What's for dinner? Garbage soup
Don't throw out that dab of mashed potatoes or quarter-cup of corn. Repurpose even tiny amounts of leftovers into future meals.
(And if you still have them? Eeewww. Go clean them out right now.)
There's a better way to deal with dabs of mashed potatoes or a few spoonfuls of green beans. When life hands you leftovers, make "garbage soup."
Designate a jar, container or freezer bag for foods left over from a meal that you think will be forgotten in the fridge: the last few bites of corn, an eighth of a cup of gravy, the rice from the bottom of the pot, scraps of meat left from carving the roast or the chicken.
When the bags are full, pour some stock (homemade or store-bought) and seasonings into a pan. Add canned tomatoes or tomato puree if you want. Simmer this mixture for 15 or 20 minutes, then add the contents of the freezer bags. Heat thoroughly, adjust the seasonings, and dinner is served.
Frugal twice over
This potage de garbage is always rich and interesting because of the sheer variety of ingredients. It's never the same dish twice, though, because of that variety.
But it's frugal every time, for two reasons:
- "Not enough to save" bits of food that would otherwise have been thrown out are instead turned into a hot meal.
- Knowing the makings are on hand might keep you from ordering a pizza. After all, it takes about as long to wait for a delivery as it does to make the soup.
Or maybe more than a dab: If you've eaten leftover chicken, potatoes and vegetables three nights in a week and there's still enough for another meal, there's no reason you can't turn it into future soup. Better that than setting it aside for "later" and having the leftovers turn into a science experiment in a far corner of the fridge.
More on MSN Money:
I am a batch cook so I generally freeze anything over 2 servings and use a week (or 3 or 6) later.
However, Wed I took all the stem pieces from 3 stalks of broccoli (that I do NOT like to eat as a veg) covered with chicken bouillon, added spices (minced onion, parsley…..) and made myself some broccoli soup. Add some powdered mile to make it cream of.
Being vegetarian, I start my "garbage soup" with sauteed onions, garlic, etc. then a good base of dried beans or peas. When those are nearly cooked, I kick into action and go through every left over, frozen or otherwise, and every vegetable left over or soon to be, in my freezer and crispers! It is amazing how filling and delicious, not to mention healthy, that this type of soup can be! My last batch was topped off with a small frozen portion of left over mashed squash from Thanksgiving! I was thrilled to find it in the freezer, even two months later.
It was too small a portion to serve conventionally to a family, but it finished off the soup perfectly!
There is no sense whatsoever in throwing out good, healthy and still edible food, not to mention the savings.
Go fot it!
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
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Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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