nw mama’s meal planning: leftovers & inspiration

What to do with Leftovers (Re-Purposing)

I was once discussing grocery shopping and meal planning with a friend of mine, and when I said the word “leftovers,” she said that her family refuses to eat the dreaded “leftovers.” I know, I feel the same way about them. But I hate wasting food, especially when good, nutritious, fresh foods are often “not cheap.” Honestly, my family doesn’t eat “leftovers” either. We re-purpose what was left over and use it to make something new for the next dinner meal.

A couple examples:

This week we are having chicken and mashed potatoes. Most likely the chicken will get gobbled up the first night, but we’ll have a mound of potatoes left over. That’s okay! The next night we are having breakfast for dinner. Mashed potatoes will become potato puffs via a great recipe I found on Pinterest! If you are planning on enough chicken left over, it can be used for chicken salad wraps or chicken tacos the next night.

Roast beef is also expensive when feeding a large family on a budget, so I like to make it stretch! We might have traditional pot roast with lots of vegetables one night, and the leftovers will be used for stir fry, stew or french dip the next day.

Suggestion: If you are planning on using “leftovers” to make something new the next night, put the amount you need in the refrigerator before serving dinner. If your family is like mine, mark it so that it doesn’t get taken for lunches. This guarantees you will have what you need for the next evening’s meal.

Where to Find Inspiration:

  • Let your family in on the planning! Get suggestions from whoever shares your dinner table. Find out what they would like to see on the menu.
    • Example: One daughter loves pizza, one daughter loves hot dogs, both love chicken (baked, bbq’d, fried). I try to get those things on the menu once each month as a treat for them. My husband loves a good salad, so especially during the summer, we have salad bar a couple times a month.
  • Are you addicted to Pinterest yet? Do you have any favorite recipe websites or magazines? Do you have a board or binder or recipe box full of recipes that made your mouth water? Go look at them before you make your grocery list! I use both Pinterest and a few of my favorite recipe bloggers / websites to put my plan together.

This is the second post in my meal planning series. You can find the first one here: “nw mama’s meal planning: getting started.”

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nw mama’s dinner menu for week 22, 2014

I think the biggest benefit for meal planning is the flexibility it provides. I used to stress out at the beginning if I didn’t make what was on the menu for that particular night. Now that we have been doing this for a while, I am very comfortable swapping around the order of the meals as the week progresses, or “banking” them for another night if plans change. This week’s dinner menu is a little less creative and a little more simplistic. We are in the midst of some heavy spring cleaning and garden planting, so keeping prep to a minimum is key for us right now.

NW Mama’s Menu for May 26 – June 1

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spanish chicken – how do i love thee?

Delicious Spanish chicken complimented with fresh orange slices, potatoes and chorizo.In Sunday’s post, I gave you my dinner menu for this week. I have to admit that ever since I found it on Pinterest, I had been loo
king forward to making last night’s meal with a crazy similar excitement to preparing for holiday dinners. The difference is where holiday meals usually require much preparation and effort, this meal makes you look like you slaved for hours when it really only took 30 minutes, at the most, aside from the cooking time. Easy, delicious and pretty!

Oh, Spanish Chicken. You did not disappoint, and I will never be the same again. It was wonderfully plate-licking good and I have to say that there is very little I would change about this recipe.Read More »