money stretching meal ideas I picked up from my Grammy
Money Matters Recipes

Master of Disguise

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.

Me & my Grammy circa 1973

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Any leftover veggies for the week can go in a bowl and be frozen for soup.
  5. 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.

What money stretching meal ideas things do you have?

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18 thoughts on “Master of Disguise

  1. I use up leftovers too! I also cook a little extra on the weekends for the freezer or lunches. Or weeknight meals for busy nights.

    Boneless skinless chicken breasts are always on sale at Kroger. At $1.59-1.99 a pound they are waaaay cheaper than deli meat. Bake your chicken breasts with seasonings; use a thermometer so you don’t over cook them. You can also grill. The first night they are baked chicken with whatever sides you want.

    1) They can be sliced on a wrap sandwich or bread for lunch the next day.
    2) Chicken Quesadillas, brown a tortilla in a frying pan with some shredded cheese and sliced chicken. Fold in half, cut in triangles and serve with sour cream and salsa. If you buy the BIG tortillas, one is enough
    3) Cube the chicken. Cook elbow noodles, Mix the cooled noodles, chicken, peas and mayo with seasonings for a chicken salad.
    4) Slice it on a salad
    5) Make tortilla pie. Layer chicken, tortillas, refried beans, cheese and enchilada sauce. Bake
    6) Saute mushrooms, fry bacon. Slice the chicken, Layer chicken, mushrooms, bacon and monterey jack cheese. Bake and serve with a side.
    7) Chicken salad sandwiches.
    8) Pasta Roni boxed noodles with chicken sliced up in it and some frozen peas. YUM

    Pork Roast
    Roast a pork butt with potatoes and carrots. Dinner
    1) Shred leftover pork and warm with BBQ sauce. Pork Sandwiches.
    2) Cube leftover pork and warm with taco seasoning. Pork Burritos
    3) Pork pot pie

    Chuck Roast, cook like the pork butt for dinner. Make gravy.
    1) Use leftover beef and potatoes to make hash.
    2) Slice beef then and make sandwiches.

    I also buy chuck roasts when they are BOGO and stew them. It is a bit time consuming; but I completely cube them up. I cut out all the gristle and most of the fat. I brown them with salt and pepper a small batch at a time. Then cook the cubes with a little wine in my crock pot. I divide up the nicely tender chunks. Beef stew the first night. I freeze the rest of it in portions for hubby and I.
    1) Beef and Peapods. I add teriyaki marinade to the broth. Throw some peapods in and serve it over rice. Sometimes I even add carrots and celery.
    2) I warm it up; make a gravy and serve it over egg noodles. You can add sour cream too!
    3) Shred it and serve aujus for a french dip sandwich.

    Ground beef I could go on forever. But I buy the big packages at Costco, brown the whole thing.
    1) Tator Tot casserole
    2) Tacos or Burritos
    3) Goulash

    I also will make a huge batch of meatballs. Bake them in the oven on cookie sheets. Then freeze them. Meatballs can be just plain, with BBQ sauce, in a stroganoff sauce, Or added to jarred spaghettis sauce.

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