Saving on Groceries Part 4: Using Up Food

I can remember my dad always eating the leftovers off of his children’s plates when he came home from work. As crazy as it sounds, I will often do the same thing when Joseph leaves behind some food unless it’s been turned into a science experiment. (It happens.)

There are a lot of ways to make sure that no food gets wasted! Try any and all of them, the more, the better!


Eat leftovers for lunch. If you don’t want the same meal twice, then freeze them. Just don’t forget about them in the back of your freezer! We make it a habit to eat leftovers almost every day. As long as the same meal doesn’t drag over into 4 days, we don’t get tired of it.

Leftover rice + cheese makes one of my kids’ favorite lunches. For something fancier, turn it into fried rice with leftover bits of meat, chopped veggies, and eggs. (I think fried rice is the ultimate way to use up leftovers by recycling them into something new!)

Clean out the fridge often. I’m obsessive about this one because I hate any part of my kitchen to be dirty. The best time is right before you go shopping because it’s the emptiest and easiest to wipe everything down.

Stale Bread

Dried up pieces of bread, stale crackers, unsweetened cereal, or even tortillas or chips make great bread crumbs. They don’t even have to be stale first! Just store them in a container or bag. When you need bread crumbs, put them in a food processor. Throw in a few spices for “Italian style” bread crumbs.

Fruits and Veggies

Save the fruit juice (not syrup!) from cans of fruit to add to smoothies. It’s delicious and almost free. You can also use it to make Jell-o.

Overripe fruits can be cut and frozen for smoothies or made into delicious jams or jellies. It’s also easy to make applesauce from those apples with only a few bites taken from them.

Save carrot peels and celery ends/leaves to make homemade chicken broth. I’ve done this, and it’s even better than using the “good parts” of the veggies. Just toss the scraps after the broth is done and save the rest of your carrots and celery for something else.

Meats and Substitutions

Save the grease from sausage/bacon to flavor vegetables or other dishes. It’s not the most healthy, but it tastes really good and a little bit goes a long way. Make sure to run it through a wire strainer first to get rid of the little bits of meat.

Don’t be afraid to make substitutions if something needs using up. Some that I’ve done successfully: whole wheat flour for white in desserts (No one can tell with brownies!); kosher salt instead of table salt, just use a little more because of the large grains; garlic instead of onions; powdered sugar or brown sugar for regular white sugar; yogurt for sour cream; popcorn, ground on the coarsest setting on a grain mill to make cornmeal; egg substitutes: see my separate post about what works.

Use slightly sour milk in baking. After it gets chunky, toss it! (Haven’t had to do that more than once or twice, thankfully.) Or, if it’s about to expire but isn’t sour yet, make yogurt or cheese. Then, save the whey to use in baking.

using up food

Find more posts on food storage here.

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