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How To Eat Leftovers & Not Waste Them

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One of the decluttering missions on the site is to throw away all the old food, including leftovers, that you've got in your fridge that you know you will not eat anymore.

Inevitably, when people do this mission (and when I do it for myself as well!), we begin to ponder how to eat leftovers, and not waste that food in the future.

There are so many reasons as I toss food in the trash that I feel guilty, such as that food waste costs us money, and also it isn't being a good steward of the resources we're blessed with.

That isn't meant as judgment. Trust me, I've had some containers of old leftovers that have become a science experiment that I've discovered in my fridge before. I think just about everyone has.

But I don't like it! It's gross to deal with. (Admit it -- you've thrown away a container rather than clean the yuckiness in there before! At least I know I have.)

But also for the reason I said above. I dislike that I've wasted food. It feels wrong.

So today let's explore common causes of the problem, and then work on simple steps we can take to make sure our family is eating leftovers, and we aren't throwing away food anymore.

Possible Fix: Don't Cook As Much

The first thing to consider is that perhaps you or others in your household just don't like leftovers.

I don't mind eating them myself, but for example my mother will do almost anything to avoid eating them. She just doesn't like it. So for her, it's better to not have them, it's the simplest way to avoid food waste for her.

The solution for those who realize this is their problem is to cook less food for each meal.

That will require some changes to your habits, but your wallet will thank you when you are purchasing less food, and still feeding everyone!

Three Organizing Habits That Help Everyone Eat Leftovers

For the rest of us that don't mind leftovers, or even enjoy them (and the convenience of not having to cook as often when we have them), usually the problem with eating leftovers is that we're not doing
a few simple organizational tasks, or habits, that will make it easier for you and your family to remember to eat those leftovers.

Habit 1: Schedule A Consistent Time To Eat Your Leftovers

First, schedule a consistent time during the week, or every few days, that you eat leftovers.

This can be consistently eating them the next day for lunch, or having a leftover night planned into the meal plan for the week regularly.

The point is to make sure you allot time to eat the food you've already prepared. This will save you money, and also time since you'll also have to cook less frequently.

Habit 2: Label & Date Food Storage Containers & Place On Leftovers Shelf In Fridge

5 food storage safety tips
Second, designate a specific spot in your refrigerator, either a whole shelf or part of a shelf, for leftovers, and always place those items there, and then let people know, through labels on the food containers or in some other way, what leftovers are available and how old they are.

Often family members have no idea what is available, or don't know how old it is, so they're wary to eat it. Just keeping everyone informed of what is available goes a long way toward making sure the leftovers actually get eaten.

(Also make sure you're using these 5 food storage safety tips so when you and your family eat these leftovers they are safe to eat!)

Habit 3: Clean Out Your Refrigerator Of Old Leftovers Regularly

Third, to the extent that some food is not eaten, make sure you're clearing it out of the fridge regularly.

The two best times to do this is the day before garbage pick up day, so the food doesn't just sit in the garbage for too long getting gross.

The other good day to do this is the day before you grocery shopping, so the fridge is clear and ready for new food when you bring it back to your home the next day.

Along with these three habits, I've gotten some really great additional tips provided by readers for how they've implemented some simple strategies to eat their leftovers.

Some of these highlighted in the article itself, plus there are even more great ideas in the comments below!

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Keep A Simple List Of Leftovers Available On The Fridge

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I got this tip from a reader, Susan, recently. It is so absolutely simple, but simple tips that work are the absolute best!

She sad, "I'm finding it helps to keep a list on the fridge of what leftovers, veggies, etc. need to get used up. Leftovers aren't getting lost in the back of the fridge as much."

If you don't want to use a piece of paper like I used for the illustration above, another great idea would be to use a little magnetic wipe board that you keep on the fridge where everyone can write the leftovers available, and just mark them off, or erase those words when they've been used up.

White Boards For Refrigerator {Referral Links}

So many people asked me for a printable to keep track of your leftovers that I finally created one for you. You can grab your copy here!

