Tasty Ways to Add New Life to Leftovers

New Life for LeftoversSo what do you do with those odd leftovers…you can freeze them, sure. But how about giving them a new life and turning them into a new dish altogether? Instead of re-inventing the wheel when creating a new meal, use the leftovers to give you a head start. Here are a few ideas.

Leftover Hamburgers

A few leftover hamburgers from your cookout don’t have to go to waste. You can always crumble those burgers up and use them in new dishes. Combine with a marinara sauce and add pasta for a yummy Italian meal. Toss in a skillet and add taco seasonings and water, simmer for 10 minutes and make short work of a taco dinner.

Fried Chicken

Pull the skin off of the chicken (works great for takeout chicken too) and chop. Mix with mayo, a little celery and onion, and a dash of garlic salt, and you have chicken salad to use in sandwiches or wraps. Or, mix the chicken with a jar of white sauce, boil some pasta and you have easy chicken fettuccine.

Beef Roast

Open a jar of pre-made gravy, mix with shredded roast and pour atop toast for an open-faced hot beef sandwich. If you like Italian beef, shred your leftover roast and add to a slow cooker with sliced onion and green pepper, a packet of onion soup mix and water. All you need are some fresh onion rolls, and dinner is served!

Pork Roast

Shred leftover pork roast, add barbecue sauce and some rolls and you’ll have the makings for pulled pork sandwiches.

Hardboiled Eggs (think after Easter!)

Chop up and toss into a bed of greens, add a few extra veggies and chopped lunch meat for a hearty chef salad. You can also add mayonnaise, minced onion and celery, along with paprika to create egg salad for sandwiches.

Pasta

You can make a wonderful pasta salad with that leftover pasta! Toss with Italian dressing, diced tomatoes, peppers and onion for a quick pasta salad.

Rice

Add your choice of chopped veggies, tossed until crisp-tender, and create a stir-fry. Add any of the above leftover meats for a heartier meal.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.

Photo Credit: iClipart

Cut Your Budget with Plan Ahead Weekday Dinner Prep

Cut your Budget with Plan Ahead Weekly Meal PrepWe all know how easy it is to get sucked into the drive-through or to pick up that takeout menu and order dinner, but it’s hard on our wallets. With a little planning, we can avoid those traps.

1) Make a Plan

I like to cook on Sundays, and have meals ready to go for Monday through Wednesday. Thursday then becomes “leftover day.” You choose what works best for you and your schedule.

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7 Ways to Save Money at the Grocery Store

There are many ways to stretch your budget a little further. One way to do this is by making small changes in the way you shop for groceries.

Yes, comparison shopping and clipping coupons are effective methods of saving money—but here are some other things you can do to make your trip to the grocery a success:

1. Write down a grocery list and stick to it.

Create a grocery list containing everything you need for the week and bring this list with you to the store. Do your absolute best to buy only the things written down on your list so you won’t be tempted to spend on unnecessary items.

2. Eat before shopping.

Yes, I know how silly it sounds – but grocery shopping on a full stomach can help save you a lot of money. You are more likely to make impulse purchases when you’re hungry.

3. Shop alone.

If possible, find a day and time when you can do your grocery shopping without your children. Without your kids, there will be no rushing and hurrying to get out of the store. You’ll be able to concentrate on finding great deals instead of dealing with your children’s misbehavior and sudden cravings.

4. Look around.

Grocery stores often put more expensive items at eye level so they are easier for you to see and want. Be sure to look around and compare your options. You might find better deals on the lowest and highest shelves.

5. Stockpile with caution.

When an item is on sale, you tend to purchase more than you actually need. There’s no problem with stockpiling on items like toilet tissue and shampoo, which are items you use on a daily basis. However, be extra careful when purchasing perishable items. Food items sold at bargain prices often mean that their expiration dates are nearing. Always check an item’s expiration date before buying.

