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Throwing out leftovers? Stop! Frugal Queen shares her tips

Could you be doing more to shave money off your food spend? Making sure you're savvy with your shopping and eating habits can help you make the most of your money.

Here, the blogger Frugal Queen, author of the Frugal Queen blog, which helps you eat well for less, shows you how to avoid food waste and keep your costs down. 

Making the most of the food you have

My freezer

I really make the most of my freezer and buy a lot of frozen products such as mixed veg, bags of singular veggies, frozen fruit and individually frozen fish fillets so I can use part of a bag -  or most of a bag - and still pop it back in the freezer to use another time.

My store cupboard

I keep plenty of pasta; flour; UHT milk; instant custard; rice; noodles; cooking oil; tinned goods and dried goods in stock. That way, I have a go to source of ideas that I can use and rarely buy those items more than three times a year.

My menu plan

I have a menu plan that will have five main meals, five main lunches and five main breakfasts for our working week. I then leave space to have two meals on consecutive days. It may sound odd, but I cook enough for us to take for lunch and to reheat when we get there.

My portion control

If I can’t eat more than one raw carrot in one sitting then I won’t need any more than one if it’s peeled, slice and cooked. You get the picture, I try to cook no more than we need.
 


Using leftovers

However, I’m no saint and every now and then I will miscount or we’ll just not be as hungry as we thought we were. Here are some ideas for if I genuinely do have some left overs to use later.

Roast chicken

Wait for it to go cold and strip all the meat off the bone by pulling it off with your finger, combine with any leftover veggies and roasties and add a jar of value curry sauce and bring to the boil and then simmer for ten minutes and serve with rice.

Another way to use up the chicken is to combine it with a tin of carrot, a tin of sweetcorn and some cheese sauce (something you can keep in stock as a sachet and just add boiling water) and serve with mash and greens or use as a pie filling.

Cooked vegetables

Add to grated cheese and a beaten egg and place into an lightly oiled mug and microwave for one minute to make an instant veggie frittata.

Gravy

Place a freezer bag in a jug of cup, pour the gravy in and freeze. Use with sausages and mash on another night.

Fresh fruit

Peel, slice and freeze on a tray. When frozen solid pop into freezer bags. Use in smoothies, just chuck into a blender with some milk or juice and whiz up for an instant breakfast. If you do this whilst the fruit is still frozen you’ll have a fruity slushy.

Pastry

When I make a pie or pasties, I always seem to have a little pastry spare.  I keep a pastry pot in the freezer, lift the lid and add some more. When it’s full, I know I have enough for a tray of jam tarts for the children or enough to make another pie.

Bread crusts

I keep one bread bag in the freezer and every time we’ve got to the end of the loaf, I add another bread crust. I defrost a few at a time and make bread crumbs by whizzing them up in the food processor. I use these on top of a pasta bake with some herbs or grated cheese to add a crunch to the meal.

Dairy products

I look out for reduced price cream and I freeze it. Sometimes I only need to add a small amount to a recipes, so I freeze some cream in ice cube bags and then just pop open one to two ‘cubes’. Then I don’t have to open a pot especially for one soup recipe.

Do you have tips to avoid food wastage to go with Frugal Queen's?

This guest post is from Frugal Queen and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Frugal Queen and what they do on their website.

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  • Simon Lacey / 17 January

    There may well be loads of advice out there on reducing waste food, but obviously ignored, hence the growing figures on food waste.
    The saving is on both the food cost and the packaging and environmental impacts.

  • Simon Lacey / 17 January

    Left over wine, that last bit in the bottle, can be frozen in ice cube trays, then just pop a cube or two into your meal next time to add extra flavour

  • Francis / 9 February 2016

    How is this even remotely advice about managing money? And even if it were, can't you find shopping or food tips exactly like these in a zillion other places?

  • Helen / 3 August 2015

    I love your blog enjoyed your cleaning tips and the decoration of your little cottage was wonderful. Just keep up the good work on your blog x

  • Louise Martin / 20 June 2015

    I simmer a chicken carcass for two hours and either freeze the stock in small amounts or I make a big pan of delicious soup with any vegetables I have, but mainly I use onion, carrots, a stick of celery and orange split lentils. But if you put the vegetables in with the carcass, just wash and peel them and once you remove the carcass, pour through a sieve to remove the small bones etc, then you can blend the soup if you like. A two hour simmer really does bring out all the goodness and taste from a chicken carcass, delicious!

