Waste Not Want Not

With the sky rocketing cost of groceries, it is important to conserve your resources.  As Americans we throw away 25 to 50 percent of the food we buy.  Just eliminating the waste will save each of us a thousand or more dollars a year on  groceries.  I set a goal of recycling all the food in the refrigerator and not throwing anything away.  In eight months I threw three items away.  I thought that was pretty miraculous.  Here are some ideas that might help you do the same.

The most important step is to clean your refrigerator every week as you plan menus.  That way everything gets rotated and you don’t grow science projects.  I found that I could make two or three new meals from what was leftover from the week before.  I would either serve them the coming week or freeze for later. 


  • Make your own TV dinners out of leftovers.
  • Cook in quantity and freeze. This takes less time and less fuel. And when time is limited you can put a meal in the microwave and have dinner ready in just a few minutes.  Check our blog on Cooking in Quantity for detailed information
  • Save dabs of this and that and when you have enough, have a buffet.  On date night I would often times pull everything out and let the children choose what they wanted.
  • Make baby food by putting small quantities of food in a baby food grinder or blender, pour into ice cube trays and freeze for individual servings.  When frozen put in plastic bags for easy storage and use.
  • Keep a container in the freezer for leftover gravy, vegetables and meat.  When it is full—make a stew.
  • Melt down various kinds of Jell-O salad and mix together; reset for a tutti-frutti salad.  Or mix leftover Jell-O salad or Jell-O in with a fruit salad for a little color and variety of taste.
  • Cook leftover pancake batter or waffles or French toast and freeze in a tightly sealed container.  When you want to use them, put them in the toaster or microwave and reheat.  Left-over waffles and French toast also make great breakfast sandwiches.
  • Use leftover egg whites or yolks for French toast batter or add to scrambled eggs.
  • When you have scraped your shortening can as clean as you can, melt the rest and pour it into your new can of shortening.
  • Accordion wrap meat in individual slices with plastic wrap and freeze.  You can take slices out one at a time without defrosting the whole bulk of meat.  Use as an extra treat at breakfast or lunch
  • Use everything in your fridge within 2 weeks
  • Dehydrate fruits and vegetables that cannot be used before spoiling
  • Compost items like egg shells that cannot be eaten
  • Dry stale bread, blend into a fine powder to use for coating mix. (See recipe below)
  • Freeze leftover soup in ice cube trays.  Store in plastic bags, use 3 or 4 cubes per serving.  Handy for lunch box meals.
  • Freeze slices of leftover cooked meat in gravy for hot sandwiches.  Or cut meat in cubes, add gravy and cooked vegetables and freeze.
  • Use good recipes instead of prepared mixes.  You pay a lot for the convenience of instant, precooked or prepared foods.  Take a little time to fix these yourself.  You can make just add water cake mixes and save 1/2 the cost. (Mixing it up with Grains cookbook)
  • Save fruit juice for punch or popsicles.
  • Save leftover juice from vegetables and meat broth for soup stock.


2 cups finely ground bread crumbs (I put the heels of bread, leftover muffins, biscuits, cornbread—any bread that is going stale in an open container in my cupboard.  When it is dry I grind it in my food processor and put it in another sealed container in my cupboard.  When that container is full I mix in the seasonings.  That way I have a rotation in place.)

1/3 cup dehydrated minced onions

1 tablespoon dehydrated parsley flakes

1 tablespoon seasonal (seasoned salt)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Mix altogether with a wire whisk and store in an airtight container.  Use on top of casseroles or for breading meat.


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Tags: Save money  save time  save resources  eat better for less  leftovers 

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