A reader, Jacqueline, sent in this photo below of her leftovers list in action.

Keep a list of the leftovers you've got in your refrigerator, so everyone knows what is available, and you'll reduce food waste in your home {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Jacqueline said, "During this latest decluttering challenge of eating out of the fridge and freezer, I also found a mini-whiteboard that I had bought at Hobby Lobby. It looks like a menu board. I wrote down all the older stuff in the fridge, freezer, and pantries that I wanted to target this week and we have used up a lot. I wipe the items off as they are used. I think I will keep doing this to remind myself (and other cooks as my kids help) of the priority foods (expiration dates coming up, leftovers) to use up."

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Label Leftover Containers So You Know What Is Available To Eat

Make it easy for you and your family to eat leftovers by creating a designated leftovers shelf in your refrigerator, plus labeling and dating all leftovers containers so everyone knows what is available and how old it is! {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

I already mentioned above that labeling leftovers containers was one of the best ways to actually make sure someone in your household eats them.

Then, I got this photo above, that was sent in by a reader, Karen, who implemented this strategy with great success, so I wanted to feature it here in the article.

Karen said, "What a difference a year makes! Thank you Taylor! Last year decluttering my refrigerator took an entire morning and I threw out a garbage bag full.

This year 15 minutes and I discarded five condiment items off the door. Thanks to my weekly cleaning schedule Tuesday is the day I clear food out of the fridge before trash goes out on Wednesday. So it has stayed organized.

As many others have mentioned I highly recommend the leftover shelf. I started this last year and clearly labeled it. It really helps! Here is mine."

Great job Karen! It looks great, and I'm so glad you're eating your leftovers now, instead of having food go to waste!

What Are Good Labels For Leftovers Containers?

A frequently asked question I get, when suggesting to label your leftovers, is what kind of labels will work best.

This is a practical question, because the label needs to be used only short-term, a few days at most, and then changed the next time something new goes in the container. Plus, the container itself is going to get washed between uses!

There are a couple different ideas. The first was sent in by a reader, Sandy. She said, "I found a wonderful way to label leftovers. I was looking at the store for some freezer tape to use but never found any, but I was over in the canning section and I saw some Ball dissolvable labels for canning jars.

I was skeptical at how dissolvable they actually were since I was going to be using them on plastic bowls and lids, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how easy they did dissolve under running water with no effort.

So now I have leftovers in various bowls with names and dates of when I cooked them, and no longer wonder how long it has been sitting in there.

I have not tried them in the freezer yet, but I would not think it would be any different."

Dissolvable Labels For Food Containers {Referral Links}

Another possibility are erasable labels (shown below), made specifically for things like food storage containers.

These labels allow permanent marker to be erased as often as needed, and the labels are microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.

Erasable Labels For Food Containers {Referral Links}

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

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Do you have an Instant Pot hiding in your cabinet? Want to learn how to use it? Sign up for Instant Pot School! It's free, and it will help you put that time-saver to work!

Learn more about this free course, and why I'm recommending it in my article all about Instant Pot School.

Taylor's review of free Instant Pot School course

How to make sure your family eats leftovers so they don't go to waste, you save money, and you have to cook less {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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Comments for Label Leftover Containers So You Know What Is Available To Eat

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post-it notes for labels
by: Linda

We use post-it notes to put day/date on top of leftover containers. Everything gets cleaned out on Tuesday, the night before garbage day.

shelf in refrigerator dedicated to leftovers
by: Erin

Every few days I do this! I have a shelf (or portion of a shelf) dedicated to leftovers. Older towards the front, newer in the back!

label with masking tape
by: Michelle

I always label my left overs with masking tape, adding the date and the food inside.

