Don’t Let Those Leftovers Go to Waste…Freeze Them!

Is your refrigerator like mine after Christmas each year? If so, it’s overflowing with dish after dish of delicious leftovers. However, if your family is like mine they are also tired of leftovers, even if they are delicious. The question is…what do you do with all those leftovers? I have asked myself this same question year after year. I usually resolve this problem by feeding the leftovers to our wonderful guard dog, Frosty, and of course the cats. I have also added them to the compost pile, but this year I decided to do something different with my leftovers.

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This is Frosty…our faithful friend that guards chickens, cats, and our garden.

As I was shopping for groceries this week I reached for one of my favorite foods, southwestern grilled chicken strips. To my surprise there wasn’t one bag left in the cooler. I thought about how I would miss this tasty addition to my salads, breakfast, and even as a side dish. I stood there staring at the cooler as if I could magically will a bag or two of my favorite salad fixing to appear in the cooler. Instead of the bag of chicken appearing I had a vision of adding the left over smoked turkey that still resided in my refrigerator to my salads. It was already pulled from the bone and stored in an air tight container. Smiling to myself I left the store with a plan, and a full cart of items to fill my pantry for a couple of months of clean eating. But, that’s a post for a later date.

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Vacuumed sealed individual servings of turkey.

After researching how to freeze cooked meats, I decided that I would freeze my leftovers. The next day with my plan, the vacuum sealer and a large bowl of turkey I moved forward with my plan. I was excited as the smoked turkey would be a tasty and healthy alternative to the southwestern chicken strips. It would be delicious warmed up in salads, as a side, or on wraps. Why had I not thought of this before? Soon I had the turkey vacuum sealed, dated, and in the freezer. I was on a roll and wanted to add additional healthy choices to my freezer. I wondered about freezing other leftovers.

I decided after reading further about freezing foods that I would vacuum seal individual portions of the dressing, and slices of a pumpkin roll that my niece brought as a dessert for Christmas dinner. These would be great sides when our granddaughter, who loves both dressing and pumpkins roll, came to visit. These would also be great sides for my husband as well, and I admit, for myself when I have a cheat day.

Freezing foods is a quick and easy process. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer you can still freeze your leftovers. Below are directions for freezing turkey, pumpkin roll, and dressing.

Freezing Turkey:

Remove turkey from bone
Separate turkey into serving sizes
Vacuum seal or wrap in plastic wrap and place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent maker

Freezing Pumpkin Roll:

Slice the pumpkin roll
Place individual pieces on parchment paper in freezer for fifteen minutes
Either vacuum seal or wrap in plastic wrap in place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent marker

Freezing Dressing:

Cut into serving sizes
Place in freezer on parchment paper for fifteen minutes
Wrap in plastic wrap and place in zip lock freezer bag
Date bag with a permanent marker

I’m excited about being able to enjoy smoked turkey, dressing, a baked sweet potato, and a delicious slice of pumpkin roll any day of the year! The smoked turkey will also be great to make turkey wraps for lunch on the go, and a tasty addition to salads.  I love seeing the full section of leftovers in my freezer and the feeling of satisfaction of having little to no waste with Christmas leftovers, while also stocking my freezer with delicious food.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to freeze all of your tasty holiday leftovers. You don’t have to wait for holidays to try this idea…you can begin freezing leftovers any day of the week! It’s also a great way to plan ahead and meal prep for those busy weeks that we all have. Feel free to leave your feedback. I enjoy hearing from each of you. Be sure to check back next week for my New Year’s post where I will share ten inspiring achievable goals to improve your New Year and your life! Wishing you and your family a very happy and blessed New Year!

How I Saved 106.86 My Last Shopping Trip Using Apps and Coupons!

Okay, so when I embarked on this clean eating journey my food intake changed dramatically, as did my grocery bill. Many of the foods that became a staple in my pantry were on my husband’s list of favorite foods to eat. I found myself buying groceries for two different menus. To decrease the expenses we decided it was time to increases the produce in our garden. We both enjoyed the majority of the vegetables. I saved a bundle on zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and cantaloupe alone! As much as this helped our budget, encouraged me to eat healthy, and also provided vegetables for our family, there were some things on my grocery list that we couldn’t grow!

I had a desire and a need to reduce my grocery bill. I was determined to find ways to trim back, and cut corners. So, I decided that coupons would be my first choice. I’ve always enjoyed saving a little money here and there with coupons, but most of my coupon experience was limited to accidentally stumbling onto a coupon in the insert from the Sunday paper, or a magazine. I needed to get into some serious couponing. No, not extreme, but serious. I read as much as I could online about shopping with coupons, bought a few e-books, and watched the amazing show about extreme couponing. It all seemed complicated, but remember, I was determined to save money!

