Extend Sunday dinner into weekday meals

Special thanks to Alise Wakeland, a quality assurance specialist for MMI, for providing this guest post.

Do you ever cook too much on Sunday then wonder what to do with all the leftovers? Or do you go over to your in-laws for dinner and end up bringing home food? Well, I am here to help!

Growing up, my mother always cooked the big meals on the weekends so we could eat the leftovers through out the week, and boy did we get creative. From BBQ chicken wraps, to pasta ala leftover turkey and some parmesan, we had to use what was already in the refrigerator or pantry to spice up the week's meals.

If you are already a menu planner, this should be easy– all that’s needed is a little extra planning and creativity. If you are not a menu planner, try making a list of what you have already stocked in your pantry and place it on the refrigerator, for ease of mind when it comes to cooking dinner from leftovers. When you run out of an item, simply cross it off the list.

Spring in my house means one thing, if it ain’t raining, daddy is barbecuing, and this also means my mother buys about 10 pounds of chicken and 10 pounds of hamburger and 10 pounds of pork chops. Whatever was the best deal at the store is what gets grilled.  Some of the leftovers get repackaged and put in the freezer, so that they can be used at a later date. All the rest of it is used during the week.

The chicken meat is usually the easiest to reuse. For Monday lunch, take one chicken leg, after it has been cooled, pull the meat off and put into a plastic bag.  Add some shredded cheese if you have it, or any type of cheese you have on hand, one slice of sandwich cut cheese is good. If you have any fresh vegetables on hand such as carrots, broccoli, or radishes, cut them into small pieces and put them into your plastic bag as well. Close your plastic bag, and put it in your lunch along with a potato, that if you can bake at home or at work. If you don’t have fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables will work just as well.

Extra vegetables can be used for dinner Tuesday night. The simplest dinner would be to cook the vegetables, reheat the chicken, and add a starch like brown rice, biscuits, or a side of whole wheat rotini pasta, with a little added olive oil. This of course depends on what kind of vegetables you have  Most mixes are perfect for this, but if you have a mix that is better for stir-fry, then it's as simple as pulling enough meat off the chicken and tossing the chicken, vegetables, and your favorite Asian sauce (soy sauce, teriyaki, sesame oil) together in a wok until everything is heated through.

Remember, it's about being creative and using what is on hand.  The best family dinner recipes come about by utilizing your pantry, freezer, and resourcefulness.  

For more ideas on stretching your food dollars, download the free Cheap Eats eBook.

Alise Wakeland graduated from Angelo State University in 2008 and started working at Money Management International in May 2009.  Alise chooses to help clients and co-workers was by sharing her personal experiences to motivate. She feels that if you know someone else had the same struggle and overcame it by making a few simple changes then that will empower you to do the same. Alise enjoys cooking, reading, and music.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.