Favorite ways to save small food leftovers.

yellowhairFebruary 16, 2004

I know that I save money every time I open my freezer door and get out some leftovers, or even in the fridge. But, it seems that I have a freezer door full of yogurt cups and small foil pkgs-----no good system, in other words.

What kind of "systems" do you have? I think maybe one designated container, or even a ziploc bag would hold my little items.

Would love to hear some of the food items, fruits, veggies, other miscellaneous items that you save and what you use them for.

Here's two of mine----one baggie for veggies to make vegetable soup----I also froze some leftover champayne from New Year's (shows how much we drink around here--lol) and have added a few tablespoons to mushrooms and onions to go with steak. Yummmm

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I personally love the glad and ziplock plastic containers. I buy the larger containers for freezing full meals and the smaller ones for keeping leftovers in the fridge. They stack up nice and tidy and store inside each other very easily. Since they are dishwasher safe you can use them over and over again but don't have to worry if you lose one since they're so inexpensive. I bought a whole set of different sizes at Sam's. I'm ready to get rid of everything else taking up space in my tupperware drawer!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 2:55PM
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I use margarine tubs (1, 2 and 4 lb., more or less, sizes) to store a portion of a soup, stew, veg., in the frig or freezer.

(Currently down to only 3 teeth, I've been making quite a few of them lately).

You can write the contents on the lid with magic marker. Till you run out of room.

Then tape/glue a piece of paper to the lid - tape's better - less tearing of paper in handling.

The tubs last better than the lids, which crack at the edges as they get quite a bit of usage (or age).

Then, as I don't like to leave dishes open in a frost-free fridge (stuff dries up too much) I slide the dish into an empty bread bag, capture some extra air in it, twist the extra sleeve and tuck it under the dish. Which keeps it out of the way and keeps the bread bag from drooping down into the food and getting messy.

The advantage of the bread bag is that it's transparent enough that you can look through it to check what the bowl contains.

Or I may use a soup bowl - which makes it easier to heat in the microwave and eat directly without transfer.

If it's a small quantity of soup - maybe keep it in a mug, inside the bread bag - that's easily heated to use.

Perhaps use a Ziploc bag over the bowl like a roof - but it allows more circulation, so dries some.

In Canada I get four litres (just over a U.S. gallon) of milk in three sealed bags, that's then put into a larger bag that's closed using a plastic gizmo like on loaves of bread.

The large bags're just the right size to slip a pie into, in order that it won't dry out in the fridge. As I live alone, if I store my pie in the cupboard it molds before I get it all eaten.

I've kept some of the large bottles that juice came in to mix the frozen stuff, which makes it easier to manage.

I've kept some of the individual sized bottles to refill using the frozen packages, as well - a lot cheaper than buying drink boxes. More environmentally friendly, as well.

Buy hamburg in quantity, make into patties, fold each into long narrow sheet of plastic, store in those heavy plastic milk bags (that hold a bit over a quart), then into the freezer. They're good for holding small quantities of chicken, veggies, fruit, etc. Also useful for freezing quantities of veggies, fruits in the summer.

Confession time - I sometimes have some of the (fridge-stored) packages develop that blue, fuzzy stuff on top.

Where did that come from? Is it a bonus?

I don't put it into town garbage - take it with me when going into the country, drop it on a farmer's field. Potato peelings, banana peel, orange skins, egg shells, as well.

Hope you can keep your powder more carefully - after it's been mixed with water so isn't dry any more.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 5:52AM
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If you buy the gallon size plastic milk containers, you can cut the tops off them to whatever depth you'd like to use for storage. Not having them all the same height for regularly stored food items makes it easy to remember what's in them and the items get a custom fit or, you can label them with colored permanent markers. If you don't buy these containers yourself, I'm sure friends or neighbors would be more than happy to donate them! I go through about 2 a week - I wish they had more uses than recycling by storing homemade cleaners and plant food in bulk.

Use an empty mayonaise jar to store your weeks worth of leftover cooked vegetables and another jar for the water you cooked them in. You can reuse this water during the week to boil other vegetables, gradually making a vegetable broth while saving water!