Before long, I figured out a system that worked for me. It wasn’t complicated, and it didn’t involve a lot of time, but I was saving money! I clipped coupons, scoured the sale papers, loaded online coupons to my Kroger card, printed free coupons, bought from coupon clipping services, and watched sale weekly sale papers. I also loaded a few apps to my phone that added to my savings. These apps worked with stores such as, Aldi’s, The Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and The Dollar General. I frequently use Checkout 51, Ibotta, Wal-Mart Savings Catcher, and my Plenti card. The savings from these apps can really add up quick!

I love a day of savings! 106.86 total savings

I love a day of savings! 106.86 total savings

Over the past three years I have learned a lot about clean eating, using coupons, finding the best sales, and using them to stock my pantry. Today was a great day of savings. The day began at Wal-Mart when I purchased a 16.5 Purina Small Bites dog food for just 1.00. This was made possible through the use of a 4.00 coupon that I clipped from the insert in the Sunday paper and a 7.00 check from Purina. My husband saves circles from bags of Purina dog food that we mail to the Purina company in exchange for checks that are redeemable for more dog food. That’s instant money! Using the combination of the coupon and the Purina check I bought a 16.5 bag of dog food for just 1.00! A total savings of 11.00.  I purchased ten more of the 4.00 coupons from Klip 2 Save, which is my favorite coupon clipping service. Each coupon costs a couple of cents, but still reap a huge savings! My plans are to fill our dog food bin for the winter for only a few dollars! I left Wal-Mart and headed to Kroger for even more savings.

Checking my list, I carefully scoured the Kroger shelves, selecting items that were on sale, close out items, as well as items from the reduced price bin. The deals were fantastic! I found usable and worthy items in the close out and reduced items bin that I had coupons for! I was pumped! I made my way to the checkout line with a cart running over with super deals! I had set a dollar amount that I didn’t want to exceed! As the total quickly began to climb, I was a bit nervous about the cost before my Kroger card was swiped…it exceeded my goal. But, after swiping my card, and handing my stack of coupons…my total sale was far below my budget! My total savings for a huge haul of groceries was 59.76. I was pumped!

Now, on to the gas pumps for even more savings, just another reason that I love shopping at Kroger! When the computer at the pump ask if I wanted to use my full .20 of savings, I selected yes with a grin on my face! I would get my gas for 1.78. I hadn’t paid this little for a gasoline in quite some time! A total savings of 3.80.

I love saving at Kroger!

I love saving at Kroger!

The next stop on my route would be Rite Aid. I was on a mission to find hair color at the lowest price possible. I had a couple of 3.00 coupons and a few buy one get one free coupons, that meant I could get two boxes of color for 2.00. I picked up six boxes of hair color and strolled up to the check out counter. The price rang up and I swiped my Plenti card. I noticed my accumulated points and decided to use them. I was thrilled to discover that the six boxes of hair color that I planned to pay two dollars for…was totally free! This freed up my coupons as well for future purchases. I left Rite Aid with six boxes of hair color that I purchased for 0.00!  A savings of 28.00, and enough hair coloring to last for a year!

My final stop would be The Dollar Tree. Again, I went on a mission! I was going in to purchase Gain fabric sheets and Hall’s cough drops! Again, I presented paper coupons for the Gain fabric sheets. I paid 1.50 for the fabric sheets, instead of 3.00. As soon as I got in the jeep I quickly used the Check Out 51 app to scan the receipt receiving a 1.00 for one of the bags of cough drops! Total savings 2.50 on a 5.00 purchase!

Save with Check Out 51

Save with Check Out 51

Once I arrived at home, I was excited to share the huge amount of savings with my husband! As we put away the huge load of groceries, I scanned the bar codes for savings on items that were offered on Ibotta. With a full pantry of groceries that satisfied the needs of clean eating, healthy eating, grandchildren’s cravings, and my husbands midnight snacks, I sat down to scan the lengthy Kroger receipt for Ibotta. Cha-ching…1.80 was added to my Ibotta account!

Save more with Ibotta

Save more with Ibotta

It was a great day of shopping and a great day of savings…not to mention a full fridge, full pantry, full tank of gas, and enough hair color to last for a year! But, the best part of all…my total savings for the day was 106.86! Be sure to check out my post The Journey Begins to find out more about my journey to a healthier life style.