Leftovers – A Cook’s Best Friend

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” Calvin Trillin

Someone in a Facebook group I frequent asked the question, “Do you eat/serve leftovers?” I would have thought the obvious answer is, “but of COURSE” but I was surprised by the number of people turning up their noses at the very thought of serving a meal made up of leftovers. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk eating a midday meal of leftover spaghetti and it is nothing short of FABULOUS! There’s something about tomato sauce with herbs and spices sitting in the fridge overnight that does something wonderful to the flavor. The meal was good when I fixed it for my family last night but it’s so much better today now that the flavors have had a chance to blend. Yum-O!! Chili is another food that just tastes better when it’s had a chance to sit for a bit.

In addition to the better flavor, serving leftovers is a food budgeter’s best friend. What a waste it would have been to throw away the leftover food after the meal I fixed last night. While I don’t typically eat out at lunchtime, on the days I don’t have something from the previous night’s meal to take to work I usually have a frozen meal for my lunch. On rare occasion I can find them for under $2 in my grocery store but typically they’re usually around $2.50-$3.00 apiece. Since I buy my ground beef in bulk at Sam’s Club, use store brand pasta, and use a store brand can of crushed tomatoes as the base for the sauce, my homemade spaghetti usually costs between $1 and $1.50 per serving. It doesn’t sound like much savings, but over time it definitely adds up! An added bonus is that I know exactly what’s in it.

While I haven’t started doing it regularly yet, once I get better organized I plan on starting to cook in bulk on the weekends to make my weekdays a little easier. I started that process earlier this week by smoking a pork butt I found on sale before the 4th of July holiday. I paid a bit over $13 for this lovely and smoked it on my Big Green Egg for 10 hours. Oh, my HEAVENS was it good! The size of this piece of meat was MUCH too large for my family of 3 to eat at one sitting so after pulling it I portioned it out and put it in freezer bags. That one day of cooking will provide my family with 4 main course meals and save me a TON of time. It can go straight from the freezer to the table in no more time than it will take to reheat it. SCORE!

Pork Butt

So now I must ask you-do you serve leftovers to your family? If not, why? If so, what are some of your favorites? Please let me know in the comments-I’m always looking for new money saving delicious meal ideas!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

Author: olderwisermoneymiser

I’m a 50-something wife, mom, and full time accounting administrator sharing my observations about life and money.

32 thoughts on “Leftovers – A Cook’s Best Friend”

  1. I could talk about cooking – both bulk and leftovers – all day! One of my ‘specialties’ is turning leftovers into something brand new. Another is using Sunday afternoon to do all the prep work for meals. I used a divided dip tray (circle in the center with divided parts for chips, veggies, etc) to store chopped green onions, ginger, cilantro, celery, carrots, broccoli, etc – those items that take time to prep and often get left out when making weeknight meals in a hurry. Buying these items pre-cut can get expensive. I could go on and on….

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  2. I used to hate leftovers. I don’t want to deal with cold gravy or congealed fat on meat. Yuck. But then I married a chef who loves leftovers. So long as he’s dealing with what’s in the fridge and remaking it into something that I’ll want to eat (which he always does) then I’m ok with leftovers now.

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    1. I try not to pay attention to what it looks like right out of the fridge-it can be pretty gross but once it’s reheated most leftovers smell heavenly and taste so much better than when they were fresh! Thanks!!

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  3. We call them ‘orts’ (is that just a UK thing?). I tend to cook extra so there are leftovers for the next meal. For example left over boiled potatoes may be a potato salad and/or used in an omelette with other left over vegetables. Sometimes I plan a whole week’s menu around how the left over bit of one meal will contribute to the next.

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  4. My husband is the main cook at our house. He doesn’t care too much for leftovers, but spaghetti is great leftover. He makes stuffed cabbage rolls that are even better the second time around. Another favorite is vegetable beef soup!

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  5. I plan my meals either one or two weeks in advance, and the leftovers are planned for lunches the next day. On the rare occasion that I find myself without leftovers for lunch I find myself a bit stumped as to what to send to work with Hubby. Since we eat keto based meals (that’s low carb/high fat for anyone who doesn’t know), everything has to be made scratch, and from more expensive ingredients, so leftovers are a very important part of budgeting in our house. Hubby’s favorite leftovers are tacos. I usually make 3 lbs of taco meat at once and we have taco salads, quesadillas and burritos for several days afterward. The low carb Mission tortillas make that possible for those of us who don’t want to spend the time making tortillas. I do make my own, but it is time consuming.

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  6. I don’t like to cook so I am a big fan of leftovers. You are right, there is something about past, and chili and other things that is better the next day. I could eat leftovers from a big pot of soup all week. I plan to have leftovers so I don’t have to cook every day! I found you on MLSTL.

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  7. Heck yes, I serve leftovers! As a matter of fact, I usually cook to have extra for the week and to freeze. My mother taught me to “cook for an army”, and I am also a huge fan of the one skillet meal and crock pot. My family knows that I will “cook big” once during the week and once over the weekend. I have also enjoyed switching over to cooking in an electric skillet most of the time, easy clean-up and does not heat up the house so much. I actually love cooking, but my creative meals and main course with all of the trimmings have fallen away as we are pretty much empty nesters now. We used to host big dinner parties with multiple friends at a time. Kids grow up, people move, I kind of miss that social time, but going out once or twice each month is new fun! Thanks for the post 😀
    #MLSTL

    Lori Jo – http://www.50withflair.com

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  8. Left over stir fry, like leftover takeout Chinese food, is so much better than on the original day. My father, a Scot, wouldn’t allow leftovers in our home at all. The word was always uttered with a curled lip and a bit of a snarl. But now, now leftovers are terrific! #MLSTL
    P.S. – I have a Big Green Egg too. Aren’t they wonderful!

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  9. We do but mainly for lunch the next day. For example, if we make a salad or vegetables, my husband just loves using the leftovers next day on a sandwich. The idea of cooking in bulk is a great idea and certainly frees up your time. Thanks for sharing with us at #MLSTL it is lovely to have you join us again this week.
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We often eat left-overs in our house, but I must say that I’m a pretty frugal cook, so usually I cook exactly the right amount for our needs and there is no surplus. On the occasions when there is more than expected, we’re happy to have it for lunch or dinner the following day. I hate waste and throwing food out so that’s never been an option for us. I don’t tend to bulk cook because I get tired of too many repeats of the same meal – especially with only two of us to eat it!

    Visiting from #MLSTL and to let you know I’ve shared this on my SM xx

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  11. I have always cooked to have leftovers for the next days’ lunch for both myself and husband. We had a large family when I was growing up and rarely had leftovers. lol I need to get better at meal planning.

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  12. I love Trillin’s quote 🙂
    I, too, enjoy leftovers – often more than the original meal. My favorite is Thanksgiving leftovers. I intentionally buy a turkey twice the size I need just so I can make turkey sandwiches, turkey tetrazzini, and turkey divan.

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