Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Answer To The End Of The Month Crunch


At the end of the month we sometimes find ourselves squeaking by. With a budget as tight as we have, even little surprises can leave us scrambling to make ends meet. One of the biggest ways I have to offset a zero-balance-end-of-the-month budget is a full freezer.

To some, a full freezer means intentionally stocking it with extra groceries. But my version is a little different. I mean, if I had extra money, of course I'd try to fill it with surplus groceries. What I normally find myself having extra of... is leftovers.

Almost every home cooked meal in this house has leftovers. Spaghetti, casseroles, soups and stews usually get returned to the kitchen after a meal with a little bit left in the dish. While the kids are doing the dinner dishes (because in our house the cook NEVER has to clean up) I make sure that the leftovers get placed in containers, labeled, and dated and packed into the freezer. No more shoving it in the fridge only to be found later after it's started growing a beard. And we can build up quite a smorgasbord of meals in there after a while.

Then at the end of the month, when inevitably money is tight, I don't need to buy near as many groceries. At the end of last month we had sloppy joes from the freezer for lunch a few days, I even had some leftover pulled pork, chicken barley stew and several other things in there that got pulled out, warmed up and given a new life. Not only did it offset any lack in our budget but it saved me tons of time in the kitchen.

It's a simple thing to do if you just incorporate it into the after meal clean-up and requires no extra time or money on your part.

So if you find yourself with leftovers after dinner tonight, pack them away into your freezer for a night when funds are low and appetites are high. You will be glad that you did.

4 comments:

karen said...

This is a great way to use up leftovers (and stretch the end of the month)!

I also really like the website Super Cook (www.supercook.com). When I only have a few odds and ends of ingredients left in the house (and no money to go purchase new food!), I can enter those odds and ends into Super Cook and it will link to recipes that use those ingredients. It links to all of the big recipe sites: Food.com, All Recipes, Epicurus, etc. It has saved supper around here many a time! :) (Once, I only had two things to enter; it still found me a meal to make!)

Nicole said...

Great tip, Gayle! Usually my husband takes leftovers to work the next day. But, occasionally, I do have enough for another full meal. I plan to be better about getting it in the freezer instead of crammed to the back of the fridge.

Since we have all of our back-to-school expenses right now, I am planning to plan meals for the next two weeks out of our freezer stock. I have so many odds and ends that could be used. I am hoping to keep my grocery bill to a minimum this next two weeks.

Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

You are right. Left overs can and do make my grocery budget go a long way.
I make 'plates' of left overs. I have some divided plastic containers. I make a plate of the left over food to freeze. I lable the container with tape and a marker and I date it. Then when the kids are hungry and I am in a hurry there is always a frozen dinner ready for them in a matter of a few minutes.

Roxie

Robert said...

Gayle,

I love this it is like your own version of freezer meals without an entire extra day of cooking! We always eat everything every week but if I find a week when we don't I am going to use this.
I do a lot of at the end of the week, I am putting whatever is leftover into wraps I make the fruit into like turnovers with soft tacos , fruit , and confectioner sugar toppings,, the meats and cheeses become lunches , I also love leftover buffet I do this all the time.