Erasable Labels
by: Angel

I use erasable labels for my food containers (referral link). I put a label on each one of my food containers and Velcro the pen and the eraser inside the fridge so I don't lose them. One of the best investments I ever made!

we have "Leftover Night"
by: Laura

Each week (at our house) Thursday night is "Leftover Night". I pull all of the leftovers from the week out and everyone chooses their favorite from the week. Whatever is left after my three boys have eaten probably won't get eaten so then I throw it out.

freeze them
by: Anonymous

I put them in freezer bags, label, and put them in the freezer.

portion my leftovers into single servings to take for work the next day
by: Megan

I usually cook for just myself, but sometimes my boyfriend too. I find it is easiest for me if I portion out leftovers into single servings. Then I'm not as tempted to skip packing my lunch for work because it's extra work to scoop out of the leftover container what I want for the next day. I can just grab one serving and go.

Not that it's a lot of extra work, but when it comes to going to bed at night (if I'm packing my lunch then) or leaving for work in the morning, every extra minute is precious!

I freeze leftovers immediately
by: Patty McKee

I find that leftovers do not get eaten from the fridge in my house so I've started freezing leftover items immediately after the meal. Leftover chicken or other meats get cubed and frozen for soups and casseroles. Same with vegetables. Dishes like pasta get frozen in individual containers. My husband travels for work so on those weeks that I'm on my own I will frequently pull out an already portioned container and reheat it rather than cooking something new. Everything gets labeled with a date.

About once a month we order pizza from our favorite local restaurant and we always get the largest size. It is only a couple dollars more than the medium. We each eat a piece or two, then I freeze the remaining slices individually. Very easy to grab one and throw it on the pizza stone in the oven.

I have a dedicated area in the freezer just for leftovers so they are easy to find. I find that we eat more leftovers now and really save on food waste.

Leftover plan - part of my overall meal planning
by: Linda B

I just started planning my menus a month in advance and spending a day cooking/prepping. Part of the plan is "Leftover Friday." All leftovers go on the bottom shelf of the fridge and are up for grabs for lunch or snacks, and whatever is left is dinner on Friday.

If there are no leftovers we have pizza or taco salad (or use these to supplement the leftovers). I feel good about not wasting food and not having to find anything fuzzy in the back of the fridge, and no leftovers are more than a week old, so there's no "when is this from?" anymore.

Leftover list on fridge
by: Gill Egan

I made up a small leftovers list whiteboard that sits on the front of the fridge door. As leftovers go in they're written on the whiteboard, as they're used up they're wiped off.

All of my container lids have clear sticky-tape strips on top and I use a permanent marker pen on them to write the contents and date. The marker rubs off easily and the sticky-tape lasts quite a few rounds through the dishwasher before I replace them.

We also made a rule that the kids had to eat leftovers after-school rather than instant noodles. It's not always practical, but it usually works out.

Leftovers Soup
by: Margaret Mary Myers

If I have leftover rice and veggies I make a leftovers soup. For stock, I check to see if I have any leftover spaghetti sauce. If not, I might use an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and a cup of water, or water with bouillon, or a little gravy, whatever I have on hand. A little chopped meat or chicken is good if I have it, or even a few meatballs from the freezer if I don't have any meat leftovers. I add some basil or oregano, salt unless what I have is already salty enough, and then heat it up on the stove. Caution: I check each leftover item carefully before adding it, bringing it up from the bottom of the container with a spoon, because the bottom of the food usually spoils first. (Don't ask me how I know. :) ). My children, at all ages, used to really enjoy this soup, and I still do sometimes.

Sunday is leftover day, right before garbage day
by: Anonymous

Sunday is left over dinner day. Everyone gets to eat whatever they want from the leftovers. That way they get eaten before the garbage day the next day and we are usually busy doing family time and/or weekend projects so I don't have to cook. Some weekends depending on what we had for dinner all week I may need to cook a side or even the main dish like chicken breasts to go with the leftovers but for the most part it works out pretty well.

transforming our leftovers into something else helps me want to eat them
by: Anonymous

I'll make quesadillas with leftover meats we don't feel like eating, or throw certain meats and cooked veggie leftovers into soup. Making them into something else sometimes helps me want to eat them since it doesn't feel like the same thing twice.

Also my husband packs leftovers into a lunch portion to take to work the next day right as we're putting the food away.

