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How We Saved This Week: Eating leftovers for dinner

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As we were eating leftovers for dinner last night, I realized that making a habit of eating up leftovers a few meals each week instead of forgetting about them at the back of the fridge is one way we save a little money every week.

It saves time, because we don’t have to plan a dinner or make dinner or clean up the dishes from dinner. And it saves money, because we don’t have to buy the ingredients for another lunch or dinner.

It’s such a simple, no-brainer thing, but saving money in simple ways on a regular basis adds up over time!

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We’ve also found that serving leftovers for dinner on busy nights cuts down on the temptation to grab carryout. So on busy nights, I’ll often set out all the odds and ends in the fridge and declare it a Leftover Buffet night.

For those of you who wish you had leftovers but it seems like your hungry teens or growing kiddos eat everything you make, consider doubling a casserole or soup recipe you’re making a couple times per week and sticking half the recipe in the fridge or freeze before you eat dinner that night.

That way, you’re guaranteeing you’ll have “leftovers” to eat later in the week! 🙂

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My favorite part of eating leftovers for dinner? Less kitchen clean-up!

What’s one way that your family saved this week? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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59 Comments

  • Christine says:

    I use tea bags twice.

  • Sarah W says:

    We saved by going to our local public library. They have a kids program this month where you complete a bingo of different literacy tasks (read a book while cuddling a toy, sing the alphabet song, etc.). When you finish, you return it to the library and get a free book! My kids are so excited to get theirs this Saturday. The books are Curious George books, which retail for around $8. So, one free one for each of my kids totals $16 saved–not to mention a lot of reading fun at home.

  • Sharon says:

    I use tea bags twice also. I use plastic grocery bags for garbage bags. We eat leftovers for lunch. I search the internet daily for free homeschool lessons and ebooks. We use homemade cleaners.

  • Laura says:

    Eating leftovers is something we’ve done diligently since I quit my job. My kids don’t have the “ew” factor because they are used to it. They like to pick out their own entree. It really does save time. I like using Pyrex bowls with lids to store and serve foods because it saves time and dishes. Planning for leftovers is brilliant.

  • Marion says:

    We couponed and brown bagged.

  • Dana says:

    I love leftovers, but only if the food was good the first time around, ha ha. My kids aren’t really big leftover eaters and grumble when I put it out, but I think it’s a good thing for them to get used to. I saved money this week by making my son a delicious ice cream cake from ice cream sandwiches for his birthday. I was thinking of purchasing one from an ice cream shop chain, but thought I should save some bucks and make one myself. The cool whip frosting made all the difference. It was delicious!

  • Mary says:

    It is so funny to read the different seasons everyone is in. We have 8 children. The first is a 14 year old boy followed by twin 12 year old boys. I hardly know what leftovers are even with tripling the recipe and two side dishes!! 🙂

  • Delorise says:

    I went to a local thrift store and bought two like new dish towels for 75 cents each– much better price than a department store price or even Walmart . I also did a Wendys survey recently so I got a full size apple pecan salad ( made two meals out of this by adding some diced apples the 2nd meal) , free senior drink (there are benefits to getting older) and free frostie ( paid $1.00 in January for a key chain tag that entitles you to a free small frostie with purchase for all of 2015. I will get my $1.00’s worth ten times over.) I had a great lunch and left over salad for dinner for just $4.82 –not a bad price for 2 meals. More times than not when eating out I bring home half– great for the pocketbook and my thighs.

  • Michele says:

    I share a car with my community college daughter. We both have crazy schedules and somehow make it work. To relieve the juggle and to help her get some rest (she goes to school full time and works 2 jobs), I am blessed to have coworkers that are willing to give me a ride a few days a week. That saves my daughter and I time and money. It also has helped me with time management.
    My house has never been cleaner and my life is not Go Go Go.
    In 6 months, my daughter will be transferring to Liberty U.
    My coworkers and I are already talking about continuing the carpooling.

  • Deanna says:

    I never have leftovers for supper… I hate convenience food so I eat them all for lunch during the week, no need to “fix” lunch. My kids still eat a lot of pb&j’s but it is their choice. :-p

    • Alexis says:

      We do the exact same thing. I “fix” my husband’s lunch for work each day, but that is usually just wrapping up some leftovers. He likes it better and it is much easier on me!

