cheap family recipes
feed a family of 4 for (just over) £100 a month
What Can I Do With Leftovers?
When every penny counts it seems wasteful to throw good food in the bin when you have spent so much time and effort making it. Here are some handy tips compiled from our testers to help you make the most of your leftovers, save money and reduce wastage.
Before throwing anything out ask yourself whether it could be safely used another time as an ingredient for another dish or as a meal/snack in itself.
Get into the habit of checking what is in your fridge and cupboards and ensuring everything gets used up.
It can be easy to over estimate how much your family will eat, especially with foods such as pasta, rice and potatoes. Get into the habit of weighing these out to prevent wastage.
Try having that leftover portion for lunch the following day to prevent it going to waste.
If you have a microwave at work you could even pop it into a plastic container and take it with you.
Make friends with your freezer so if you do not fancy it the next day you may be able to freeze the leftovers for another time.
Clean, empty margarine tubs make excellent food storage containers and are perfect for storing your leftovers in.
You may have empty ice cream tubs and plastic takeaway containers with lids which are also ideal for storing food in too.
You could use freezer bags for storing leftovers in the freezer.
Familiarise yourself and check your understanding on Best Before and Use By dates.
Encourage your whole family to check for leftovers lurking in the fridge and to eat these first before reaching for other foods.
Any stale leftover bread can be whizzed into breadcrumbs in a food processor/blender which can be used for fish cakes, treacle tart and toppings for pasta dishes. Breadcrumbs can be stored in the freezer if you do not need them right away.
A tester reports that the stuffing is even better the next day and makes a filling lunch microwaved on its own or with any left over veg/gravy.
The sweetcorn fritters have been found to be good for snacks or as lunch if eaten the next day, but do lose a bit in texture if heated in the microwave.
Any spare apple curd can be spread onto a rolled out piece of bread/pizza dough, rolled up like a swiss roll and sliced before proving and baking to make yummy apple roll type thingies.
You can make ‘Magic Rice’ with any leftover rice, onion and/or other veg or bits of meat. Dash or two of soy sauce and Bob’s your Uncle… However, please be careful with leftover cooked rice as it can become a breeding ground for bacteria if left lying around at room temperature or is not reheated fully.
Rice needs to be cooled very quickly (ie under a cold tap) and then ensure it is refridgerated straight away and reheated properly.
Any leftover rice can be frozen in a food bag. Then when you’re next making egg fried rice, just take it straight out of the freezer (and food bag) and put it into the pan. After a couple of minutes the rice defrosts nicely and cooks at the same time.
Mix cooked rice (basmati etc) with about 1/2 pint milk and place on a medium heat with some cinnamon and sugar. Bring the milk and contents to the boil and voila- a quick rice pudding. You can also use coconut milk or the blocks of creamed coconut instead of the milk.
You can do the same with leftover pasta to make a pasta salad too.
If you find that you have cooked too many potatoes then you could make some gnocchi which will also freeze well.
Leftover vegetables can be stored in a container in the freezer which could then be used for making vegetable soups and curries.
Chop any leftover fresh herbs and store them in freezer bags in the freezer for using another time.
There are many books on the market which focus on making the most of your leftovers: try your local library for copies of these instead of buying them.
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Take care of your family and your budget
Before putting together our meal planners we surveyed over 600 people to ask when faced with a tighter budget, which things they would struggle to give up.