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Category: money saver

Don’t Throw That Out!

Don’t Throw That Out!

Leftovers don’t have to be boring and ruined dishes can be rescued. Both can be turned into something entirely different. Reusing food that you have already cooked is a great way to save time and money. Soup, sandwiches, casseroles, pizza, shepherds pie, fillings, and sauces are all good revivals for leftovers. Many people complain that one or more of their family members refuses to eat leftovers. A little creativity can change leftovers into something they will never recognize as last night’s dinner. An easy solution to repetition is simply to freeze leftovers the same day that the meal is cooked and serve it the next week. In fact, I strongly recommend cooking more than you need for one meal and freezing the rest for later as a time saver. When entrees and side dishes are frozen separately they can be mixed and matched for more variety. Try making extra gravy to freeze for mashed potatoes and gravy to go along with meals that do not lend themselves to gravy making.

The key to making leftovers great is your approach. Rather than asking yourself how you can re-serve that dish, think of meals that you would like to cook that call for those ingredients. Now you have saved some time by already having them cooked. This is great for pizza and soups. You may have to expand your horizons on pizza to make this work, but it is well worth it. I once made a filling that consisted of feta, garlic, and spinach. I wound up with more filling than I needed so a couple of days later I thawed out some leftover lemon chicken, whipped up a garlic cream sauce and made pizza with the leftover filling and some mozzarella on top. Any leftover meats and veggies can go on pizza or into a shepherd’s pie. Leftover meats go great in sauces, too. Burritos and enchiladas can always be filled with leftovers.

On another occasion I tried making mashed sweet potatoes, but decided I did not care for the flavor. So, I looked up recipes that called for sweet potatoes for some inspiration. I found one for pasta filling. I read through the recipe for a guideline and then improvised with my own ingredients. I made sweet potato ravioli with a garlic and sour cream sauce that became an instant favorite.

There are many wonderful alternatives to throwing food out. Be creative and have some fun with it. Never think of leftovers as just leftovers again!

Beef and Black Bean Burger Experiment

Beef and Black Bean Burger Experiment

Don’t freak out! I am not trying to wean myself off meat. I was trying to find a way to stretch the meat and save some money. Beef and bean burritos are great, so I thought I would try mixing beans with my meat for burgers. The plan was to use black beans and ground turkey since it cheaper than beef, but when I went to the store they were out of ground turkey, so I tried it with beef.

I tried using 2/3 beans 1/3 meat, but that was too mushy, so I added more meat making it half and half. That felt right, and I chilled it for a while to make it as firm as possible. I was able to make patties. The plan was to grill them, and that’s what I started to do, but the weather and the fire didn’t cooperate, so I brought them in and cooked them in the iron skillet. Turns out, that was a blessing in disguise. When they were done they were just crumbly enough that the grill would have been a disaster.

I think the crumbliness could be fixed by adding and egg or maybe a spoonful of bacon grease. I probably won’t be trying it myself, though. I wasn’t that impressed with them. My boyfriend liked them, and they weren’t bad at all, but they in no way satisfy a burger craving. So, at this point, if I want to save money, I’ll just eat burgers less often and really enjoy them when I do.

Here is how I did it. Just remember, like most substitute foods, this is good as long as you don’t try to think of it as the real thing.

2 cups Black beans (cooked)
2 cup Ground beef
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Oats
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs Maple syrup
4 large cloves fresh garlic

Drain beans, reserving a little liquid. Put everything except the meat in the food processor until smooth. You can add a tiny bit of the bean liquid if needed. Place in a large bowl with the meat and mix together with your hands. Chill the mixture. Form patties, cook for about 7 minutes on each side.