8 Ways to Save Money by Reusing Leftovers

leftovers You probably already know that leftovers can be a big money saver. Duh, they all say. But let’s be real, leftovers get old quick. Pun intended. I do pretty good at eating leftovers, but after a couple of days I’m sick of eating the same thing. So what’s a girl to do? Repurpose and upcycle those leftovers, that’s what!

Here’s some of my favorite ways to repurpose leftovers:

1. Make chili even heartier with spaghetti noodles!
Chili can last a long time– especially if you make a big ol’ pot. When I was little we never ate chili alone. We always ate it over spaghetti noodles. It makes the chili heartier, last longer and stretch further. When we were grown, my mom told me this was a “poor person thing” but until I moved out of the house I had no idea that people ate chili without spaghetti noodles!

2. Put an egg on it!
One of my favorite ways to spice up leftovers is to throw in a fried egg. Eggs are super cheap and I seem to always have extra in the fridge. Protein power! My absolute favorite is a breakfast pizza. Throw a raw egg on top of your leftover pizza and heat in the oven until the egg white is well… white. So delicious!

3. Don’t throw that last bit away!
Sometimes it’s tempting to throw that last tiny bit of chicken or sauce away. It’s not enough for a whole meal, right? But before you toss it, think about ways you can pump it up. Adding more sauce or more vegetables can beef up that last little bit of food into a whole meal.

4. Smorgasbord!
As you might have noticed, when I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. It didn’t bother me much because my mom had a great imagination and encouraged us to have one too. She used to tell me that the local grocery store during the fall was a pumpkin patch. I didn’t find that out until last year. Man, was she clever. At the end of each week, she’d break out all the leftovers and we’d have a little dab of everything. We got to pretend we were kings eating at our very own smorgasbord.

5. Experiment
It’s so easy to get in a cooking rut. Eating the same 5 meals is easy. But challenge yourself to experiment. Get creative with your cooking. Try to eat all of the stuff in your pantry and fridge before you go shopping. See what you can come up with. Don’t feel very creative? Websites like Recipe Key can help you to find recipes using just the ingredients you have in your pantry.

6. Remember, you don’t always have to use leftovers right away.
Certain foods lend well to freezing. Chili for example. You don’t have to eat chili for the next two weeks (because you’re eating is with spaghetti noodles, right?). You can freeze half of it and break it out during an extra busy or extra chilly weeknight.

7. Leftovers can be made into totally different meals
One of the worst things about leftovers is that they can be boring. But they don’t have to be because they can be made into totally different meals. I used to hope, hope, hope that we had leftover rice at our meals to make rice pudding. My mom’s recipe for rice pudding is the best. Stale bread can be made into french toast, leftover veggies can be made into quiche and leftover spaghetti sauce can be used as pizza sauce! The possibilities are endless, people.

8. Use it as compost
Don’t feel guilty when that leftover tortellini looks like a science experiment gone awry. You can’t eat it now. (Well you could, but you could also end up in the hospital.) But you can still compost it! Throw it in the compost heap and use it to get that garden good and fertile! Helpful hint: Used coffee grounds make excellent plant fertilizer!

Do you have any tips for upcycling leftovers? I’d love to hear them in the comments!



11 thoughts on “8 Ways to Save Money by Reusing Leftovers

  1. Loura

    Hi 🙂 I found your blog through And Then We Saved.

    The spaghetti noodle chili thing, its a thing! I don’t know if you have ever been to Cincinatti, OH but they have http://www.goldstarchili.com/menu/ways Gold Star Chili and I think their competitor is Skyline?
    I went to visit my friend in Cinci, and when they told me what we would be eating that night (Gold Star chili with noodles) I was a bit mortified. Turns out, its delicious! Thanks for reminding me it existed.

    1. lovelibrarianmelanie Post author

      Thanks for commenting. I’ve heard it was a thing is Ohio! And thanks for confirming it. It’s a great way to stretch out that chili!

  2. Yaya

    These are all great tips! I love being creative with left overs. Sometimes they are best way to experiment with new recipes. We also do the smorgasbord and love it, as many times we don’t know what bits of this or that we have in the fridge. I like the idea of chili with spaghetti noodles, will give it a try.

  3. Tammy

    My family loves my leftover pies. Using pretty much anything (soup, beef roast, chicken, turkey) made into a thick stew add some extra potatoes, and veggies if needed (even leftover ones from the fridge) and put it into a pie crust. I also keep left over pie crust from other desert pies etc, freeze them and pop them out to defrost when I need an upscale for leftovers. I also keep stock from meat dishes (in the freezer) for use in my stews, and leftover pies. They love it so much that they forget they are eating leftovers. This is something that no one in my family has ever done and I honestly do not know why. Saves lots of money using all of those leftovers and is a fantastic meal! Why buy meat pies when you can make them with leftovers!

  4. Tracey

    We have something my boyfriend’s mum calls ‘friday pie’ made with leftovers and baked with mashed potatoes on top 🙂

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