Frugal Living 

Leftover Calendar: Reduce Food Spoilage

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Leftover CalendarMy wife and I have been trying to cook more often as a way to combat rising everything prices to the tune of three dinners a week (Friday is happy hour, duuuh). One unfortunate side effect of this is that we’ve been throwing out our leftovers as we discover them pushed into the back of our refrigerator. Boooo! 🙁

The solution is to use a leftover calendar. For us, we took advantage of a calendar we already have in the kitchen and turned it into our leftover calendar. We just found ourselves Sharpie and stuck it on top of a calendar hanging on the wall. As we made meals, we’d write what we made in the box for that day. As we ate the leftovers, we’d cross it off the list. With one glance, you can see what we have left as well as the priority they should be eaten in (if you really are in the mood for anything). It acts like an inventory, so we know what we have in our fridge, when we made it and roughly how long we have left until it’ll go bad.

We only started using the calendar since the beginning of the month and I’m happy to report that the only thing we’ve thrown out is a small container of homemade chicken broth. I estimate that it’s been in there for about a month, so I claim that it’s a casualty of the pre-leftover calendar system. 🙂

We don’t confine this list strictly to leftover we made ourselves, or leftovers themselves. Last night we visited our favorite Pho place and my wife brought back some leftovers, those made it on the calendar. When she eats them, they’ll get crossed off rather than tossed out because we forgot the small white box behind the milk.

Lastly, we also plan on marking raw foods we buy, like chicken or beef, so that we are aware of the limited amount time we have. We rarely throw out raw foods, maybe once every six month, because we don’t buy them unless we plan on using them.

As they say, “Out of sight, out of mind” and we hope this leftover calendar prevents that (so far so good!).

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Leftover Calendar: Reduce Food Spoilage”

  1. Madame X says:

    Good idea– I may have to try this as I always feel like I waste too much food!

  2. tom says:

    That’s a great idea… My wife and I (mostly her) cook 5-6 nights a week (Friday is happy hour 🙂 ) and use the leftovers for lunches during the week.

    I do have one question… how much have your weekly or monthly grocery bills been? We’ve been following all the advice about keeping grocery bills down… buy store brand, buy in bulk, make a list and stick to it, etc…. but we still are spending $100 a week on groceries. $500 a month seems very high even though it’s lunch and dinner everyday for 2 people.

  3. Sheila says:

    That is a good idea.

    We’ve been trying to cut back to eating out just once a week, but we cheat every now and then. It’s working out fine and we don’t feel deprived for doing it. In fact, it feels a little more empowering that we are more in control of our food budget, health and waistline. 🙂

  4. jim says:

    Tom: Your grocery bills will go up but your eating out bills should go down. I used to go out for lunch frequently, like 3-4 times a week; now it’s down to 1-2. It’s definitely been a savings.

    $500/mo for two isn’t bad at all, that’s $8 per person per day. You could always try eating less meat, that’s always been the pricier part of our grocery bill.

    Sheila: Yeah, we try to eat out less than before but I find that it’s easiest to do that for lunch. During dinner we feel tired, so we don’t want to cook. 🙂

  5. Nicki says:

    Great idea!! I will have to do something similar — once I start cooking more, that is. 🙂

  6. Trisha says:

    What a great idea! We are really guilty of completely forgetting not only leftovers, but produce we’ve purchased! And, as you know, produce ain’t cheap these days.

  7. Ceo Reom says:

    I’m glad you like Vietnamese food! 😀

  8. Tameika says:

    Thanks for this excellent tip! Because I commute nearly 3 hours a day and my husband works 12 hour night shifts, we end up doing most our cooking in bulk on the weekend and eating leftovers throughout the week. This calendar will be extremely useful. Wish I had read this more closely sooner – it would have prevented my Chicken Parmesan from spoiling in the fridge!

  9. Amy says:

    Great idea. We do something similar. When we have leftovers, I immediately label and freeze them. Then, when we have a busy week, we just pull something of the freezer and thaw in the fridge. I try to keep a leftover list on the side of the fridge but sometimes it’s not updated.

  10. kazari says:

    I’m with Amy. I usually cook big dinners, and freeze all the leftovers in single-serve containers. These become lunches to take to work.
    Combined with menuplanning (deciding what to make each week, and only buying the ingredients I need) – we hardly ever throw out food.

  11. Leah says:

    This is a GREAT idea I’m going to try right away.
    My family has also cut down to 1 or 2 meals out per week–cutting down on gas costs AND grocery costs.

    I TOO am very tired in the evening and have been grilling meat (chicken, pork, beef) in bulk to make quick meals during the week.

    For example, we’ll buy reduced for quick sale steak (1/2 price), grill ALL of it that evening, then use what is left for fajitas or burritos during the week. If we grill hamburgers, two days later we have chili or spaghetti.

  12. Barb J. says:

    We frequently throw away leftovers, but this sounds like it might work! Nobody has to hold the fridget door open while they see what’a available either, they can just look on the calendar. Save a little energy while your’re at it!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excellent idea, i have a big calendar in the kitchen so i will do the same thing, starting tomorrow. Thanks!

  14. Chris says:

    So simple yet truly solves a large problem.
    Thank you.

  15. Scott says:

    Great idea. We have taken a door in our kitchen and used Ben Moore blackboard paint (we found it works best) to make a kitchen chalkboard.

    We use it for weekly meal planning, upcoming schedules, kids stuff that needs to be monitored, specialty notes (Remember to hang the wet laundry)…

    It’s been great for us. With our schedules, we are like two ships passing in the night & occassionally meet in the kitchen. It helps us review some critical points regarding the business of running a household.

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