Leftover Makeovers

Leftover Makeovers

This is a guest post written by Barb from Cultivating Motherhood.

I have always been a fan of making sure food doesn’t go to waste. The problem is, I get very bored with having leftover meals. It’s not that I can’t make myself eat them, they are just boring. During any given week, my family might have 3-4 leftover meals just sitting in the fridge because we’ve avoided eating them. (Well, I’ve avoided eating them, my husband has no problem with leftovers.)

I wanted a way to make leftovers more exciting. This is how my leftover makeovers were created! It isn’t a revolutionary idea or anything, but it’s so practical. I wanted to find a way to make new meals out of the leftovers that we already had in the fridge.

Recently we used roasted chicken that we had for dinner one night to make white bean chicken chili the next night. We roast a whole chicken often since it always gives us plenty of leftover chicken to make other meals with.(Since we get all of our chickens from a local farm I do not like wasting any of the chicken.)

Whole Cooked Chicken

For the chili, after dinner I pulled the leftover chicken off of the bones. The next evening, I just had to cut the veggies and cook.

Chicken Chili Prep

For this recipe, I added carrots, jalapeño, onion, corn, celery, green pepper, garlic, chicken stock, water, white beans, and spices. (I’ll occasionally add lentils to help thicken.)

Chicken Chili

I cooked the chili it in a stock pot, but this could easily be turned into a crockpot meal.

Bowl of Chicken Chili

Voila! A delicious leftover makeover!

The best part is that this batch of chili left us with enough to freeze for another meal! We are only a family of three so we are often have plenty of leftovers. If your family is larger, you can still do the same thing but start by roasting two chickens.

Other leftover makeovers from roasted chicken:

  • Chicken quesdaillas
  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Chicken salad for lunch
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Chicken fajitas

Although many of these things are meals that you might make without using leftovers, I always find it easier to make these meals when I don’t have to cook the meat on the day of cooking. It makes the process much faster and makes it feel like a grand meal without much effort.

I’m always looking for new ideas on how to make leftovers more exciting and hope this will inspire you to try some leftover creations of your own!

Barb is wife and mother to a fun and spunky 22 month old tot Liam. She works full time as a pediatric nurse, but thinks her most important job is taking care of her family and home. She’s a breast feeding, cloth diapering, natural living, Pinterest obsessed mama who’s still figuring it all out. While she may be sleep deprived, busy, and slightly neurotic, she loves blogging about it all at Cultivating Motherhood.

Food Waste

Fresh Produce

The statistics on food waste are staggering to me. Approximately 14-25% of food is wasted in American households. Based on a $400/month food budget, the average American wastes around $56-100 each month. That’s a huge chunk of money, especially for families living on single incomes!

While our family has always lived frugally, only in recent years have I really made preventing food waste a priority. Sure, we used to eat leftovers, but we’d still throw some leftovers out, let produce go bad frequently and just weren’t conscious of preventing waste.

Now that feeding our family high quality, nutrient dense foods is a major priority, we truly value our food and I strive to have almost no food waste.

I’ve gotten really good at planning our meals around the produce that needs to be used before spoiling, make eating leftovers a priority and enjoy creating new dishes out of leftovers. We serve our boys small portions to prevent a lot of waste (and give them more food once they eat what was initially served) but they’re not the neatest eaters. In fact, the biggest source of food waste around here is the food that our boys drop on the ground.

Being conscious about how much food you are wasting is the first step to preventing food waste.

After we decided not to put any food/food waste in our trash can, instead choosing to compost and feed our chickens, we had a more accurate visual of the amount of food that was being put in the trash. Sure, a lot of it was scraps (peelings, seeds, etc.) but we also had a visual on the ‘real food’ that was being wasted.

Knowing how much food is being wasted serves as a motivator to reduce waste. When you start thinking about the money that is being lost by not consuming food, you start viewing food a little differently and preventing food waste can become a fun money saving challenge!

Are you aware of the food waste in your home? Is preventing food waste a priority in your home? 

Day 28 :: Making Menu Planning a Habit

We all have to eat, there’s no way around that. Food, however, can become a source of stress in a household. When I’m not in the habit of meal planning, every meal time becomes stressful!

For me, meal planning goes hand in hand with living intentionally simple. By having a meal plan and following it, I’m being intentional about making my meals and meal prep less stressful.

Day 28 Project : Commit to making menu planning a habit.

In the past, I did my meal planning on Sunday. It’s the day the sale ads come out so I would use that in planning my meals for the coming week.

Now that I have a 2 week meal plan in place, I simply reference that when making out my grocery list. I no longer have to sit down every week to come up with a new meal plan.

I may not be coming up with a meal plan weekly but I am committed to following the meal plan that I have.

Benefits to meal planning:

  • No stress related to deciding what to eat. I no longer ask ‘what’s for dinner?’ every single day!
  • Saving money. We’re not tempted to eat out when we have a plan in place.
  • Makes hospitality easier. Having a list of meals that we have ingredients for makes it easy to feed last minute guests!
Is menu planning a habit for you? Do you want to get in the habit of menu planning? 

Day 7 :: Menu Planning

We’re taking a break from simplifying in the master today and are going to work on a meal plan. Sundays are the beginning of the week and a great time to start implementing changes, such as getting into the habit of meal planning.

Day 7 Project : Create a meal plan.

Meal planning saves time, money and prevents stress.

I’ve had times where I meal planned faithfully (in fact, before children I loved meal planning each week) and there have been times when I’ve gone months without meal planning, which led to a lot of stress about what my family was eating. I definitely prefer the organization and simplicity that comes with a meal plan.

A few months ago, I finally sat down and created a two week meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu for week one and week two are different but we repeat the same plan every two weeks.  It sounds boring but the reality is we were eating the same or simliar foods every week or two anyway. This plan has kept meal and food preparation super simple, I just follow the plan which makes meal times a little less stressful (preparing the foods with little ones underfoot and feeding the little ones is still stressful but at least I’m not stressed about what I am preparing!)

If you’re in the routine of meal planning, today’s project should be simple for you.

If you’ve not been meal planning, sit down and draft a meal plan. It could be as simple as writing out a list of 10 of your family’s favorite meals, creating a detailed plan for a week or drafting your own two week meal plan to repeat (so you don’t have to make time to meal plan weekly!)

If you have any meal planning tips or resources, please share!