In the short time we've been married, Graham and I have learned quite a bit about planning a menu and using our leftovers. Initially, we weren't very good about it. I would plan a menu, and we'd be good about sticking to it, but we always had leftovers and we were horrible about using them. Granted, we've probably thrown away a few extra meals that hadn't quite gone bad, but we only save things for a week before we throw them out so we avoid things getting rotten or going bad in the fridge.
I've also gotten better about writing down what we ate on a calendar and keeping track of our meals so we don't repeat too often. If we have one meal one time too often, when we have leftovers, we won't want to finish off the leftovers.
I have to admit that I love going through my cookbooks and planning a menu for the week. I like reading recipes and deciding what pairings work best with our schedule. I also like grocery shopping. Nothing makes me feel better than wandering through the market and picking out food for our meals. My favorite is picking produce. I love deciding which tomatoes will become part of my dinner. :-) It makes me feel more like a 'foodie'.
For using up our leftovers, I always try to plan a leftovers night during the week. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen because, well, life gets in the way and sometimes we lose track of time. If we had a house and not an apartment, we'd probably start using some of the leftovers as compost for our garden.
I usually take leftovers to school with me for lunch. Even if I'm not wild about the meal, I'd rather use the leftovers than let them go to waste. I'd love to give them to family, but I don't know how crazy they'd be about having our leftover food! I wouldn't mind passing them onto our neighbors if we were closer with them, but we're still newbies in the building and don't know everyone.
I'm also getting better about using out leftover 'pieces' of food. I've started making breadcrumbs from our leftover slices of bread. Neither of us like the ends of a loaf of bread, so I've started toasting them and then chopping them up with our Magic Bullet (which we rarely use...::blush::). It's a good way for us to save a little money here and there.
I'm always on the lookout for money and food saving tips and tricks. If you have any, feel free to post and share!
I'm offf to make myself a cup of hot cocoa. I only use Swiss Miss because I haven't yet found a homemade hot cocoa recipe I enjoy. They all seem too watery or never seem to have enough flavor to them. I'm an incredibly picky cocoa drinker. [;)]