By now, everyone interested in frugality knows that home-cooking from scratch is a foundation of the frugal lifestyle.
Sure, it takes time to cook, and we’re all busy-busy-busy. You CAN find the time: Planning ahead can make all the difference in the world. If you can sacrifice a block of time (an hour or two) here and there, you will reap the rewards later.
I have a system I call “Intentional Leftovers”.
Generally, at most I’m cooking for three people… but usually just for myself. But even if I’m only cooking for one, I will still make a large batch of whatever I’m making. The leftovers go in the freezer, and can be reheated in the microwave for quick meals in the future.
Leftovers in the fridge are fine, too, but be realistic about it. There’s nothing more wasteful than perfectly good leftovers going bad in the fridge. As long as you’re going to eat them within a few days, keep leftovers in the fridge. That’s my personal Window of Leftover Opportunity, but then I’m especially squeamish about things like that. Otherwise, pack it up and freeze it!
I recently made a huge pan of baked ziti, a dish my mom always called “lazy lasagna”.
The leftovers get packed up in zip-lock freezer bags.
I put a generous single-serving in each bag, and pack them flat, making sure to get all the excess air out of the bags. I label each one with the date for future reference.
You might be tempted to just dump the leftovers into plastic containers, but I think the single-serve freezer bags work better. Not only do they pack flat for easy stacking in the freezer, the smaller quantities will also reheat faster than an entire container. You’ll be grateful for that when you’re exhausted and starving after a long day at work.
That Stouffers meal isn’t mine (LOL), but my leftover baked ziti meals are just as quick and convenient.