*Don't let leftovers linger.
To save time, definitely cook extra for leftovers.
EXCEPTION: Don't make leftovers of something that does not warm up well. Just make a single serving for each family member of meat that is not in a sauce that would keep it moist, for example.
But make sure that you eat leftovers only once, preferably the next day. Otherwise, your family will get bored and start complaining that they hate leftovers.
TIP: Write a reminder in your planner when you cook a large meal to "freeze leftovers" the next day.
*Recreate leftovers as frozen dinners (or lunches).
TIP: Freeze as individual servings.
I rarely freeze leftovers in one big ziploc bag. Instead, I make several individual servings. Grab one to throw in your lunchbox. Grab three for a quick dinner. Grab one or two as a side item to go with a grilled meat. The smaller servings defrost easily in a microwave or on the stove.
Leftovers are way tastier than most frozen meals, generally cheaper, and quick to heat up. By doing individual servings, each person can choose their favorite meal to heat up on leftovers night!
*Use fruits, veggies, and meats before the natural deadline.
FYI: Natural deadline = rotting food. Avoid that!
TIP: Write a note to eat the foods tomorrow in your planner.
TIP: Use as side dishes or snacks.
*Freeze fruits and veggies during the peak season, when they are cheapest and freshest.
TIP: Prepare them for cooking first.
Strawberries are cut into blender sized chunks. Jalapenos are pre-chopped for salsa or sliced for omelets. Some peppers are diced, while others are sliced.
*Mix and match leftovers with fresh foods.
I make a mean enchilada casserole. It's fine leftover, but adding a side of freshly cooked saffron rice makes my family forget that it is leftover.
*Use expensive condiments.
If I am serving an apple, my kids are not impressed. But slice an apple and drizzle a bit of honey and cinnamon? Dessert.
Some cheese that won't be good soon? Use some very aged balsamic vinegar. It doesn't take much to make any cheese pop with flavor.
You saw that instead of plain white rice, we often go for saffron rice.
Expensive condiments go on the side, but there is nothing like them for cheaply (because you don't use much) upgrading food.
Share with your budget-conscious, foodie friends!