My husband and I rarely go out to eat. This is one part toddler syndrome (wherein parents of toddlers become boring), one part cheapskate syndrome (wherein you don't pay for stuff, full stop), and one part enjoyment of cooking.
Many who blog about frugality espouse the virtues of cooking at home, but let me tell you cooking is only a frugal hobby on one condition... you have to eat the leftovers (or not produce them in the first place).
Eat crap you don't want to...(I mean Pantry Challenge)
Does anyone think leftovers are as uninspiring as I do? Re heated food is just the worst. We don't even have a microwave (until we re-do the kitchen there's no space), so it's not like I'm getting to save some time on the clean up end either.
I can choke down leftovers with the best of them (even putting old salad into grilled cheese sandwiches which isn't half bad), but I actively avoid leftovers after meals. You can find me scraping the last bit of the skillet onto my husband's plate each night. ("Honey, you bike so much, you should consume more calories.").
Well, that's not totally true. I actually plan for two nights of "leftovers" each week, but this is where I make completely new meals out of leftover components, which barely counts as leftovers at all. The leftovers that get reformed into wonderful new culinary creations that land in my belly. I've even served these leftovers to guests, so these "leftovers" are excluded from my disdain.
Typically my disdain for leftovers is not a big deal, but this week it is. Because I have so much leftover food (prepared), and we have to eat it, or it will go bad. That, and I've already spent the majority of the grocery money for the month. I conservatively guess that we have 8 meals worth of leftovers in the fridge right now.
So, I'm kind of on a pantry challenge. I learned about this from a favorite blog (one I uncovered back in my food blogging days) called Good Cheap Eats. Jessica, the author of the blog, has got to be about the world's most upbeat person about eating leftovers, and I'm trying to follow her lead.
I'm buying about 6 ingredients that will make these leftovers more tolerable (and a pack of hot dogs for my son, and a pack of Splenda because my husband doesn't like sugar in his oatmeal), and I'm doing my best to give new life to old meals. But one of my coworkers just told me about her barbecue plans for the weekend, and I remembered that I will be eating leftovers.
I'm having a bit of an existential crisis. Is it worth the money and the environmental impact and the pride in not wasting food to put myself through this torture? What about my family? I have a young son to feed (okay, he doesn't care, and neither does my husband).
Do I just need to adjust my attitude? I guess leftovers aren't so bad. It's just bad when it's night after night after night. Leftovers. All Week Long.
So, have I inspired you to join my pantry challenge? You'll probably save close to $70. On top of that the menu isn't half bad (see the list on the right), except where I just gave up and admitted that everything we're eating is leftovers.
Let this be a cautionary tale to you. If you are both frugal and enjoy cooking, you better be a good planner to. Otherwise, you to could be eating leftovers for a week.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.