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Learn How to Use your Leftovers

Learn How to Use your Leftovers

My husband doesn't like leftovers. My kids don't like leftovers. I don't mind leftovers, but I do have the tendency to forget about them. You know what I mean...after dinner, you carefully put them in one of those handy storage containers. The handy container gets pushed aside, and then it gets pushed to the back of the refrigerator.

Before I know it, my kids can have their own award winning science project just by opening the fridge and using the leftover food. If this sounds like you, do what I did -- learn how to use those leftovers and stop wasting money.

Organize it

Your first plan of attack is to get organized. A big part of the problem is forgetting about the food in the fridge in the first place. A simple solution is to go to your local discount store and buy a small dry-erase board. Stick it to the side of your refrigerator.

When you put leftovers in, write what it is and the date on the board. This way you know what's in there and how soon it needs some attention. Sometimes even husbands and kids eat the leftovers if they realize that already prepared leftover food is available.

This works well if you have food like leftover lasagna or steak, but what if you have 1/2 cup of corn or peas. A good solution to this is to either freeze these small amounts separately or keep a medium-sized plastic container in the freezer. As you get small amounts of veggies like corn, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, and onions, throw them in the container. When it gets full, you can make stew or make other leftover soups.

Use it

Sometimes you have leftovers that no one will touch. Say you tried a new recipe for chicken and no one liked it, to say the least. Don't let that chicken (or whatever) go to waste -- repurpose it. If it is smothered in sauce, rinse it off. If it's dry, put it in the crock-pot with some gravy or sauce and serve it over toast or noodles. Brainstorm ways to disguise the disliked dish and no one has to even know.

Freeze it

If you made a large batch of a certain dish and everyone liked it but is tired of it, freeze it. By making sure you freeze the food properly, it can last up to a couple of months in the freezer without freezer burn. If it's not enough for a complete meal, make it a side dish or make extra side items to go with it. By using foil or airtight freezer bags, you can freeze all kinds of food and they'll be just as good as when you first made them.

If I can do it, I know you can. Stop throwing away all that food. Get organized, use it, or freeze it. You'll be surprised how much using leftovers helps your food budget.

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