Forget Leftovers! Make Entrée Encores

“Oh, not again!” “I’m tired of that!” “Ah, I’m not hungry anyway…” If you’ve heard any of these – or one of the numerous variations thereof – than you’re likely the person not only trying to stretch the family dollar via the culinary route, but trying to minimize unnecessary waste as well.


It’s not an easy job. I know, I do it also. It needn’t be a chore for you, though, or for those you love to eat it, either. The key is to avoid making and serving leftovers and instead make entrée encores that everyone will not only love, but actually ask for over and over again. Keep reading to find out how.

Know the ingredients’ strengths and weaknesses. I’ll be the first to admit that it makes good sense to prepare meals in bulk. You save time by prepping the ingredients only once. You create convenience by having meals ready to go when you need them with minimal effort. You save money by purchasing the ingredients in bulk. Problem is, who wants to eat the same thing over and over. Not only that, depending upon the ingredients, the quality of the food may diminish the longer it’s stored or the more times it’s reheated. Fortunately, though, you needn’t stop the practice entirely. Instead, consider the inherit characteristics of the specific ingredients. Consider packaging and freezing homemade soups, for example, in smaller portions sans the rice, noodles or pasta. You’ll be able to store it for a much longer period of time and then simply pull it out, thaw and reheat, adding the additional ingredients later just prior to serving.

Transform what’s left entirely. Become a magician of the culinary kind by giving what’s left on the dinner table a complete overhaul prior to reheating and eating. Leftover stew or soups can be thickened up and turned into pot pies via a quick puff pastry or biscuit top. Stale bread can be transformed into savory croutons or rich, yummy bread pudding. A few leftover, wrinkling baked potatoes may not look very appetizing the second time around, but peel and cube them to create a homemade cream of potato soup and you’ve likely got an instant winner on your hands – and on your table – in no time.

Invest time and money in ingredients that effortlessly do double or even triple duty. Reheating and serving leftover meals isn’t the only way to save money, minimize waste and cut preparation time. Think divide, conquer and prep individual ingredients as well to do the same. Prepare and bake chicken in bulk. Roast an entire tray of vegetables rather than just a few. Consider browning up several pounds of ground beef rather than just what’s needed. Many individual ingredients can be prepared in advance and stored for future use solo. Enabling you to determine the exact amount portioned out and used at any given time, leaving the remainder untouched, but ready to go for a brand new meal in the future. Your family will enjoy the variety of meals you’re able to whip up with seemingly minimal effort and you’ll enjoy the very real savings when it comes to both convenience, time and money.

Photo credit: love_yellow

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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