Thursday, 14 March 2013

Miserly March - Thrifty Thursday Tips - Week 2

Last week tips for Thrifty Thursday were all about using your freezer wisely and indeed lots of the things I am about to mention this week also make good use of the freezer.  It is a useful piece of equipment for anyone trying to save money on the food bill each week.
This week I am mainly talking about leftovers.  Of course leftovers can be just that, the last few ladles full of stew in the pan, the last few cooked potatoes that just didn't fit on the plate or made the portion size too big, or they can be purposeful leftovers.  The sort of leftovers that you plan ahead, roasting a chicken that is too big for your family and knowing that you can make extra meals out of it in the form of curries, soups, pasties to last all through the following week, and of course using the bones to make your own chicken stock ready to be popped straight into the freezer for future use.
Sometimes leftovers can be the last few items in the bag of frozen veg, that you would like to turn into the basis of a meal but seem too small to insignificant to fill up the family.  Either way with a bit of imagination you can stretch leftovers to make whole meals and sometimes meals that you would never have thought of making, and they can be wonderful.  This bake I made a while ago is a good example,
I simply added a bit of cheese sauce, (this one was made from half a tub of Philadelphia soft cheese mixed with some milk) to some frozen broccoli and the last few bits of cauliflower saved from the previous nights tea ....
.. adding a good handful of breadcrumbs and a topping of grated cheese straight from the freezer and then baked for 30 minutes in a hot oven, totally delicious and using up the last of lots of things and leftovers.  A meal out of virtually nothing and yet filling and tasty.
No matter how little I have of something left over, I pop it in a tub and put it in the fridge as soon as it has cooled down.  This gives me time to think what I want to use it for, if there is nothing I can think of or fancy for the next nights meal I will put it into the freezer instead and save it for future use when inspiration (or lack of funds) strikes.
These Mediterranean roasted veggies were actually made into two quiches with simply the addition of a ready made pastry bases, two eggs per quiche and a sprinkle of cheese, but they could just as easily been used to top a homemade pizza, popped in a couple of pastry circles, folded over and made into pasties, whizzed up in the liquidiser with a can of tomatoes into a wonderful pasta sauce or, if made a bit thinner with some stock, a big pan of soup.  So this little tub of leftover veggies would then be forming the base of a meal for at least two people,
How much better to save a little part of a meal rather than leaving the table stuffed and feeling yuk after forcing down that last little bit rather than 'wasting it'.  Better for the purse and the waistline!!
Of course purposeful leftovers are a really good idea to save money on fuel too. 
If you cook just a little bit too much one night you don't need to use extra fuel to cook from scratch the next day.  In this case the previous night we had a large plate of pasta each in a tomatoey sauce, so I just cooked a couple of extra handfuls of penne pasta, cooled it quickly under cold running water and stashed it in the fridge, knowing full well that the oven would be on the next night for baking a loaf and I could turn the leftovers into a tasty pasta bake with a large handful of homegrown spinach and some cheese sauce (and again it ended up with breadcrumbs and cheese on top) and have it in the oven at the same time as the bread.  Saving me time and fuel cooking the pasta first.
Sometimes leftovers can be as simple as a bowl of homegrown New Potatoes, saved in the fridge from the previous nights evening meal and then served cold for lunch the next day with a sprinkle of herbs and a good dollop of mayo.
What do you do when you have half a lettuce and half a courgette leftover and not much else in the fridge and you have sudden lunch guests, once when this happened to me I turned to .....

Mum’s Lettuce and Courgette Soup
1 oz butter plus a small amount of olive oil
8 fresh large outside dark lettuce leaves roughly chopped
1 medium onion cut into small chunks
1/2 medium sliced courgette
1 chicken or veggie stockpots diluted with 1/2 a pint of hot water or a stock cube
1 level tsp turmeric
1 clove of Garlic, crushed or finely chopped
salt and pepper
2 large spoonfuls of yogurt to stir in at the end
Soften the onion, lettuce, courgette, in the oil and butter for 5 minutes, do not let it brown
Then stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes
Then blitz with your blender.
Serve with a swirl of yogurt, if you have it.
It turned out a treat, and with addition of a bit more water served three of us with a slice of crusty homemade bread each. It doesn't taste of lettuce really which you would expect to be a bit insipid but has a depth of flavour that you really do have to taste to appreciate. I've made it since and it freezes beautifully. 

So this was a case of unplanned leftovers, but it does show you that it is wise to hang on to that half a courgette that might otherwise have found it's way into the compost bin ... or heaven forbid the dustbin.

