Food,  Frugality

How to Handle Leftovers

It is important to minimize waste to not only conserve money but to reduce that amount that we spend. This becomes even more important in circumstances where we are forced to purchase items from corporations whose actions we disagree with. We may be forced to give them money but we can at least limit the amount we give them.

This was in the forefront of my mind when my daughter brought home a rotisserie chicken the other day. The animal had been raised on a factory farm, no doubt, and the place she purchased it isn’t exactly known for how they treat their workers.

We devoured the animal on the first day. By the second, all that remained was a small pile of bones. The bits of meat were far too small to pick off individually yet there was enough remaining that I felt guilty about discarding it. That animal sacrificed its life to provide us with food; the least I could do is honor that sacrifice by using it up completely.

I placed the remains in a pot, filling it with water. I gave thanks to the animal as I set the pot to boil. Once the meat had separated from the bone, I sifted through it, preserving as much as I could. A little while later and we had a small pot of chicken and dumplings, light on the meat.

Those actions managed to extend my daughter’s gift for two more days. Those were days that we did not have to purchase more food. Our bellies were full, our wallets were spared, and there was no waste to dishonor the animal’s sacrifice.

It breaks my heart to see good food tossed in the trash because someone prepared too much. I find it disheartening when I see perfectly usable things discarded in the trash without thought. This is something we can fix, however.

If we place a bit of forethought into the meals we prepare we can estimate how much we will eat before we begin cooking. If we normally prepare a number of sides, we can limit the amount of sides we cook to minimize waste. Just because our mothers insisted on several sides with every meal doesn’t mean that we have to follow that pattern. We live in an age where food can be quite expensive so it pays to conserve where we can.

This applies even if we have the means to grow our own food. It takes time and money to cultivate a garden and raise animals for slaughter. Even more importantly, it is a tragedy when we waste.

Even the smallest scraps of food can be saved. Meats and vegetables of all types can be made into soups that will last for several days. When we begin to practice this conservation, we will find our grocery expense dwindling.

If anything, the thought of reduced sales at the mega-corporations can enhance our enjoyment of the feast.

As I write this I am enjoying the leftovers of another meal. I won’t cook again until it is gone. There is no point. Besides, I feel better using up the things I currently have than I do when I discard those things to buy new.

Don’t you?

How do you feel about leftovers? What do you do to use them up? If you don’t like leftovers, what steps do you take to prevent waste from occurring? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

4 Comments

  • Linda Sand

    Where we live some meals are included in our rent. Tonight I will order pork cutlets with pan gravy, baked potato with sour cream, cottage cheese, and a cup of fresh fruit. I will eat only the pork for meal one, for meal two I will top the baked potato with canned tuna, for meal three I will eat the cup of cottage cheese. My husband will eat the fruit for his meal three. I could order Caesar salad instead of the fruit to which I would then add chicken for another meal. Eating like this lets us not resent the money spent on our prepaid meals. I am so glad I finally figured out how to make the most of those food dollars.

    • Annie

      That is brilliant, Linda! Thanks for sharing! I will have to remember that. Our circumstances may be different but I can still use that.

  • John Grebe

    Two favorite ways of dealing with the leftovers by recycling them that I have:

    1. For meat if you have any tubes of crescent rolls, cut up the meet and wrap it up in the roils before baking. Close to the end of the baking briefly remove and sprinkle grated cheese on them if desired. The recipe I first encountered was for chicken crescents but any leftover non ground meat works fine.

    2. Similar but just use biscuit mix instead to make savory biscuits. Chop meat and other leftovers and mix it with the biscuit batter and then bake.