I love to share information. Usually, I share about my life struggles and trials and victories, but today, I want to share a few money stretching meal ideas.
My Grammy never really shared her money stretching meal ideas but she sure lived them.
She was the queen of disguised leftovers. Yesterday’s leftover English peas became today’s pea salad and yesterday’s leftover roast chicken was destined for greatness in chicken stir fry!
Russell and I have raised 4 kids on (mostly) one income and I have had to learn a little about how to do this and that is what I want to talk about today – money stretching meals made with leftovers. I have discovered people don’t dislike leftovers as much if they don’t realize they are leftovers!
And, let’s face it, if we stretch a meal, we stretch a dollar. With Christmas right around the corner, who doesn’t want to do that?
What else could this be the main ingredient for?
The two main things to ask yourself when you looking for a good food remake is, “what could this be a main ingredient for?” and “is there enough?” It really is that simple.
If there isn’t enough for any one meal, toss it in a freezer container or ziplock and freeze it. It may take a couple of times of leftover taco meat to make another meal, but you can do it. Write on it what it is…trust me on this one, you will forget. I know you have good intentions, but just trust me. Masking tape (for the containers) and a sharpie like your grandma used – well my grandmas used – will help you here.
Let’s start with a simple one.
Ground beef. It is as cheap as any meat (which still isn’t cheap) and can be the basis (at least in the South) for a lot of common meals.
Side note: I don’t live with a bunch of real picky eaters and I’m sure there are some with refined palates that will think all of this is hogwash, but it has worked for me.
Let’s say we brown ground beef for tacos. Tomorrow, the taco shells are gone, but we have ground beef leftover. Meat is expensive and I hate to toss it out. What could it be? Mix it with jarred spaghetti sauce and we can have spaghetti (No one in my house has ever said, “this spaghetti tastes like tacos” nor have the said “little light on the meat in this sauce” – if they do, explain that you are trying to smart with money!)
We could mix the leftover meat with a few sautéd diced carrots and some frozen peas. Top that with some mashed potatoes and cheese and bake until it’s all warm and melty and you have Mexican shepherd’s pie.
Try sautéing some garlic and onions (and celery if you like it – me, I hate the stuff) add the meat and some stewed tomatoes. Pour that on some cooked elbow macaroni noodles for a tasty goulash. You could also just toss it into some cooked macaroni and cheese for Mexican cheesy mac.
Of course, the easy go to here is soup. Add a salad and some toasted bread and you have a great meal!
With all of these, remember seasonings are your friend!
You can do this!
Here are a few more ideas:
- Baked or roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes cooked in the oven on day one. On day two, chop the leftovers and add a little cream of ? soup (or make your own roux) and put it all between a couple of pie crusts. Who doesn’t love chicken pot pie? Ok well, in all my honesty, my husband doesn’t, but most people do. Another option here is to put the filling in a pan and top it with biscuits and bake until the biscuits are done.
- Got a little leftover lasagna? Chop the noodles, add beef broth (or vegetable), and a couple of cans of diced tomatoes. Use some garlic and Italian seasoning to liven up the flavor and serve your delicious Italian tomato noodle soup sprinkled with parmesan and a slice of garlic toast on the side.
- A little bit of leftover steak with some peppers, onions and cheese become excellent quesadillas. Mixed with some spaghetti sauce and cheese and make steak calzones.
- Any leftover veggies for the week can go in a bowl and be frozen for soup.
- Have a little leftover meatloaf? Break it up and add to the veggies from all week and make beef and vegetable soup.
I really try to cook things that are more healthy than most of these options, but I am also a woman of necessity. If my real need today is to feed my family and save a buck, I will do what needs to be done.