6. Avoid the temptation of the checkout stand.

As you’re lining up at the cash register, be wary of purchasing anything from the checkout stand. The checkout stand is full of enticing little items like candy, batteries, magazines, and other items that you might want to purchase at the very last minute. It might take some willpower, but you’ll likely be glad you didn’t buy that chocolate bar later.

7. Keep an eye on the scanner.

Everyone makes mistakes. It is very possible that you could be charged full price for an item that is actually on sale, or an item may accidentally be scanned twice. Keep an eye on the scanner to make sure that you are being charged correctly. If you see a pricing error, immediately bring it to your cashier’s attention.

A little effort can go a long way. The next time you head to the grocery store, follow these simple tips and watch your savings add up!

Photo Credit: iClipart

My Favorite Saving Strategies for Groceries

The question I get most often is “how do you save on meat, milk, fresh fruit and vegetables?”  I was asked again this morning so I thought it was a perfect time to put together a post with some of my favorite strategies for saving on the grocery budget.

You can easily save 30-40% on your grocery budget right off the bat simply by paying attention to the weekly grocery store ad, shopping the sales and stocking up on the things you use most often when they’re at they’re lowest price.  Taking the time to match coupons with the store sales can get you another 30-40% off your grocery bill, so you can knock 60-80% off with a few simple techniques.

Of course the items that are most expensive or that we use most often – meat, eggs, milk, and fresh produce – are the hardest to get for a discount, however there are strategies you can use to get the best deals!

Meat

I keep a (mental) list of stockup prices for meat and then watch for specials and markdowns that meet my criteria.  A couple weeks ago I stocked up on chicken leg quarters for $0.69/lb (Publix) and whole chickens for $0.88/lb (Sam’s Club) and my stock up price for lean hamburger is less than $3/lb, but an easy rule of thumb is to look for deals on meat at about 75% of their regular price and then stock up.  We typically buy the majority of our meat (with the exception of lunchmeat) at one time during the month when we’re planning a freezer cooking day, so the menu is usually based on Winn Dixie’s BOGO meat sales for the week or the best deals on family size packages at Sam’s Club.

Milk

I recently did a post that listed five tips for saving on milk that you can check out for more strategies, but my favorite thing to do is simply keep an eye out for the best deal, buy extra and freeze it.  For example, a couple weeks ago CVS had a special on milk for $3.19/gallon with a limit of 2 so I bought 2, hubby bought 2 and we put half in the freezer.  Gas is too expensive to make any special trips (or extra trips) so I just check around at the 3 or 4 places I usually shop.  If there aren’t any sales to be found I can pop into Sam’s club for cheap milk if I’m in the area.

Produce

Although they are rare, you can find coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables.  This morning I found a $1 off fresh fruit coupon on a box of cereal and the cereal was on my list anyway so I was thrilled to also get the cheap bananas.  Some large distributors like Driscoll’s have email newsletters and will send out coupons, but for the most part the produce coupons are sponsored by other companies like with the cereal deal.  Last week I used Publix coupons to get free tangerines and cheap green beans when I bought Oscar Mayer meats. 

We’ve tried having a large garden and growing lots of the things we like to eat, but it has been too time consuming and expensive for what it turned out to be worth for us so this year we plan to continue purchasing most of our fresh fruit and vegetables at local farmer’s markets and when they’re in season and on sale in the grocery store.  We also plan to do some container gardening of tomatoes and strawberries this year and enlist the kids’ help in watering and caring for them.

Bonus Tips!

In addition to the 60-80% we’ve knocked off our grocery budget through shopping the sales, matching coupons and stockpiling the basics we have also managed to take another 10-15% off through the use of menu planning and freezer cooking.  By “shopping” our own stockpile and basing the weekly menu on what we have on hand and what is on sale we have greatly reduced our waste because we know what we have and we use it.  Freezer cooking has also helped in those areas, and has the added benefit of taking a lot of the stress out of the daily dinner grind so we no longer dread the “what’s for dinner” question!