Planned Leftovers are exactly what they sound like: you plan to have leftovers by intentionally cooking more at once to save prep time later. Planned leftovers save you time and money because:
- You are cooking more at one time, eliminating that prep and cleanup time another night.
- You can plan the leftovers based on grocery store sales.
There are a couple of ways to implement planned leftovers:
- Cook a big meal one day and use the leftovers as the basis for one or two additional meals later in the week (such as cooking a roast chicken and planning to use the leftover chopped chicken in a stir fry, salad, or casserole).
- Cook a single ingredient in bulk to stock your freezer and use the cooked ingredients another week (this is where planned leftovers crossover with Freezer Cooking). This is a great way to save money when you find chicken or beef on sale—plan to cook grilled chicken in bulk and eat it for dinner and freeze the extra, or cook 5-10 lbs. of ground beef when it is on sale. You can have tacos or something easy for dinner and freeze the remaining cooked beef for later.
Incorporating planned leftovers can look like this:
The possibilities are endless and once you are in the habit of planning this way, it becomes second-nature.
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* Adapted from Secrets of a Busy Cook by Lynn Nelson, used by permission
Recipes Using Leftover Roast Chicken
Recipes Using Leftover Roast Beef
This quick stir fry is a perfect meal to make with leftover London broil, flank steak, skirt steak, or other firm cut of roast. Planned leftovers are a great way to cut your prep time while reducing food waste.