Learning to eat like a grown up

Hi, my name is Deanna and I waste food.  I rarely eat leftovers.  I often buy fresh ingredients with a certain dish in mind, then let them all spoil before I actually get the meal cooked.  I purchase food, and it sits in the pantry, unused, until it is eventually thrown out.

Terrible, I know.  It was a couple of years ago that I first realized how much food we waste as a family, and since then I have tried to be more resourceful in our meals and shopping.  The small changes have helped, but we still have a long way to go.

I have learned to buy mostly our staple foods at the grocery store each week, things I am pretty sure will be eaten.  If I need specific ingredients for a dish, I try to think of other ways to use the remainder of that ingredient.  If I buy for a specific meal and our plans change, I try hard to squeeze that meal in another night.

I am still not good with leftovers, but I am learning which foods I do like reheated, and I am making those foods more often.  I have learned to decline a to-go box at a restaurant, unless I feel sure it will be eaten.  (This doesn't really help the wastefulness, but hey--it saves the use of a styrofoam plate and doesn't take up valuable space in my refrigerator.)

I have also started a kind of meal rotation, especially for weeknights when Jeremy is not home to help with the crazy dinner and bath rush.  It's not written down (yet!) or very specific, but I have a few standard meals that the girls and I both enjoy and that are easy to prepare.

One of our weekly standards is a Mexican night, when I pick up fresh chips, salsa, and queso from a Mexican restaurant on the way home.  Addison & Mackenzie LOVE "chips and cheese", and could easily make a meal out of that alone (healthy, right?).  For these nights, I usually have mexican chicken waiting in the crockpot, which we use to fill tortillas to go with our chips.

As a bonus, there is plenty of the chicken left for me to eat all week.  I have been making nachos for my lunch at least 2-3 days a week lately, and it really helps me feel a lot less wasteful to finish off that entire bowl of chicken!

What are your favorite weeknight meals?  Do you have any tips for becoming less wasteful?  Am I alone in my disdain for leftovers?

By the way, here is my mexican chicken recipe, which is super convenient for tacos, burritos, nachos, etc....

Combine the following in the crockpot:
2-3 Boneless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 package dry taco seasoning

Cook 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high, then shred the chicken and add a can of black beans (drained).  Heat another 30 minutes or so, and it's ready.

Mexican chicken


  1. I am the same way! I do not like leftovers AT ALL, there's something about having just eaten it recently that makes me all "no, thanks."
    Maybe it's just me, but produce spoils WAY too quickly. Sometimes I just have "one of those" weeks and we eat out more than I planned. Such an uphill battle.

    One of our favorites are these calzone rolls. They are pretty easy to make (as long as I can remember to thaw the dough from freezer) and they taste even better the next day, so it's motivation to eat the leftovers:

  2. OMW, we wouldn't eat if we didn't eat leftovers :)

    I like to think of it as cooking double. I never make us eat that second meal in the same week but I hold it over for 1 - 2 weeks.

    EG chicken a la King, bolognaise sauce, etc.

    If I'm really inspired I'll cook even more.

    Saves sooo much time and money to cook double!

    Then on the night, I just cook the rice and veggies.

    If I can see that produce (veggies) will spoil, I toss it into the freezer and use for soup. I puree it all up after cooking anyway so it doesn't matter that it wasn't fresh.

    Does this help? COuld you see yourself doing it?

  3. It is very hard some weeks. We have a couple of nights of leftovers b/c when I tutor, Husband doesn't want to cook.

    I have a meal schedule that we fill out at the beginning of the week. We get our CSA on Thursday and we grocery shop on Fridays, so we know what we already have in the house.

    Staples include tacos, grilled chicken, beef stew, italian chicken/pasta, garlic shrimp, and one night out.

  4. i actually LOVE leftovers. or, rather, not having to cook again. we've been making lots of things in the crock pot, then we immediately freeze half and have two meals out of the the rest. that way in a few weeks we can easily pull it out of the freezer.

    staples for us are taco salad/tacos, some kind of pasta dish, spinach and mushroom enchiladas, hamburger soup, breakfast, soups/stews. now that the weather is warmer i have no idea what we'll eat :) tonight we had taco salad.

    this past year i also got good about chopping/prepping produce immediately. that way it's easier to use to cook...and if you can't use it you can freeze it that way and pull it out later :)

  5. Oh wow! I could have written this post myself! My biggest flaw is buying meat with no meal in mind, looking at it every day, waiting until the last minute before the "freeze by" date arrives... and then I forget to freeze it! Ugh! LOL!


Thanks for commenting! I love to respond by email, so make sure yours is connected with your profile. : )