Some things I'll freeze a single portion that seems too small to save for a leftover since it makes a good lunch for me or our kids when I don't have time later.

We also freeze fruit that's getting too soft for smoothies.

leftovers list is my meal plan for the week
by: Anonymous

I make a weekly list that I post on the fridge. Each day of the week I write what was cooked that day, so that finding tuna on Wednesday, the list would tell you that it was prepared on Monday, thus no confusion about how old the leftover is. Each Sunday a new list is posted. When the food is consumed, it is crossed off that weeks list. Works for us.

consider packing them up for elderly or sick members of your church
by: Cynthia Reed

Hello, I just read your page and have a possible solution. We are making freezer meals for out missionaries from out ward. I am LDS and although they eat regularly with the members sometimes they don't have an appointment or they may feel ill and can't go out or expose others. We are putting together this week to serve 2 meals in one foil container. We will make six meals to help them out. I encourage casseroles that would have 2 servings left over. Add a separate veggie and a freezable dessert and you have a meal.

Please think about all the ways members of churches could provide meals for the elderly or the sick members. I am sure they would be grateful.

food ideas for using leftovers
by: Anonymous

For years due to never having much money and having five kids to feed I never threw out any leftovers. I would chop up any meat and or vegetables and add to eggs, and scramble them up all together for either a hearty breakfast or lunch. Never any waste at all. My husband and I still do this today.

If you have lots of leftover mashed potatoes you can make potato patties or make mashed potato salad, tastes just like regular potato salad, only no potato chunks.

And you can always save leftover meat. Put it in a large freezer bag and label pork, beef, chicken, add any leftovers to it that has been cooked until you get enough to use in a casserole or in soup or stews. No waste and lowers the food bill. I throw all my leftover cooked vegetables in a freezer safe container, peas carrots, green beans, etc. and then when I get enough I make a pot of vegetable soup or vegetable beef soup.

Mix leftovers to make new meals
by: Faye

If I make a pot of Chili Beans on Monday and Mac and Cheese on Tuesday, then Wednesday I mix them to make Chili Mac. With leftover beans one can make dishes with tortillas and cheese. Potatoes too. You can have boiled potatoes for one meal and then with the leftovers make potato salad. Baked potatoes can be served with leftover broccoli, chili beans, cheese, sour cream, etc.

Another idea, invite others over to help you eat them.

Fridge helpers - simple stickers
by: Anonymous

Just myself and hubby now so I have started putting little dated stickers on things when I open them so I don't have to guess how long its been in the fridge. Like Cheese whiz and Peanut butter, Jam, Miracle whip, etc.This has helped me in this area.

Left over labeling
by: Anonymous

I put a piece of tape on the lid and with a sharpie mark the date and write what the food is. It makes it easy for others to know what it is and super easy for me to know when to throw it out. I also date all condiments by writing the date on the label when I open it.

leftover plates
by: Anonymous

When putting leftovers away I use microwave safe covered plates. I fix plates with everyone's favorites until it is gone. This way kids and husband do not have to drag everything out and dig in every bowl to find what they want. Working good so far!

labeling leftovers with dry erase marker
by: Deidre

I label leftovers with a dryer erase marker! The writing easily wipes off of a container when done.

how I use various leftovers
by: Katie

If I have made a casserole or have leftovers from a meal I may freeze them into portions and put in freezer so they can be taken in lunch box and eaten for lunch, or on a day when I don't feel like cooking.

Left over vegetables I might use to make some soup and mix it with some grains/lentils to make it stretch further.

Leftover bread which has gone stale I make into breadcrumbs to sprinkle over mac/cheese or a pie which wants a breadcrumb/cheese topping or cut into crouton sizes, bake in over with rosemary/garlic to toss in a salad.

Leftover fruit can make into a smoothie. Bananas I freeze to make banana bread.

Now all those little portions of sauces left in bottles, in the side of a fridge, condiments, hot sauce etc - that is where my fridge gets cluttered up. I guess one could transfer them to smaller Tupperware containers and mark them as they start running out - any suggestions, although you need to watch the sell by dates on those as well as dried herbs which can sit in one's larder for a while too.

