Live Green and Earn Points


Reuse Your Food: A Week’s Meal Plan Makes the Most of Leftovers

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Get savvy with double-duty ingredients and leftovers with this meal plan that is sure to leave nothing to waste at the end of the week.

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: You open your fridge to figure out what to make for dinner, and while the shelves are full of miscellaneous bottles, leftovers and mysterious containers, there’s still nothing to eat! This common conundrum has a far-reaching impact: All of the miscellaneous foods that don’t get eaten go to waste, rot and produce methane, and in turn, pollute the air.

You can help solve both problems with a little creativity and planning before your weekly shopping trip. Planning your meals (and shopping list) in advance will ensure that you have delicious dinners every night, that the ingredients you buy will serve double-duty by appearing in multiple recipes, and that the leftovers can be transformed into totally new meals later in the week — no more boring leftovers!

Take a look at this week-long meal plan, complete with ideas for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, check the shopping list against what you already have at home, and head to the store. Then enjoy a week of not stressing out when you hear that inevitable question, “What’s for dinner?”

Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Lunch: Hard Boiled Egg, Crudité, Crackers
Dinner (Main): Grilled Salmon (grill 2 pounds; use 1 pound and save leftovers)
Dinner (Sides): Sautéed Spinach; Brown Rice

Breakfast: Poached or Fried Eggs on English Muffins
Lunch: Cheese and Deli Turkey Sandwich
Dinner (Main): Roast Chicken (roast 2; use 1 and save leftovers)
Dinner (Sides): Steamed Broccoli; Roasted Potatoes Tossed with Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion seasoning)

Breakfast: Yogurt and Fresh Fruit
Lunch: Beanie Weenies (baked beans heated with sliced turkey dogs)
Dinner (Main): Salmon Croquettes (Mix 1 pound leftover cooked salmon with 2–3 TBSP Hellmanns mayonnaise, 1 TSP Dijon mustard, 1 beaten egg, ½ C breadcrumbs, and 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice. Form into patties, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Coat in breadcrumbs and sauté in oil over medium for about 8 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through.)
Dinner (Sides): Spinach Salad; Knorr Pasta Sides

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken Salad Wrap (Make your own chicken salad with the leftover roast chicken, and mayo.)
Dinner (Main): Hearty Chipotle Chili
Dinner (Sides): Yogurt Cornbread Muffins

Breakfast: Yogurt Cornbread Muffins and Fresh Fruit
Lunch: Sloppy Joe (Sandwich leftover chili between two slices of bread.)
Dinner (Main): Stir-fried Vegetables and Chicken (Use a frozen stir-fry medley and broccoli, stir in chopped leftover roast chicken at the end, and season with soy sauce.)
Dinner (Sides): Brown Rice

Brunch: Scrambled Egg, Bacon, and English Muffin Sandwiches
Dinner (Main): Spaghetti Western (Top cooked spaghetti with leftover chili.)
Dinner (Sides): Garlic Bread (Spread butter on toast, sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning and grated parmesan cheese.)

Brunch: Cornmeal Yogurt Pancakes with Butter and Maple Syrup, and Bacon
Dinner (Main): Burgers (Mix ground beef with Lipton Beefy Onion Seasoning Mix for extra flavor.)
Dinner (Sides): Baked Beans; Seasoned Oven Fries (Toss sliced potatoes with Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic seasoning mix.)

This is only one of an infinite way to plan a week’s worth of meals, so substitute and skip suggestions to your tastes! For the meals above, download the shopping list and your grocery run will be easier than ever!

What’s your favorite way to use up leftovers? Share your tips in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • tommy b. 3 years ago
  • Meg P. 3 years ago
    Freezing leftovers is a great option! I have learned to ALWAYS label the container lids. I use some left over name tags and each time I reuse the lid I cross off the last item and add the new one. Uses the labels which otherwise are going to waste, uses them multiple times, and they may or may not come off in the dishwashing process. Leftovers this way really can be rotated so no one gets tired of any one item. It also means I can purposefully make large batches of items that can be pulled out when I don't have time to cook a new meal. Of course, salad is not one of the things I put in the freezer! :-)
  • sandy h. 4 years ago
    never thought of that
  • Kathy F. 4 years ago
    I use leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Frank C. 4 years ago
    We rarely throw anything out. We either eat the leftovers as is, make sandwiches with them, make soups, add them to salads, or add other ingredients, and make something entirely different.
    Once I heard about chefs who were asked what they would ask for if they knew it would be their last meal. Most did not choose the foods they were famous for, but instead the homey foods that they grew up with. I thought about this and decided that I would choose leftovers for my last meal. I always enjoy the possibilities they present.
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