Today I’m going to share how to waste less food by repurposing leftovers! This in turn will help you save money on your grocery budget because when we throw out less food, we aren’t throwing away money.
I don’t know about you, but I am so bummed when I’m cleaning out my fridge and I find something past expiration, or there were leftovers lost in the back or veggies were hidden underneath other produce and now they’re slimy and gross. All bummer situations because they lead to me tossing out food!
Repurpose leftovers for less food waste
Today I’m sharing how to repurpose leftovers to waste less food. And bonus, it will also help save you time in the kitchen!
I use the protein repurposing strategy in Fit Mama Meal Plan. Within each weekly meal plan, there are 2 proteins chosen. In that first dinner we cook the protein, but double the amount so that the leftover protein is waiting to be repurposed in the next meal. Then we do that again for 4 easy dinners each week.
An example of protein repurposing
Here’s an example of what protein repurposing looks like in my real life kitchen.
We enjoyed shrimp tacos on a Tuesday evening, and I cooked twice the amount of shrimp than I needed that night. Then, the next day, I used the leftover shrimp in an easy skillet jambalaya. Because my shrimp was cooked & seasoned it saved me time in that step!
Meal plan with repurposing in mind
When I meal plan each week, I use this strategy. I love the time-saving benefits, and also the reduced food waste with protein repurposing!
I start by picking my protein options for the week. Examples include ground beef, salmon, pork roast, chicken breast, chicken thighs, ground lamb, turkey loin, ground turkey, shrimp, beans and lentils, etc.
Why start with protein?
I find protein to be the most expensive part of my grocery budget. If I can find a great deal and stock up my freezer, then I know when I go to meal plan I can think about which protein I might already have on hand that I picked up for a lower price.
Cook the protein semi-separate
When I am cooking the protein for these meals, I think about how I can keep it separate.
What I mean by that is this – as I am cooking the protein (shrimp for shrimp tacos, for example), after it is cooked, I don’t combine all of it with the remaining ingredients. Before I’d move onto the next step, I’d set aside the protein portion that I want to save for later in the week.
What if you don’t have a meal plan?
By having a plan for your food, you already know it won’t get wasted. But what if you don’t have a plan? There are many times leftovers go into my fridge without a plan. So what do we do?
Let’s chat through some examples! Right now in my fridge, I have a lot of turkey lunch meat and leftover cooked chicken thighs that don’t have a plan. Here’s what I like to do with leftover protein:
If it’s not going to go into dinner, I love to add pre-cooked protein to my lunch and even breakfast. Turkey lunch meat could definitely go into sandwiches, or a wrap, or even a quick on-the-go snack. It’s a great topping chopped into salads, and dipped in hummus!
The chicken thighs that are cooked and shredded need to be used as well. They’re also great added onto salads, in quesadillas for a great protein along with cheese, veggies, and tortillas. I could add the chicken in at breakfast time as well into a potato and veggie hash. You could use this recipe as inspiration and sub in the cooked chicken for the sausage.
I love to think of all these different ways to use the leftover meat, because again, I don’t want it to go to waste!
Meal prep works great with this strategy!
This repurposing strategy is really great if you love to do a bulk prep over the weekend (or any day during the week). What can happen when we don’t have a plan is this: we get rushed and grab whatever is easiest, which may not be your bulk prepped leftovers.
Think about ways to use the food and make a list when you are prepping a larger amount of protein. Or if someone gives you a bunch of leftover turkey from a family gathering, come up with some ideas ahead of time. Keep a note in your phone or on your computer so that when an idea pops into your head, you have a place to store it and come back to it.
Try a new recipe that you enjoy? Add it to the list! It’s the exact same strategy I use to simplify meal planning.
We all forget what we enjoy to eat from time to time!
I hope that these protein repurposing tips have been helpful to you!
And if you want to try out a free meal plan using this strategy, grab it HERE!
PS – love to learn through video? Watch the video about this here!