"Cafeteria Night"
by: Peggy

When our kids were at home we used to love to go to the local cafeteria for dinner because everyone could pick something different. Then I implemented Cafeteria Night at home. I'd make a small amount of the entre the "boss" liked (if needed) and put out the left overs for everyone to make their own selection. What wasn't eaten that night was discarded.

Shelf labels
by: Anonymous

I could not get kids or myself to consistantly label containers so I labled the shelves. We ate leftovers on Wednesday because it was church night so no leftovers on Wed. Therefore shelves were Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The first portion of leftovers was portioned for next day lunch and all others were placed on approiate shelf. If not eaten by Wed. then it was warmed for supper. If Sunday rolled around and there were anything on the shelf from last week, the wildlife got a treat for the week.

My Leftovers Solution...
by: Pat

1. I start by cooking less. Less food on the table means less in the way of leftovers. I divide up when I bring food in from the grocery store - one package of chicken can be divided so that it makes two separate meals and I don't end up cooking the whole package at once. By doing this I usually end up with no more than two servings of any one meal. It's taken me a long time to figure this out, but it really does work at our house.

2. I have a clear plastic box that is labeled "leftovers." It's large enough to hold several individual serving containers and it sits at eye level in the refrigerator. Leftovers are always designated as "free eats" whenever anyone is hungry. Family can pull out the leftovers box and eat whatever they want. First come, first served.

3. Once I've fixed a meal from the menu plan any unused food from opened cans or packages of things like chips or crackers goes to the "snacks" bowl on the counter. This is another "free eats" location. I try to keep this bowl current with fresh fruit and the occasional baked muffins as well.

**The pantry cabinets are strictly off limits to snack hungry monsters. Our family voted in the following rule:

IF the pantry gets raided and I discover missing meal preparation items in the process of fixing dinner, the offender gets fined and must do two things. One: replace the cost of the item into the family fun funds jar. Two: drive into town - immediately (which is a big deal since it's a 45 minute round trip to the grocery store and said trip must be done now, even if you're in your pajamas) - and purchase the missing item so Mom can finish fixing dinner. It is very VERY seldom that we've had to enforce this rule. Twice with daughter, once with husband. Maybe this explains why there are no family fun funds in the jar... **

Menu of Leftovers
by: Anonymous

About once a week we have leftover night - where my youngest daughter takes orders from each family member- while I work on warming up the appropriate items. We have a decorated card stock menu cover listing appetizer, main meal, drinks, dessert, then just post-it note in the options for the week in the correct section. She then puts the name of the person who ordered it next to each item- as our leftover night is first come first served - so order quick for best selection. Anything still remaining after leftover night gets tossed.

"Crafty" way to label leftovers in fridge
by: Theresa

I keep an extra fine tip sharpie permanent marker & a non-permanent chalk marker (that I purchased at a craft/hobbies store) on my fridge. I use the permanent marker to label broth/coconut milk (etc.) cartons with the new expiration date. I just put the 14th day after opening on the top in the best before date space e.g. EXP 02/14. I use the chalk marker to write on dishes, lids, glass containers. This washes off when the container gets cleaned! These are the kind large coffee shop chains use to draw on their menu boards and chalk board promotions.

Have fun turning your leftovers into new meals
by: jnaumann

We do schedule a time to eat our leftovers. However, I use my leftovers for pot luck dinner one or two nights a week. I will take a look at what is left over and re-purpose it into a new meal and no one ever really knows that it's leftovers.

Example: leftover #1: Chicken, rice & veggies leftover Monday...on Wednesday I will use red, yellow & green peppers and stuff them with the left over ingredients, top it off with a can of tomato sauce and bake it...Stuffed Peppers!

Leftover #2: Spaghetti & Broccoli leftover from Tuesday night...on Thursday I will saute some chicken, cabbage, carrots (and whatever else you like) scramble egg, soy sauce add my leftovers and call it LoMein!