  • Vickie says:

    We had a breakfast out the other morning and brought home the leftovers, one biscuit and hashbrowns. I heated them up the next morning and added to eggs for my husband’s breakfast. He loved it.

  • Kathleen says:

    We have 2 teenagers + preteen. All boys. Leftovers? Nope. Don’t have any. Ever. BUT we don’t ever throw away spoiled food either. It never lasts long enough! To save money, I have them work for their food. Seriously. In the garden, all growing season long.

  • Diane says:

    We just have 5 in our family including toddlers but I still double or triple recipes (or quadruple) so we have leftovers since my husband and I are very active and eat more than most people. I don’t think I could handle cooking lunch and dinner every day!

  • Amy says:

    We were planning to have chicken soft tacos for dinner this week, but of course I forgot to buy the tortillas! Instead of making something else or running to the store, I pulled out a bag of tortilla chips and we had chicken nachos instead!

  • I made ham salad with leftover ham. I also made fabric softener instead of buying it.

  • K says:

    I had symptoms of a urinary tract infection coming on. Since I had cranberries in the freezer from when they were on sale over the holidays, I made homemade cranberry juice & have been drinking that all week. Since the symptoms are all but gone (I’ll make another batch of juice to be sure it’s gone), I don’t need to buy antibiotics or pay for a doctor appointment.
    I also only spent $1.06 on groceries last week & will be eating out of the freezer/pantry this month. I have at least seven homemade freezer meals in the freezer that need eaten, so are on the menu this month.

  • Connie says:

    Reading this blog encouraged me to start cooking for the freezer. Once I got going I now cook 2-3 times a week (always x2, x3 or even x4), eat the meal twice that week and have 1-2 more in the freezer. Between the freezer and a few quick backup meals in the pantry there is always a healthy meal to be had. I’m so thankful for the ideas I’ve learned here – I now spend less $ on food and time cooking and more time enjoying my family.
    My favorite money saving idea is to prep my baking mixes – muffins, brownies, cookies, breads, etc. in a ziploc with instructions and store them in the freezer. My husband appreciates it too and regularly cooks weekend pancakes/waffles now because it’s all set to go. Thank you so much for all the ideas and keep them coming.

  • Tamara says:

    We have always eaten leftovers, but usually skip a night – or my husband takes a plate for his lunch the next day. When you are raised by people who lived through The Depression you learn to NEVER throw away good food. Even if it is a table full of little bits of this or that (my Grandma called them “scraps” and my cousin calls them “pieces”) they are appreciated, eaten and enjoyed!
    I have been making a pot of soup each week since Christmas – eating some, freezing some, giving some to my dad and others who have been ill or recuperating from surgery.
    We also use reusable shopping bags for groceries but use a few of the plastic grocery bags for our small trash cans. And I love the plastic bags from the cereal boxes! I cluster my trips for errands and since I am now an empty nester there are several days each week my car does not leave my driveway. Not in a room? The lights are off, including most power strips. I wash clothes only in cold water.

    • Ashley P says:

      I was raised by my grandmother, too! We never threw things away. She re-purposed EVERYTHING. Even scraps of fabric from dresses she made me. She would use them to decorate Christmas ornaments. I still have all of them.

      She grew up in a small town in NC during the Depression, the oldest of 7 children. You HAD to be frugal to survive, and she passed a lot of her wisdom on to me. 🙂

  • Megan says:

    We put leftovers on the menu atleast once a week…..the menu says CORN & the whole family knows that means Clean Out Refrigerator Night. It makes me crazy to throw out leftovers so we started this about six months ago and it’s been awesome!

  • I thought almost the same thing this week – as we ate leftovers a couple times! We also saved by using gift cards to purchase picture frames for our hall. The project is getting done (after almost 3 years!) and with only a couple dollars out of pocket, after gift cards!

  • Jaime says:

    It’s a little silly, but I bought my kids’ Valentine cards for school on clearance last year for 90% off. I spent 30 cents for each box instead of three dollars, and could just pull them out of the closet. Grocery money saved in this week’s budget!

