National Leftover Awareness Day

Okay, okay, so it might not actually be a national day in the correct sense of the word, but it is leftover awareness day here at my house.  We are living in temporary accommodations until we can move into our new house.  I’ve been trying to make healthy, planned meals instead of resorting to the PCS junk food syndrome, and we have leftovers.  What we don’t have are the glass containers that usually get leftovers to go in the freezer and become my husband’s lunches.  Therefore, we are accumulating a fridge full of bits and pieces of foods that need to be eaten.  So I’ve declared it leftover awareness day.  I’m not sure it has worked on anyone but me, but I am trying.

We use a variety of different strategies for using up leftovers.  The most important one is the aforementioned leftovers as lunch strategy.  We have six or seven glass freezer containers in lunch sized portions.  Leftovers go into the designated lunch containers and into the freezer.  Every few days, my patient and not picky husband takes a few containers to work.  It saves money, the food gets eaten, and it saves him time in his workday.

The second one is more of a tactic than a strategy.  I specifically use clear containers to store my leftovers.  Growing up, we stored leftovers in reused margarine tubs.  While I appreciate the frugality, not being able to see what was inside meant that the food didn’t always get eaten.  (Plus it was hard to keep track of your margarine inventory.)  After years of finding science experiments inside yellow containers, I decided that clear containers were a necessity for me.  Perhaps you are more organized than I am, but for me this is important.

Speaking of organization, we do not have a good leftover management system here and I wish that we did.  If you know some good ideas, let me know.  I know some people keep a list on the fridge and that seems like a good idea to me.  Maybe I could incorporate it into the crafty menu board that I want to make.  Or maybe I should just stick a piece of paper in the kitchen and stop trying to be so super-homemaker.

I am not totally disorganized, however.  I do try to plan things like making a roast chicken, then making chicken salad and then soup.  Soups and stews are always a great way to use up leftovers and it is amazing what can taste good together.  Another tip is to use the internet to look for recipes using leftover food.  It is amazing what you can find when you stick a few ingredients into a Google search!

In addition to declaring it national leftover awareness day, we also have Clean Out the Refrigerator Nights.  CORN for short.  Sometimes we call it a smorgasbord, but the kids are on to me and no longer think that is something exotic.

No matter how you do it, making sure that leftovers are consumed is a quick and easy way to decrease your food bill.  Share your strategies so we all can learn!


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Fat Bag’s Girl

    I don’t know if this will help you, but I plan my weekly meals which includes uses for the leftovers. For example, a meal of chicken, rice and peas and green salad will almost always result in leftoevers of chicken empanada’s and rice and peas with tomato and avacado salad.

  • Thomas Staub

    As a Chef using leftovers is important to controling your Food cost even at home. Your idea is right on target as far as making a menu and anticipating having some leftover for the next meal. Another idea is having a meal that uses all the leftover items (just don’t tell your kids what you doing tell them you planned it). Another idea for leftovers is local charities may be able to use your leftover items.
    Tom Staub