I have discussed this topic so many times over the years with various friends that I have lost count. It is amazing to me how often this topic is the first time they have thought about it or been taught how to do it. I am happy to help.
I learned first hand probably from being a child of a single mom, but mostly from my own experience of being a stay-at-home mom in the days when we had only $10 to last us for two weeks after all the bills were paid. I had to find a way to make our money stretch. Not only is it a way to save money, it can also save you cooking time. It keeps your refrigerator cleaned out as well which translates to less food waste which means less money wasted as well.
Here is how you do it. Basically, you need to make sure that most of the things on your list have a dual purpose. So, let’s say for example, you make tacos for dinner and buy a whole head of lettuce. After you use maybe 1/4 or 1/3 of your head of lettuce for your tacos, what do you do with the rest of the lettuce. The next night you can make Chicken Caesar Salad or a Cobb Salad to use the rest of your lettuce. Here is a sample menu of how you do this.
Chili (make a double batch or a recipe that makes uses 2 lbs of beef), cornbread
Rotisserie Chicken, rice (make double), vegetable
Sloppy Joes, waffle fries
Breakfast for Dinner (eggs (make extra), pancakes, bacon)
Chili Dogs, tater tots
Beef Turnovers, beef rice, vegetable
Chicken Pot Pie, biscuits
Teriyaki Chicken, fried rice
If you look closely, this menu includes at least two or three uses (depending on the size of your family) for an item in each one of your entrees. Let’s look at it.
Chili-If you make a big batch, you can use it to have regular chili one night, chili dogs, and even have some left over to put on top of nachos.
Breakfast for dinner-The leftover eggs from your breakfast can go into your fried rice you will make later in the week.
Rotisserie Chicken-Depending on the size of the chicken and your family, you can get at least two or three meals off of one chicken. I would say the average would be two. Eat the chicken as it is the first night. Make a chicken pot pie with the some of the leftover chicken and chicken broth from the Rotisserie Chicken, leftover corn (drain juice) from the Nacho night, leftover vegetables from Rotisserie Chicken and Beef Turnover nights, and cover with a quick Bisquick topping. I mix 2 cups Bisquick, 1 1/2 milk or buttermilk, and one stick of melted butter together. Pour the topping over the chicken mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Fried Rice-The recipe uses the eggs you have left over from the Breakfast for Dinner night as well as the leftover rice you had on Rotisserie Chicken night.
Sloppy Joes-I use half of my Sloppy Joes the first night. I usually have about a little less than half of what I have made left, and I will use it to make Beef Turnovers. I use two cans of crescent rolls. I separate each can of crescents rolls into four rectangles. Pinch the perforated seams closed and place the four rectangles on an ungreased cookie sheet. Put meat on one half of the rectangle, top with cheddar cheese, and fold over and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Poke a hole in the top for the turnover to vent. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. To see the Sloppy Joe recipe I use, CLICK HERE.
That is how you do it. When you are planning your meals, always be thinking about how you can use most of your items in two or three ways. Save time by cooking something once in larger quantities and use it again later in the week. Save money. Save time. Save food. Sounds good to me. Happy planning.