As a mom with a lot of children, I am constantly trying to make our budget fit our needs. A few pennies here, or a couple dollars there and you can have one bill throw off your whole budgeting system.
Food is the #2 bill in this house, and here is how we….
- Feed 8 people for less than $800 per month.
- Build and maintain a pantry that will feed us in lean times, from our savings.
- Decrease our food waste, and still eat fresh veggies and fruit, daily.
- Eat completely gluten free, without losing our minds!
Saving our bacon….
This habit came about because my husband was in college, full time, during the weekdays, and I was working overnight on the weekends. Throw some homeschooling, weekly therapy for our exceptional needs children, and religious activities and you have a very full schedule. Oh, and I went to night school during 18 months of this time, had shoulder surgery and recovery, and had two babies. It was a wild ride, let me tell you!
Back to the food……
I call it a habit because we have tried to change the days we picked for our Leftover Days once, and it failed miserably because we were so used to the days we had done it on for three years. We chose Wednesdays, and Sundays because those were our busiest days, and they were almost perfectly even in spacing.
It ticked all the boxes for me. I could save money and time by using every last drop of what I was preparing, reduce my time in the kitchen, and actually not have to prepare or plan anything for two whole days a week! I tell everyone about our Leftover Days!
What do you mean by Leftover Days?
I know that people use leftovers in all sorts of ways. As lunches for their kids and themselves, as dinner when they are in a hurry, or even as a hail Mary pass on a rough day.
The one that we used to do when we first got married, and I grew up with, was eating leftovers when the refrigerator was so full that you had used every storage container, and you couldn’t remember when they had last been opened….then we got into the moldy containers and the mystery jars of unused condiments and it put people off of leftovers forever!
How do we do it?
We save our leftovers. All of them! Soups, meat loaf, 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or a slice of baked oatmeal. No matter how small, we save it ALL!
We realized that we could not just save them for one, or even two days many times, and have enough for our large family for a whole day or even a whole meal and we were counting on at least lunch and dinner to be covered. Three days worth of leftovers is just about perfect for our family, and they are first come, first served. We do not all get our favorites, but we all get fed.
We will save a few things from the Wednesday to Sunday time frame to carry us over the shorter span between Sunday and Wednesday of the following week.
What happens if you eat all the food you prepared for multiple meals in between Leftover Days?
We ran into this problem a lot in the beginning, especially as our family has grown about yearly since we started it. Now, to avoid that I automatically double, or triple every recipe. I make sure that the approximate serving size of the prepared food at each meal is 12 people instead of 8. This makes enough wiggle room for growing young boys, and a hungry husband after a day of chopping wood.
What if my family hates leftovers?
You are capable of setting the tone here for your entire household.
My husband loves variety. We rarely eat the same meal twice in one month, and I prepare almost every single one myself. That’s a lot of recipes, and a lot of leftovers, if we were not good stewards and use them up, that is a lot of waste.
So, in light of our desire to reduce our food waste and its affect on our bank account, he and we, have learned to either tolerate or love our leftovers anyway.
Sometimes, I combine multiple things and “recreate” them into something new. Sometimes, I can use them, plus a little can of something from the pantry and jazz it up.Sometimes, I put it in a corn tortilla for the kids, or on salad for my husband and myself.
Really, we have just learned to roll with it.
What about my kids with sensory processing disorder?
Momma, I got you!
We have a child on the spectrum, and my husband is too. Food was a big issue in our house for three years, when our oldest was at the height of his oral aversion. I kid you not, it took that long and meals were rough. But, we also lived without a microwave during that time, and I learned a valuable lesson from that.
My husband and oldest son, the ones with sensory problems, get to pick first, because I do not want to put them off of leftovers forever. Do they eat things they do not like, absolutely, but they know that it is the last time for a while.
Also, You can restore the mouth feel of almost any leftover by baking it at a higher temp for a short amount of time. Say, 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes to warm it up in the oven, and then wack it up to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, or even use the broiler for a minute or two. It worked for us, and still does!
So, Call this a large family Hack, or the ingenuity of a desperate work outside the home Mom, but it WORKS!
Thank you so much for stopping by!