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Rethink Leftovers!

(sorry for crummy picture quality. This was taken without intention to be seen by anyone, but alex)

I've mentioned it before, but we live off leftovers over here. I typically plan a few possibly-maybe meals in my head for the week and then go on my cravings or Marlowe's mood and cravings. I'll tell you, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to running to the store to pick up one or two things. I like to make one big trip every one to two weeks and work with what I've got. Also, I've noticed our bill goes higher with the quick "let me run and get this" days and weeks---- because every time we run in to get one thing---- we tend to grab 3-4 extra things we could have lived without. I wrote this post---- an organic/vegan shopping list... over two years ago. By planning out a few meals, living off leftovers, and re-working leftovers, I was saving quite a bit of money while still eating organic. Things have changed a lot in that two and a half years. We've added a carnivore to our household and a growing, super (snack) hungry toddler. While our vegetable, grain, and basic need list/prices have stayed basically the same.... by adding extra fruits, dried cereals, packaged yogurts, the occasional box of cookies, coffee, and egg and dairy products, I've seen a HUGE increase in our shopping bill. 
We're actually currently in the process of over-looking our spending to see where can we cut back and save more--- and our food list is top on the list to be re-worked. In the meantime (and for forever), I'm still leftover queen. Because leftovers, sometimes as boring and as purposely overlook-able they may seem---- are still a huge way to save money and a great chance to sometimes make something new. Sure sometimes it takes work, and some food maybe not have the same loved consistency the next day----- but realistically: soups and sauces taste better the next day, eating leftovers removes an opportunity to waste, and sometimes it can be fun to put your creative mind to work to create a whole new dish. (think of yourself as a top-chef contestant if you'd like ;)

You've seen these images before, but here is what I did last week. Marlowe wanted pizza. We made a basic sauce. Basil, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes. The next day, we wanted soup, Alex recommended a tortilla soup, I made a creamy tortilla soup. I used the leftover sauce and water as a base/broth. With carrots, a pepper, celery, more onion, spanish herbs and spices, and tortillas. When storing the soup after the meal, the extra corn made it in pot. The next day I cooked down the soup, added more corn, added more indian spices (to the oregano, cumin, basil, and chipolte, and paprika that were there) and let chickpeas simmer and served over rice. And tada! One base sauce, three meals. Food can be overwhelming when starting out (I didn't even try to start cooking until I was 22--- I was a mock-meat/pizza/french fry-atarian before then) but once you get down a few basics and spice combo, meals can be fun and easy (and all these were SUPER quick too!). 

Happy creative money saving leftover eating, friends :) 

23 comments:

  1. Even though I (mostly) feel like we have a good grocery budget, I know there's always room for improvement, so I love this post! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. i love this post! i'm totally the same way- my husband and i eat leftovers all the time. i purposefully make a large meal that we can eat for several days. i just don't have the ability to be creative in the kitchen every night of the week.

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  3. Agh! That's awesome. I really wish I could get to this point of comfort just throwing things together. Maybe I just have to be adventurous and try. I don't know. I get in food slumps and just make the same things over and over, or need a recipe to adventure. New Year's Resolution maybe??

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    1. def. a new years resolution. unless you try something completely outlandish, chances are it will taste at decent at the very least, rarely bad.... you're going to be cooking with ingredients you like anyway, right? ;)

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  4. love this! I loathe wasting food and any tips are so useful. We also prefer to do a bigger shop rather than spend more money doing little ones. But I am 5 months pregnant and I will admit I am picking up little bits on the way home becuase if I am craving something I just have to have it for supper!!! hehe

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  5. This is totally how most of my weeks go, too- I really need to get better at actual menu planning. That creamy tortilla soup sounds delish- recipe??

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    1. I'm hoping with Alex's upcoming job change... there will be more time for recipes..... and maybe book making?!

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  6. This is great! I have been a vegan since February 11, 2012, but my husband is still a hardcore carnivore. Do you have any posts or ideas on how-to cook meals to please vegans and carnivores? Or ways to add in animal products to certain vegan meals to make it "taste good" to carnivores? I've been struggling lately on making meals that work for both of us.