Separate and save in jars any leftover meats which have been cut up for use in other money-saving recipes. I'll add a depression-era recipe for all this that belonged to my Grandmother:(The amount of ingredients you need is going to depend on what size baking dish you use).

Friday Night Meat Pie:

In baking dish, mix cooked vegetables, leftover meat, heated vegetable stock to which corresponding boullion cube has been added. Cover with drop biscuit dough and cook until biscuit is done.

(Cheap and easy, nothing is wasted for the week - and boy did those leftover veggies add up when my kids were small)!

Eileen :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 8:59AM
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Great tips, everybody! Yes, I do buy the milk in gallon containers and DH, the skeptic about tap water, buys the large-sized plastic water containers. I'll incorporate some of these into my system.

And I'm discovering each day the value of bread wrappers and other sturdy plastic containers, like cereal is packaged in.

I don't think I could live without zip-loc bags! But, I need to recycle them, some I do, others I toss. Maybe I'll get better at this.lol thanks again

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 12:18PM
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There is no proof that bottled water is safer than tap. If you are concerned, it would be better to spend the money on a good filter.

I save bacon and sausage pieces in a clear zip lock bag on the door of the freezer. These are used in making a breakfast casserole every two weeks. They are combined with the odd stale bread heels and bisquits(that are put in another clear zip lock bag in the freezer) to make the casserole.

I've had a lot of luck storing leftovers in canning jars because you can see what is in them clearly.

I always try to make lunches from leftovers immediately and freeze or eat them the next day.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 9:25PM
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Flat cola is a great additive to cooking cheaper cuts of meat. It tenderizes the meat as it cooks.

Flat beer is good for cooking meats (esp bratwurst) and making soda bread.

Old or very cheap wine is good for spaghetti sauce (red) or making a sauteed chicken/onion/mushroom meal (white).

Old Milk can be used anywhere buttermilk is used and when diluted is excellent for compost. If you don't like the smell--use it as the liquid when baking.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 8:17PM
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I bought a dozen 1 cup tupperware like containers at Goodwill for 10 cents each - and they were brand new! They had a whole case of them...wish I would have bought more. Anyway, if I have extra gravy or sauce from a meal I save it in those containers and add to my next sauce, or make a meal of rice or noodles with the sauce.

I also use them to freeze tomato paste (I put it in an ice tray first to get small portions...recipes seem to only call for one or two tablespoons.) I also freeze any leftover diced canned tomatoes, another thing recipes tend to call for less than a can of. Well, I only cook for two so I usually cut recipes way back.

Most other things go in quart sized ziplocks, since they flatten and stack nicely in the freezer. I always label and date everything using scotch tape on the containers or write directly on the ziplocks. I bought a case of 1000 quart and 1000 gallon ziplocks from a place I used to work.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 10:17AM
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Well, I tried the flat cola, Md tn mama, on some pork chops a few nights ago. They were delicious! I was baking them and I added rice, some of the cola, and some orange juice. And DH ate 2 chops and even some of the rice! He's not big on my rice because it's usually blandish.

I don't know why I never realized that you can add the uncooked rice to a dish that you're baking and it will be done at the end of an hour. Very easy. Thanks for the cola tip.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 11:36AM
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Yellowhair--if you like that way with pork chops, try this:

In a casserole dish put your rice, onions and whatever you like in your rice (I like onions, mushrooms, spices, onion powder). Then top with pork chops you have browned in a frying pan and salted and peppered. Place tomato slices on the pork chops. Pour liquid for rice (try onion soup, tomato juice etc.) over everything. Back for an hour and you won't believe how tender the chops will be.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 1:43PM
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My mom used to keep a huge glass peanut-butter jar in the freezer. In it, she put leftover veggies (fresh OR cooked), the "juice" you drain off of canned corn, leftover meat, etc.

Almost anything except bread, actually.

