Stop Cooking! How to Use Up What's in the Fridge and Save Waste and Time!

Way back when… I purposely bought disposable plastic containers to store leftovers because I wanted the option of just throwing it away if it got stuffed in the back and turned into a science experiment.
But that was before I was a minimalist and an environmentalist.
So, yes, now I have a limited number of storage containers and I don’t want to be tossing plastic into our landfill every month.
I also don’t want to spend an hour at every meal and snack time cooking for my big family. Here are some ways to cut time spent and use the leftovers (and no one will know they are leftovers!)
Leftover Veggies and meat:
Ok, I know no one really likes eating reheated cooked broccoli. There is no point it even putting it on the plate and have the kids push it around.

Add the bits of veggies and meat to a
pot of cooked rice with some garlic
and you have an easy stir-fry dish.

So, keep a container in the fridge and after each meal, add the extra cooked veggies to the container. By the end of the week all you have to do heat some stock, add any leftover meat and the container of veggies- instant soup!
Add the bits of veggies and meat to a pot of cooked rice with some garlic and you have an easy stir-fry dish.
Leftover Breakfast Foods:
Pancakes. We love our pancakes! I purposely make a double batch of pancakes just to have leftovers!
Pop a couple pancakes in the toaster for a quick breakfast the next couple days or as sandwich bread and personal pizza crusts.
With the crepes you can make sandwich wraps or thin crust pizzas. My secret indulgence is a crepe with Nutella rolled up. And yes, I hide in a corner of the kitchen with my cup of coffee and a Nutella crepe and try not to let the kids see me eating chocolate!

Coffee cake and peanutbutter cookies are an easy grab and go breakfast or snack. Make as much as you have pans for and have the family eat off it over the next week.
When you serve fruit pie or custard for dessert, serve it for breakfast the following morning.
Leftover Dinner Foods:
Invest in some good quality thermoses to send with whoever needs to take a lunch. Just reheat the dinner and pour in into the thermos hot. Be sure to get one with good ratings- the cheaper ones leak and the food is cold by the time lunch comes around. Food tastes so much better if it’s heated on the stove, rather than reheated in the microwave.
We have 2 people in our family that enjoy eating their leftovers cold, so I don’t have to worry about heating theirs at all. Just put lunch portions in the fridge ready to go!
Prep as much as possible:
When you are making a dish with ground beef, brown several pounds at a time and store the extras it in the freezer. It’s easy to cut some summer squash, cook it till soft and toss in the cooked beef. See Patty Pan in a Pot.
Wash and cut the snack veggies when you bring them home.

Set out prepped celery sticks and let the
kids spread on their own
peanut butter and raisins. 

And don’t be afraid to get the kids involved! They can peel cucumbers and scrub carrots. If they are older, they can cut them up for you too and you can have a quick snack or side to dinner by just opening the fridge.
If the snack veggies are prepped they will get used rather than sitting in the crisper drawer waiting for you to have a leisurely afternoon in which you want to prepare a healthy snack.
For simple recipes check out my 5 Ingredient Recipe Index

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Jonathan H on 09/14/2012 at 6:24 pm

    I find that leftovers mix well with eggs for weekend breakfasts, or for ‘breakfast for dinner’. I particularly add lots of rice and make a thick yellow ‘pancake’ with more body than eggs. Potatoes, veggies, and meat all work well when cut up in small pieces. You can choose to scramble them or do a omelette type; I have found that dropping them on top of a sunny side up egg isn’t so good.

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