    Thanks for any advice you have! :)

    Chalayn

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    1. Well, If I'm cooking, I'm cooking vegan. A few times I've made special dishes with for him with real cheese/butter... but a meal here is a meal everyone can eat... and then here can add real cheese too or eggs or whatever... depending on the dish. Alex rarely rarely eats at home anyway.... and working in a restaurant he can pretty much get a meat fix in everyday.

      We'll typically do like bean taco and he can put as much cheese on top as he likes and M and we have all the other always accidentally normally vegan toppings too. Or we'll do pasta's... red or summer vegetables... which don't need meat by any means to be good. We don't use mock meat here anyway.... but if we did, I wouldn't try to feed it to him to meet a meat need, ya know? We just stick to naturally vegan dishes anyway.

      One person in the vegan community I made (https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/105782085115483077819) said what they do is there husband buys a chicken a week (or something like that) and prepares it how he likes, outside on the grill I believe, cuts it up into portions, and then he can add it to their family dinner as he pleases. Seems like a pretty good agreement to me!

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  7. I always liked trying new recipes, but I only really learned to cook when I moved in with my boyfriend. Curries always taste better the next day. We usually just eat leftovers as they are, but the other day I had leftover beans and rice, so I came up with a mexican salad. But then I also had some of the salad left over in the end :)A while back I made guacamole that we didn't really like, so I added a bit of vegan cheese to it and made stuffed green peppers. It didn't even taste like avo anymore, it had a whole new delicious flavour.

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    1. ooof. I could go for some curry. And that all sounds brilliant!

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  8. i love this idea! i typically struggle with leftovers. we usually eat them one more day (after the initial day of eating) and then i toss whatever is left over. i totally need to try to create a new dish with leftovers.

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  9. 1st time poster here! I love this post! Such a practical concept that I really need to be reminded of. I'm so guilty of running to the store for 1 thing and coming back with way too much. In fact, it happened yesterday! Whoops.

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  10. The thing I run to the store most often for are fruits/veggies, because we have a green grocer right down the road. That being said, I love the idea of trying to plan some meals for the week (we fell off our planning wagon towards the end of the school year, but we're ready to try it again). Also, reusing leftovers. I hate eating the same thing day after day, but it's fun to figure out a fresh new recipe with the leftovers. We had tons of turkey leftover after Thanksgiving last year, so I made some turkey pot pie. Mmm.


    The Rambling Fangirl

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    1. mmmmm now I want a pot pie. I made a potato-y corn soup today.... it's def. going to thicken... might be perfect for pot pie tomorrow!

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  11. Great post! We re-work left overs too! Very practical...waste not, want not :)

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  12. "I was a mock-meat/pizza/french fry-atarian before then". This is so me. I need help and guidance. I'm trying but I feel overwhelmed when it comes to food and cooking decent meals. I live with a picky lactose intolerant carnivore, an even pickier toddler, who has weird texture issues and myself, a vegetarian who would eat cupcakes every day if possible.

    Do they make cookbooks for us? Ha... I think not.

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    1. well, the pickier toddler, it's def. about not giving them other options. I didn't give marlowe ice-cream until she was almost two I think? now sometimes, very rarely she'll eat a small small bowl, but most of the time she turns it away. it's hard, but its def. about developing taste buds to not want the bad stuff (for adults too!) For me, it was a detox that really switched me over. You're only supposed to eat very limited things.... and it forced me to get creative. It also made me get over my addiction to cheese (if you didn't know it has addictive chemical in it, it does. look it up!). After that I was like, well this is kind of fun and I feel great! so I kept going. For me, I started making soups. It was easy, not super hard to botch and you can add different spices and herbs slowly, tasting the whole way to see what works. It was the best transitional food thing for me to make!

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  13. A great post, and a great reminder to use leftovers. I'm not brilliant at this I must admit, although there aren't often many things leftover in this house!

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    1. It depends what we make, but I usually try to make a big batch of whatever I cook so it saves me time later! but also, there's really only two of us eating here and sometimes an Alex.

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  14. great post!! I'm a leftovers girl as well, can't call myself queen yet hahah! such a great way to cut down on wasting food and money.

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  15. Ahh I needed this. I'm trying to become better with cooking but I get so overwhelmed that I dont know where to start. The dishes look great!

    xx
    josie
    www.straightnochase.com

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