A brilliant Blog to read if you want inspiration for leftovers of all kinds is Suzy Bowler's Blog 'Sudden Lunch' on my sidebar to the right. HERE is one of my favourite and quick ideas for using up a little piece of salmon you might find lurking on a plate in the fridge. Delicious :-)

Oh, and what I meant to say right at the top of this post, is you see the pies in the picture, well virtually any leftover can be popped into a small pie or pasty and be turned into a wonderfully filling meal. Everything from pasta in cheese sauce (a favourite in many Scottish pie shop are Macaroni Cheese pies and that is what you will be making), to a spoonful or two of baked beans either on their own or mixed with some leftover potatoes (mashed or chopped), a tiny bit of meat, see this post for more info on making a teeny tiny bit of steak go a long, long way, of course my absolute favourite pie filling is cheese and onion, and using a handful of grated cheese from the freezer and as much onion as you have left over from making another dish makes this a quick and economical pie filling. If any of your proposed fillings are a bit dry a little bit of gravy mix made up will soon remedy this or make a simple white or cheese sauce.

I hope some of these tips are helpful, and to those of you who may have read them before I apologise, but I do seem to have a lot of new regular readers - welcome to you all. Any way it is always nice to have your memory jogged with things you may have done yourself before and then got out of the habit of, something I am notorious at.

After a comment yesterday asking for recipes I will try and include some whenever possible, I might even get round to having a stand alone page with the cost cutting recipes I use on a regular basis at the top of the Blog.

I'll get to it soon - promise !!

Sue xx


  1. Thank you so much for all your super food saving tips, especially the freezer ones. I now think about every scrap of food and freeze nearly everything left over. It's amazing how much 'extra' food it creates.
    Jean x

  2. Replies
    1. How's the cooking coming. Is your family showing it appreciation for your efforts?

    2. It's a pleasure Tasmanian Minimilist :-)

      Lynda, Lovely Hubby appreciates virtually everything I put in front of him, the only things he will not eat are peanut butter and egg mayo sandwiches, so I just make these for myself. He never complains, the worst reaction he has ever given me was 'I don't think you need to make that again' but even then he had cleared his plate!!

  3. Thanks Sue, great post and handy tips. There is such a thirst in the world today for this type of information in a form that is easily accessed and also done in such a homey and entertaining way. Its like having a special friend or an older family member (not that you are old) that you keep coming back to for advice. Cheers from Down Under.

  4. We do a good line in eating leftovers too - both planned and real leftovers. Any soup or stew created here will contain various "bits" from tubs in the fridge. Often the additional flavours added in this way will turn the ordinary meal into something special. And all in the name of being thrifty : )

  5. I'm much better at this than I used to be as I hate wasting food.
    I'm still making a lot of the same foods I made for three of us, now we're down to two I always freeze a portion. It's an easy way to build up freezer 'ready meals' and saves on oven use. :)

  6. Can never have too many reminders in my humble opinion. The other day I made a small one portion of curry feed two. Today I have made a big pot of vegetable soup using up wilted and even worse vegetables with all the bad bits cut off! Check out my post today Sue on saving my left over citrus peelings.

  7. I call our freezer meals "To Go" meals. They save us lots of grocery money and keep us away from drive thru windows when I don't feel like cooking. Great post!

  8. I've saved a fortune over the years making things like these! However, since we discovered that my husband's IBS is mainly caused by cheese, and to a lesser extent potatoes and if he eats too much wheat, things have got harder. One thing we use now is vegan "cheese" sauce; Free and Easy make one; it's dairy free and wheat free and very low fat, about £2 for a small tub, I found it in Holland and Barrett and Co-op. Not an advert; not as good as the real thing, but it makes your ideas possible for us.

  9. I would love it if you did a special recipe section, I am viewing all my cooking in a different way after reading your posts.
    Lisa x

  10. Mmmmm....macaroni pies! That's a great point actually - I might make those as a surprise for MrEH one day - he loves them! A firm favourite of mine is encasing leftovers in pastry - most things seem to be more than acceptable that way!

  11. No leftovers are wasted in our house and during the week there's always one or two meals made entirely of leftovers. I also often cook extra portions to keep in the fridge ready for a quick meal when I know I won't have much time, plus it saves on gas or electricity as you said.

  12. Those pies are making me drool... I went to the 'steak' post, but you don't give a pastry recipe. Or how long you bake it at what temp. Could you please explain in more detail, for us backward Yanks?

    Thanks so much. I'm a new reader, and much enjoying your blog.

  13. Thank you for jogging my memory, it seems to need a good jog these days lol. Love the dinky pies, mine went down really well last weekend and filled up sons freezer nicely. Its great to have some pastry cases in the freezer for any bits of leftovers, we love a roast dinner pie with lashings of left over gravy. I love cheese sauce on leftover vegetables it reminded me of a vegetable hot pot I used to make, must make that again too. Quiches are on my to do list for Saturday.

    Thank you for taking the time to do the Thursday Tips its a great way of reminding us that simple tasks make for an easier and tastier frugal life.

    Karen x

  14. There is something wholly satisfying about making a meal from leftovers.

  15. I love making pies and pasties from leftovers, never the same twice and always tasty. Think it stems from my mam who would often make plate pies with any bits and pieces lurking about - her pies were legendary!


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