Leftover #1 could have also been turned into Fried Rice or even Stuffed Squash. Have fun with it!

leftover night planned into the menu
by: Jodie

As a family of 10 leftovers shouldn't be a problem, yet it still is! The main reason is there is usually never enough "leftover" to feed everyone an entire meal. Therefore, I instituted a "Leftover" night on my menu (sometimes I insert an extra if It seems necessary). On this night I pull everything out and it is free choice, the kids love it. Recently I tweaked this a bit due to a very picky 6 year old. Although we still encourage him to try a few bites I then allow him to choose from the leftovers instead of battling at the dinner table (call me lazy!). I won't make him anything special, it has to be leftovers from the fridge!

putting leftovers in jars
by: Anonymous

I find that putting leftovers in jars let's family see what is available. If I have a small amount of left over vegetables I put them in a soup mix container in the freezer, to be used when I make homemade soup. Works well to conserve resources.

Limit Containers
by: Marcia

I control my leftovers by limiting my storage containers. I generally use 3 different sizes, and I buy them to easily nest together in the cabinet. When I am running low on empty containers I know that I must use up food in the refrigerator and freezer.

Leftovers conquered
by: Anonymous

I live with my husband, who has always been tidy. We threw quite a bit of spoiled leftovers away, because they were hidden.

Now, all leftovers are on the second shelf. Today the shelf is empty! I also check the produce bin and I can easily see what veggies must be eaten that day. No more spoiled veggies!

my ideas
by: Sallie

Sometimes you can mix two leftovers into one or add something to make new. As in leftover spaghettii. Add cottage cheese and motzarella and make a lasagne. Or add stew over rice or noodles.

We always cleaned out the frig on Sunday night for buffet style. What wasn't eaten was thrown away.

Freeze leftovers on coated paper plates (meat, veg. etc.) Cover, label and have your own TV dinners!

Using leftovers
by: Rhonda

With a college student who worked nights, a high school student and myself working second shift, the thing that worked best for me was a dry erase board on the fridge. It had two columns, one told what the food was and the other gave the last usable date (7 days later). When the food was gone, the entry was erased. This has worked better for me than anything else I have ever tried.

Freezing left overs
by: QotS

I find cooking for one a pain, since I end up eating leftovers for 3-4 days. Sometimes I end up throwing food away just because I can't face eating it another day. So I started eating 1 portion, freezing 1 portion immediately and put the rest in the fridge. The frozen portion gets rotated back in a week or two later. This way I don't get so tired of eating the leftovers.

Play restaurant
by: Maureen

My kids love to play restaurant. Leftovers get listed as menu items on a chalkboard and they get to select from the options, realizing that the restaurant kitchen may run out of the daily specials.

encourage kids to eat them as after school snack
by: Anonymous

I encouraged our children when in grade school through high school to eat any leftovers in the refrigerator for an after-school snack. Chips, sugary cereals, salts junk food were all off-limits after school. For salty snacks, I only bought individual bags of chips and reserved them for lunch boxes only. This solved the problem of leftovers, and the kids ate more healthily, too.

Pre-plate for convenience
by: Kathleen

I pre-plate leftovers on our regular dinner plates, modestly portioned for one person, and then cover with saran wrap. I don't bother labeling contents because it is obvious what it is this way. This makes it super easy to just remove saran wrap and pop it in the microwave. It is easier than fixing anything else, so my husband and I are both highly motivated to eat them. I would say 95% get eaten, whereas if I just put all of it in a big container from which it has to be dished out, only 30% gets eaten. Also, if I try a new recipe and we don't really enjoy eating it, I usually just throw out the extras. This way my family trusts my pre-plated leftovers. They know they will like it, so there is no hesitating on eating it. Also, I am careful not to overload the plate and err on underfilling rather than overfilling. This helps reduce waste as well. Also, if you have extra, you can always give it away to someone. My mother and I are always trading leftovers. It is really nice.