Then, when it was full, she'd put it in a pot, add whatever she thought it needed, and make stew. It was yummy!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 1:54PM
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Meat pies.....I love meat pies and add all my chopped leftover meats, veg...whatever...and make an oxo based gravy..throw in leftover soup to the gravy as well..it cleans up my fridge nicely. I can stack and store them...I put my recycled foil on top with B for Beef or T for turkey ...and toss them in the freezer. I make large and small individual pies...and keep reusing the foil pans. If I find a large pie is too big...I cut it into individual portions and wrap and freeze those. As for storage containers, I use whatever seems to be handy..jars, containers, bags....and recycle as much as I can...when I have holes in my ziplocks and they can't be used for foods...they move onto things like separating coins for the bank...I don't care if the bags have tape on them....and you know what I always ask the teller for the bags back. Eventually they do hit the garbage but it takes a good while.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 12:32AM
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Clean out the fridge/freezer once a week by making either pizza, soup, or a casserole with everything that's leftover. For us, if food stays in the fridge over 7 days, it's never getting eaten.

Last week's fridge cleanup used up 1/2 lb of ground beef, leftover green beans, a leftover 1/2 tomato, leftover corn, and leftover spaghetti sauce. I added onion, garlic, beef boullion, and a can of mixed veggies and we had a really yummy veggie soup. This week's used leftover chicken and corn on the cob from a cookout, and resulted in chicken corn chowder.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 12:35AM
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Budster: When your zip lock bags start getting holes--use them for starting seeds-really, great little greenhouses! Keeps the soil moist so you don't have to water all the time. Just open when sprouted.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 6:41PM
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at 5 cents each?

Bread bags come free.

Twist the long, open end.

If it's too long - that's what scissors are for.

If you have trouble with the bread bags springing a leak when storing juicy stuff - put it in a soup/dessert dish, then into the bread bag.

Reuse, instead of making a market for new stuff - that's made, after all, from those famous petroleum products.

That we're fast running out of.

And buy from distant places, requiring major transportation - and processing.

And purchased from sometimes unstable regimes (not including petroleum sourced in Canada, of course).

Good wishes for resourceful money - and resource - saving.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 13, 2004 at 7:57PM
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When in doubt compost it! I have learned over the yeras after I carefully put those dibs and dabs of food in to a clear glass container with lid they get pushed tothe back of the shelof and two weeks latter I am finding it with mold. Now I am more realistic and if I really kno wit wont get eaten it goes in the compost (if appropriate..no meat, dairy) and if not that I feed it to the chickens.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2004 at 11:13AM
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Give 'em to the dog.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 6:41PM
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As I live alone (and am not a heavy eater) I have had trouble avoiding having food go bad in the frig.

Something over 6 months ago my old step-uncle died.

People dealing with his affairs were worried that if the house were left vacant, it would be broken into, and I said that I could help, by going out there.

I've been making the 25 mile round trip almost every day since. I'm feeling guilty, embarrassed, etc. about it, too. After his wife died, over two years ago, I stayed with him for a couple of months, as he, in his mid 80's, having had three hip replacements, with really painful back, hip and leg, went to the barn daily to care for his cattle and some of us were worried that, if he fell in a snowbank, no one would know for a while. I stayed with him till the cattle went to pasture.

Since then, I've visited him occasionally, but felt that I should go oftener.

Now that he's gone - I'm going to his place every day.

Which means that I have milk in two fridges. And bread. And juice. And potatoes. And meat. And veggies. Etc., etc. So, not only do I often forget to take stuff back and forth that I need - but quite a bit more than formerly goes bad!

Something of a pain in the butt ... for anyone, let alone a frugal old fart like me!

'Tain't all bad, though - he had two dogs and the major one, that he gave a part of everything that he ate to and was so fat that she could hardly waddle, was found a home for right after his death.

But ... the outside dog, and about ten cats, are still around.

They are glad to get most of the stuff that's too far gone to suit me. And it doesn't seem to cause them any harm.

Something over 60 years ago my Dad had a young cattle beast die, towed it out of the barn into the yard, and there it lay. For about a year.

Our dog would visit the carcass for a snack quite frequently - and the down side for him was that he smelled so bad that he got a lot less petting than usual!

A number of neighbours' dogs used to like to visit for a snack, as well.

Some even rolled in it.

I remember when our family took our dachshund to the beach nearly 40 years ago - she'd lie down in the smelly dead fish and roll in them.

Smelled bad for days after - despite getting (at least one) thorough bath. My ex- was disgusted.

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Dogs will be dogs!".

So they will.

Hope you're enjoying good health, friends, prosperity ... and happiness.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 1:25PM
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