How to Save Money on Meals by Reinventing Leftovers: 8 Ideas

Estimated Monthly Savings: $80

Ahhh…leftovers, the word that elicits many a grimace from hungry kids pulling up a chair to the dinner table. But as parents who are counting not only our dimes but also our time, the idea of throwing away perfectly good food causes a grimace of our own. Couple that with the desire to prevent wastefulness and ungratefulness in our children, and we find ourselves badgering our kids to “at least eat a few bites” of that soggy pasta, slightly crunchy rice, or leathery reheated chicken. Truthfully, there are some leftovers that even we as parents have trouble getting excited about. But reinventing leftovers even twice a week could save you as much as $80 a month. So here are some creative ways to reinvent the most common leftovers, saving you both time and money, and leaving you grimace-free! Bet your kids won’t even notice.

  • Salad: Add deli meat, chicken, or protein of choice, and wrap in a tortilla for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Pasta: Add broth (or water plus seasonings) and leftover meats or veggies for a fool-proof soup.
  • Chicken/Beef: Chop and warm in a pan with soy, teriyaki, or bbq sauce, adding veggies if you like.
  • Rice: Add to a pan with some butter and soy sauce, adding eggs if you like, for kid-friendly fried rice.
  • Veggies: Stir into a soup or fold into an omelet for breakfast, or better yet, breakfast-dinner!
  • Fruit: Heat in a pot with a bit of sugar and use as a topping for oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, etc.
  • Bread: Cube and toast for croutons, chop into a breakfast casserole, or make grilled sandwiches.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Spread on top of a burger patty like “icing” and top with cheese “sprinkles.”

Next time you start to dump your time and money into the garbage disposal, try these ideas to reinvent your leftovers into meals your kids can get excited about. Stretching one meal into two, even a couple of times a week, could add at least $80 to your pocket. And if your kids come away with a lesson in resourcefulness and using money wisely, well, that’s just the icing on the burger!