Cheaper than labels: liquid chalk markers
by: Sabrina

I use a brightly-colored liquid-chalk marker to write directly on the container. I can easily read it on my containers and can write on any part of them. It works on glass and plastic. It comes off when I wash the dish but stays on fine in the fridge and freezer. I clip the marker to the side of my fridge with a magnet so it's always at hand.

New life for leftovers
by: Anonymous

Most recipes cater to 4 people, so we always have leftovers in our family of 2. I turn meatloaf into "meatloaf wellington" the next night, by wrapping in pastry and baking. Casseroles into small meat pies in the pie maker. Leftover soup always get frozen into 2 serve amounts.

Leftovers go to my freezer
by: Shaon

I keep a gallon sized container in my freezer and put all leftovers in there, even the 'juice' from canned vegetables. I toss in bits of left over meat as well. To date I've found nothing that can't go in except sweets and fruit. When the container is full I make vegetable soup, sometimes I have to add a little more meat, or a little more of a certain vegetable. I make the soup in my jelly pot and can the left over soup. This means I always have a quick meal in the pantry or something to give to others when cooking isn't convenient for them.

It's hard to stop cooking for lots of boys even with an empty nest now
by: Denise

It has been so hard to go from cooking for 5 boys and me and DH to cooking for 2. I'm trying but I still have leftovers and science experiments in my fridge. Any ideas? I do try making meals for two but hubs will take a lunch from a small amount of leftovers.

Serve as Buffet
by: Anonymous

We call them planned overs, never leftovers. When our children were small, on one night we served all the planned overs, kind of like a buffet, and it all disappeared. Even if there was only a very small amount of something it was put on the table. Some fruit, etc. can be added to make enough food.

Also something can be changed to a different meal, by adding the meat or chicken to pasta, rice, or noodles.

Freeze Them!
by: Anonymous

I have found we eat leftovers more if I can freeze them either in individual servings/meals or as a family dinner and pull them back out in a few weeks.

by: Anonymous

I use masking tape for labels. It's cheap n easy to remove. Learned that working in a restaurant kitchen. Also use a permanent marker w date on freezer bags when I freeze food. Don't can, but I write date on jar lids when I make jelly.

Eating leftovers
by: Teresa Blackburn

As a kid, my Mom would put all the leftover vegetables into a Crisco can in the freezer. When the can was full she would make soup or stew.

Loving our Leftovers!
by: Donna Jeanne

There are several leftover strategies I have used that saved them, made them taste great, and kept me from having to throw ANYTHING out!

1) Soup...whenever I had a small amount of rice, potatoes, veggies, I would put in a freezer container, until it was full enough to start a "from scratch" soup (garlic and onions sauteed, some leftover meat ...then add the frozen leftovers, plus some broth to taste

2) Pasta...I would always have some pasta, some sauce, and/or meat, and I'd just throw it all together with some sour cream, extra cheese, in layers, and make a casserole of it! :) Everyone loved this!

3) Roasted Chicken or Turkey...after Thanksgiving, or anytime I served a roasted chicken, I would take the carcass, add water to fill a pan, and cook a long time on the stove (with onions, garlic, and whatever else)...after long cooking, remove carcass, strain juices, leaving only the clear broth, put the meat (removed from bones) back into soup and add veggies, rice, or potatoes :)

Call it something else
by: Whendi

We used to put all the left overs out on the counter & let the kids ‘order’ what they wanted. Pretty well any combination was ok. We called it ‘McDonalds’ night.

Starting to be a problem
by: Anonymous

I live with my 80 something parents. Until recently we have had no problems eating food as we cook it and just not cooking again until we need new food. My Mom has been having problems eating and recently my Dad lost his appetite. So I’m cooking less food and less frequently. Shopping less often. But still eating their leftovers. Came here to see suggestions. Part of the problem is their food is bland now. So I can add spices to their food but can’t serve them mine. I’m also eating their peels, as in apple cucumber squash, as I always heard most of the vitamins are in the skin. Then they ask me to buy something they used to like, grapes and guavas recently, but find they are too tart or hard to chew now. So I have those leftovers too. I haven’t resorted to freezer or trash too much yet but soon.

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