    • Amie says:

      I did the same thing a few years ago, but then my oldest son fell in love with Spiderman so I bought those and held onto the clearance ones. Since I now have a one year-old, I pulled out the old Toy Story Valentine’s Day cards. I figured, what one year-old cares? lol. I still have some other left over V-Day cards and plan to buy some candy at the Dollar store to tape on them next year.

  • Debbie says:

    Once a week we eat at our favorite restaurant and have the buffet with a new dessert. A.k.a. Mom’s kitchen with heated leftovers set on the counter and some easy dessert (pudding or jello). We might even fancy up the table with placemats. It’s all how you sell it to the kids and husband. 😉

  • Anna says:

    I wanted to take my son to the nearest town (16 miles) to get Valentine’s but decided to find a free printable. I had them printed at our local newspaper which only was $1 for full color and cardstock. Saved money on gas and the cards. Now, on a side note, today I was looking for a card for my husband for Valentine’s day. I found one I liked, didn’t look at the price, and it was $5.29!! For ONE card. I should have told the cashier to keep it. I’m bringing it back. That’s ridiculous!

  • Missy says:

    We eat leftovers for lunch everyday which saves us tons! This week we had a lot of french onion soup leftover which I didn’t feel like eating again so the next night I made a french onion soup casserole by adding noodles, cheese and tuna. It sounds a little weird, but it was good! Re-making leftovers is a great way to save!

  • Meredith says:

    The most creative thing I did this week to save money was to set aside the wrapping ribbon that was tied to my toddler’s grocery store balloon. They always offer him one for free when we stop in there (simple single colored latex w/helium), and he never says no. 🙂 He loves to play with them until they start to sink, then we cut the wrapping ribbon off and play catch 🙂 The wrapping ribbon can be reused as long as you take a scissor’s edge along it and curl it. I’m saving these pieces to decorate our neighbor and teacher/school staff presents for this coming winter (they have several bulky pieces and will be wrapped in clear cellophane). I started doing this when my oldest was a young toddler. When he was born we made it a point to work on being more ‘green,’ and while I loved that he loved freebie store/restaurant balloons, I felt so guilty throwing them away when they were deflated; keeping the ribbon out of the landfill and reusing it made me feel a little better – and it’s saved us a little money on every present we’ve given in the last 7 or so years because I never buy wrapping ribbon anymore!

  • Yda says:

    We have been eating leftover for lunch since we got married three years ago. I always cook extra at dinner because that will be my husband’s lunch for work and my lunch at home (take a sandwich with me when I work full day). It works great for us.
    How did I save last week? We celebrated my daughter’s second birthday with a party at a children’s venue: I paid for it for selling her clothes/toys and my clothes on Facebook groups, I made around $300 within three months. I used $25 Target gift card from Swagbucks to buy snacks. We didn’t use any of our income for the party, everyone had a great time!

  • sarah o. says:

    We took part in Produce on Wheels and got 60lbs of veggies for only $10 and have made tons of meals with them.

  • Melissa says:

    My husband and I wanted to go to the art museum, but by planning ahead we were able to pick up tickets for free from our local library. That saved us $30 in admission. It was a very fun free outing.

    I also saved money by waiting til half off day at the thrift store to buy the work clothes I wanted.

  • Paula says:

    Leftover day is called MustGos… or even Mustgo Soup. My husband will call the soups made with leftovers CanNeverHaveItAgain recipe and usually loves these! Many times his favorite.

  • Leftovers is the only way I can afford to NOT eat out almost everyday. I usually cook something large on Sunday and eat that for dinners during the week. Sure it’s a little boring, but it is frugal and a LOT more healthy than McDonalds!

  • This month I have been blogging daily about my No-Spend challenge, and my goal of saving $1,000.00 this month; yesterday I cleaned my closet out using the 40 hanger system. Next week the clothes will be sold or donated, saving me the hassle of having a closet full of clothes that I have outgrown, or simply won’t use. I saved my re-purposing my closet! http://theladyprefers2save.com/?p=11645

  • Ashley P says:

    We always make dinner in large batches, so every other night is usually leftover night. I also take them to work for lunch. Today, it’s a pork chop with rice and carrots. While everyone else is scarfing down burgers and ramen at work, I’m having a healthy home cooked meal! And it saves money. Win-win. 🙂

  • We are saving money this week by taking advantage of a local churches free baby sitting program tonight. Every few months they offer a free parents night out. It is for 4 hours and they have snack and a ton of fun things for our kids to do! We have made a commitment to go out on a date once a month this year. Babysitting alone costs us $60 for a date night so this is a huge savings for us!

