You know that eating leftovers from your healthy homemade meals is both money saving and time saving, but you live in a house where “leftovers” is a dirty word. You’re forced to make just enough or toss what you don’t eat the first time, because no one in your house will touch a Tupperware. You know scheduling a leftover night once or twice a week will not only cut down on the grocery bill, but it will cut down on your time spent in the kitchen, but you just can’t convince your family to consider leftovers as a meal, so you end up getting “outvoted” on leftover nights and you order in or go out, which not only does not save money, it costs more (and potentially generates even more leftovers).
In this blog we will show you how to creatively use leftovers to make new meals so that they become “repurposed”, which really isn’t the right word because in the end the purpose is to feed hungry bellies, and they’re still doing that. But for our purposes here, repurposed works. I like to call this style of meal planning using “planned overs” because instead of having unwanted food left over, you’re purposefully making enough to have extra so that your time and money are better spent.
Cook Once, Eat Twice (or even 3 times)
When your giant crock of Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos is through making delicious tacos, it refocuses itself and becomes Supreme Nachos on a different day, leaving you only with the task of making easy healthy Homemade Tortilla Chips the next day. Making double the meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs leaves you enough to make delicious Meatball Sliders another day. Carefully pre-planning a 1-2-3 Eat! Steak menu will leave you cooked meat for easy healthy Steak Fried Rice AND enough remaining roasted vegetables for Roasted Veggie Mac-n-Cheese, which is like cooking once and eating three times!
Just wait until your turn-their-noses-up-at-leftovers family sees what you can do with a little bit of leftovers, and watch their attitudes transform before your very eyes. You will bask in the glow of their adoration, fully knowing that deep down, you did it for yourself, not them. We all need a break from cooking entire meals every single day, and none of us wants our bank accounts or health to suffer because we “just don’t want to cook tonight.”
When you use leftovers to make new meals you can have your break and eat it too!
7 Day Example Meal Plan
Here is an example 7 day Meal Plan showing how to use leftovers to make new meals. You can switch the days up a bit so that you don’t have nachos right after tacos if you prefer. It’s totally up to you how you switch the days as long as you make the primary meal before the meal(s) it supports (obviously).
Day 1 - Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
This one is a very popular 90/10 recipe and it makes a LOT. It’s always too much for one night of tacos for most families. So, it makes a great recipe for “planned overs” (i.e. using leftovers to make new meals). When you use the leftovers, all you will have to do is make up some homemade tortilla chips to make the nachos.
Day 2 - Supreme Nachos
As mentioned, you could move this to later in the week if you prefer not to have a similar dish the very next night. When you’re ready, it’s easy to turn that leftover slow cooker chicken into some awesome nachos.
Day 3 - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Here’s a classic that’s already pretty easy, but it will make the meatball sliders even easier tomorrow or later in the week. NOTE: You’ll want to double meatball recipe for this one so you have enough for the sliders.
Day 4 - Meatball sliders, Salad
Throw a simple side salad on this recipe and use your leftover meatballs and dinner is done in no time!
Day 5 - 1-2-3 Eat! Steak, Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Veggies
We’ve included a recipe below for this one, but it doesn’t really need one. Just grill up some steak (flank steak, sirloin, whatever you like), bake some sweet potatoes, and roast some veggies. You can follow the basic recipe below but take a look at day 7 for an idea of what veggies you may want to roast. You’ll want to roast extra veggies and grill extra steak for use in the next 2 days on this plan.
Day 7 - Roasted Veggie Mac and Cheese
Just follow this basic recipe but use the roasted veggies you already have!