Tips from our readers for organizing leftovers and ways to use them. Post your own below.
It is possible to use every bit of leftovers in a different way so there is no waste. Put leftovers in the front of the shelves all the time. If you have a second day of leftovers, place them in back of yesterday's leftovers. You may now have enough to make a chef's salad or a stew. Make your best effort to use the leftovers in a tasty way over the following day or two. You will save a lot of money on groceries and use your imagination at the same time. They are not leftovers anymore, they are "ready to go overs".
By Bev Sobkowich
I use microwave safe covered containers to store leftovers in the fridge. I put a piece of masking tape on the lid and write what it is and when I put it in the fridge with a sharpie marker. It helps my husband to see if there is anything in the leftover dishes that he can have for lunch. And I can determine when it is time to remove anything that has not been used in a timely manner.
By Harlean from Arkansas
I keep 2 gallon containers in my freezer. One I use for any leftovers; veggies, broth, meat, soup, pasta, chopped up leftover baked potatoes. I literally put everything in there whether it's a teaspoon or cup. When it's full, I make soup. I dump the frozen stuff into a soup pot, add equal parts of tomatoes and water to cover the food, simmer for an hour and let the flavors mix. Leftover soup can be frozen in quart bags.
The second container is for chicken soup. I only add leftover chicken, chicken broth and veggies that you normally would find in chicken soup (carrots, peas, etc). When it's full, I put the frozen stuff in my soup pot and cover it with water and add 1 chicken bouillon cube for each quart of water. Simmer for an hour. Each batch is different because your leftovers are different.
Clean an empty container and place in your freezer door. Each night, add that spoonful of left over veggies you would have thrown out. When the container is full, make delicious vegetable soup. Just add meat, stock, and tomato (optional).
We're all thrifty when it comes to leftovers. We know how to make those left over mashed potatoes into Shepherd's Pie, we know how to make potpie out of left over meats. What about those tidbits of leftovers? You know, just a spoonful? What about the other half of the onion that you didn't need or those forgotten tomatoes that aren't really bad but just too soft for salad? This is what I do: I keep a zip lock freezer bag in my freezer marked soup veggies. Each night when I clean the kitchen, I throw that spoonful of green beans, corn or left over rice in that bag (whatever I think will be good in soup). I have a separate freezer bag for meats, like the last piece of roast, meatloaf or chicken. When I want to make soup quick and easy, I open a can of beef broth and add my left over meats and veggies. Let it simmer for as little or as long as I have time for. And my family has a wonderful pot of soup. I even have a freezer bag for beef broth. (I especially like the broth that cooks out of meat in the crock-pot.) This is a quick, easy and basically free meal. You can do the same thing with fruit; it makes a wonderful addition to ice cream. Just peel it, slice it and add a little bit of lemon juice and freeze it.
By Karen in Florida
Just be careful about freezing food that has already been frozen before; such as freezing any leftover soup made from the frozen leftovers. Food is not supposed to be frozen and reheated more than once. Also, I usually cook roast chicken from a previously frozen bird, so I wouldn't want to refreeze any leftover bits. Otherwise, I think this is a brilliant idea and will be saving my next empty ice cream box to freeze my leftovers!
I have made soup the same way, but I also did something a little different that the kids loved. I would save those very small bits each in a piece of foil and I would save some bigger leftovers the same way. Once a week we had pick out night. We warmed up all the foil pieces and you could pick out whatever you wanted to eat. It didn't matter if you had potatoes and pasta both or two meats. No rules-just please yourself. The kids thought it was more fun than a regular meal and something about picking out what they wanted went over so well, that there were never any leftovers after that meal. My son tried to get his wife to do that, but she just doesn't get it.
By Jeane in Texas
I always make a large pot of mashed potatoes when I make them for a meal. Then I pack the leftovers into ziplock bags...enough for one meal in each bag, flatten them to press all the air out, date and seal them and freeze them. To use them, just thaw and heat in the microwave. Fluff them up with a fork and they are good as fresh.
I also have two covered divided plates, and I often put meat, potatoes, and vegetable from our dinner in these plates as I am dishing up our plates for dinner. Cover, Stick a piece of masking tape on the top, and mark the ingredients, and the date, and store in the freezer. For those nites when you are short on time, just pop them in the microwave and heat.
Harlean from Arkansas
It *IS* OK to freeze leftovers as long as they're cooked. It is *NOT* OK to refreeze totally thawed raw meat. If you thaw meat & then cook it you can safely refreeze it. You may also refreeze partially thawed meat as long as there are a goodly amount of ice crystals still in it. You may lose some quality, but it will be safe to eat.
I freeze leftover tomatoe sauce in an ice cube tray, then pop the cubes out into a storage bag; that way you can use just a couple of cubes for a one person batch of spagetti.
I have made butternut squash and sweet potato soup with chicken stock cubes. There is no added meat, fat or dairy. I have frozen it once and am thawing it now but there is too much - can I refreeze it as its mainly water based?
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