more than I usually would but doubling what I was making would have been too much.  Let me explain, I have a cow butchered every year and have it packaged in ways that suit my family that I cook for on a regular basis.  So as I thawed out extra hamburger last night, I took the extra I didn't need and fried about 1/2 pound of it up to be added to spaghetti later this week.  Spaghetti doesn't need a full pound of hamburger so that 1/2 pound goes in the freezer for later.  When we have spaghetti, I don't mix the sauce and noodles before serving.  This way, when dinner is over, the sauce that is left, can be saved. 

Here's how I do that.  I keep a Mason jars in the freezer that I add little bits of leftover sauce too.  Once it is full, we have a "free" spaghetti dinner.  First, label anything you put in the freezer.  Second, don't tighten the jar lid all the way so the jar doesn't burst, if you're leery of using a jar, you can use a Ziploc bag.  

I use good Ziploc freezer bags for doing the same thing with leftover taco meat, sloppy joes and pulled pork.  These can be used for weekend lunches or you can add to them until you have enough for a meal.  

More on leftover bits and pieces.  I save leftover veggies in a bag and I also save leftover bits of beef (steak, roasts, whatever) and chicken (in different bags).  The beef and the veggies will make a quick veggie soup by adding a little broth and some barley or even just alphabet noodles.    The chicken bits can quickly be turned into a ton of chicken dishes.  Whether you make a cold item like chicken salad or use some broth (homemade frozen or store bought) to make a quick chicken and noodles or dumplings.  

The big thing I will say about the above practices is to be sure that you label everything.  Not just with what is being stored but the date that you initially put it in the freezer.  I don't let things stay in there more than a month or two before I use them.  I know these hints aren't for everyone but for those looking to stretch their food budget, every little thing helps.  These are things I started doing long ago that have just become habit.

Something else that is cool too is to take leftover broth and freeze it in ice cube trays.  When they are frozen, pop them out and put in a Ziploc in the freezer.  These are great to use when making gravies or for seasoning potatoes or rice as you cook it.

More on Planned-overs later!

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