  • susie says:

    My husband likes to eat the same thing day in and day out so he always eats leftovers! I like to make a bunch of meat, then use it many different ways during the week, because i get tired of leftovers unless its steak!

  • Denise says:

    We eat leftovers a lot. My parents took us out on Sunday. The baked potato that was brought to us by mistake was part of breakfast Monday. Their favorite is when I make a pork roast and then turn the leftovers into bbq pork sandwiches later on in the week. Or with leftover chicken I make quesadillas.

  • Allyson says:

    We always use leftovers. Not every meal produces leftovers but whenever there is any food still in the pot/casserole dish/etc at the end of a meal, I get out my plastic containers and make a “lunch” meal for my husband to take to work. I immediately label and stick these in the freezer so he can just grab a container and go each morning! Some meals have several containers of leftovers while others do not have leftovers so by freezing them and rotating, he always has a lunch available even if there were not leftovers the previous night. Also, by freezing them, he can mix the meals up so if he had stuffed shells for dinner, he does not have to have stuffed shells the very next day for lunch but can pick something different and save the stuffed shells for a later date.

  • I LOVE leftovers! It’s a sad day when there aren’t any left;0)

    This week I saved by having the lenses in my glasses replaced instead of buying new frames! $15 out of pocket … woot woot!

  • Amanda says:

    We love leftovers too! I always plan enough extra for lunches too- my dad always gives me a hard time for making too much food when he visits. I don’t think he “gets” that my husband and I bring our lunch at least 4 and most often 5 days a week. My oldest has been devouring much more food lately. He’s almost 8… Reading some of these comments I’m getting scared about how much more I will need to start fixing!

  • Jamie says:

    I rearranged my fridge a few years back and put leftovers on the top shelf so we know what needs to be eaten right now and for my four boys they know what’s available. They’ve never complained about leftovers, they complain when there isn’t any real food to eat as they would choose that over snack foods.
    I figured out a long time ago that every meal doesn’t have to be gourmet, but three times a day four boys and two parents need to eat and be filled up. They don’t care for fast food and when we do have to eat out they are hungry a short time later. So I try to make sure I’ve made enough for another meal at least and usually reheating in the oven or on the stove makes a huge difference in taste.

  • Marie says:

    My kids love leftover night. They pick what they want and it’s always a hit. Or some nights we do whatever you want. Maybe it’s oatmeal or cereal or eggs and toast but it’s simple and everyone’s happy. Another favorite is Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)
    Tonight I saved money by calling my friend and asking for inspiration. It was the crazy hour and already past 4:00 and kids were fighting and being loud and honestly I had no energy left. I know there wasn’t really money in the envelope to splurge and eat out. But I had nothing out. She told me what they were having and I realized I had almost all the ingredients and it wouldn’t take long. I thrawed some shrimp and cooked up some hamburger and we had taco’s and shrimp tacos. The shrimp taco’s were amazing. My husband actually helped cook it up so I could run down the street for just a couple things, which gave me time to breath and not feel like I was in a pressure cooker. After dinner we were able to put the 4yr old to bed and have a family game night with the others. It ended up being a great evening and didn’t really cost us anyting except a few dollars!
    It’s great to have friends who can help you think when you are spent emotionally and physically!

  • Amie says:

    I was feeling run down this week after fighting off a cold and picked up pizza and Italian cheese bread for $10. I served it with fruit one evening, had leftovers for lunch, and served the rest of it with different fruit that evening. I really wish I had taken the time to think about what was already in my freezer. I had spaghetti pie already made and had just forgotten about it. Oh well, at least I made the most of the meal. My big savings were actually on clothes. I received a $10/$10 or more JCP coupon and a $10/$10 or more lingerie JCP coupon. I stopped by after work and they had some “Door Buster” sales. I was able to get a new bra and 5 panties for $21. I saved over $70 off the regular price. I was happy with that.

  • I saved over $300 on car repairs this week. I wrote about it here http://wildflowerfour.com/how-i-saved-over-300-dollars/

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