    Leftover mashed potatoes freeze really well. Also, any soup you make can be cooked with minimal water and made concentrated so you have less volume in the fridge and freezer - then I add milk for extra goodness and creamyness when I 're-heat each portion.

    Bananas make great smoothness when they have gone too soft to eat, add about 4 spoons of plain yoghurt and a little milk, and vanilla essence, yummy.

    If you see fresh tomatoes cheap in the summer, splash out and make your own fresh pasta sauce with oil, garlic, salt and pepper, delicious.

    If lettuce is looking a bit old and floppy, cook it in a stir fry or add to a soup.

    If you want to bulk up a meal to feed more, add tins of chick peas or audio beans etc, and these count as one of your five a day.
    Always have plenty of small Tupperware containers handy for leftovers and add to cosy could or roll into wraps for lunchbox, freeze or chill.

  • Yvonne Reynolds / 2 April 2015

    If some of your vegetables are looking tired, don't throw them away, just chop them up and cook together with either a chicken or vegetable stock until water has come to the boil. Strain veg and keep stock separate. Cool both vegetables and stock then place in freezer bags. (portion if on your own. No waste and lovely tastey vegetables and stock for gravy, soup or coucous is there for emergencies.

  • Yvonne Reynolds / 2 April 2015

    Cooking for one:
    1. My children are all grown up and now married with families - So cooking for one can be either wasteful or smart. I spend one Saturday a month making large pots of lovely home made soup, chicken dishes, Italian sauces and other recipes, then batch them up into portions using small containers and when cool, freeze. In the mornings I take out two containers of my food choice for the day, one for lunch and another for dinner and add veg/rice/pasta or sweet potatoe. If you have a friend round to lunch or dinner, just take out two portions. No waste, portions just right, eat well and save on energy bills.
    2) When baking buscuits, rusks, date and nut loaves, keep the crumbs - delicious with Yoghart/ice cream, for either breakfast or a light pudding.

  • Dadarao nandkumar khillare / 27 March 2015

    Very nice i am intrest

  • Janis Dolan / 10 March 2015

    Here's an idea. I know I shouldn't but sometimes I go to the chippie. They give you loads of chips which could be frozen for another time. Believe it or not they microwave really well. I also use chips in casseroles. Just chop em up a bit.

  • Janis Dolan / 10 March 2015

    I always have plain noodles in my cupboard. They are super and quick. Add to thin soups for bulk or mix with frozen peas and broccoli bits or sweetcorn and a Spoon full tomato ketchup for a quick supper. Yummy.

  • Janis Dolan / 10 March 2015

    I always have plain noodles in my cupboard. They are super and quick. Add to thin soups for bulk or mix with frozen peas and broccoli bits or sweetcorn and a Spoon full tomato ketchup for a quick supper. Yummy.

  • Sue Atter / 8 March 2015

    some of the ideas are really good - and you think -why did i not think of that?

  • Jane Gozzi / 8 March 2015

    Freeze overripe bananas,peeled, in bag or tub for banana muffins or cake. Parboil extra potatoes and parsnips when making a roast, run under cold water to stop overcooking. dry,roll in oil, season if you want, then bag or box, they freeze well! Add to your saved meat and gravy, easy roast dinner.
    Make extra portions of boiled rice, cool and freeze. Defrost and heat until piping hot and save on fuel for the next meal . any stale sponge cake can be made into a pudding, add jam, microwave on med/low 2 mins and eat with custard. Scrubbed potato peelings make great " chips "

  • Dorothea Sultana De Maria / 8 March 2015

    Some excellent ideas!

  • Sue / 8 March 2015

    Really like the cream tip! Defo will try.

  • Frankie / 21 February 2015

    I hope that you boil the chicken carcass to make stock for a delicious soup. If I don't have time on the day I press it down, freeze it and wait for another one!

  • Cathy / 20 February 2015

    I already do most of these things regularly. Since we changed from being frivolous over-spenders to responsible adults who budget properly, the following have been the most successful tools for saving money on our grocery budget: 1)Making a weekly meal plan before writing shopping list 2)Cooking from scratch 3)Using the freezer 4)Rolling leftovers forward to make a dinner for another day. One of the most simple ways to get a 'free' roast dinner is to carve some extra portions of roast chicken, make sure you make a bit of extra gravy, then freeze trays of roast chicken slices in gravy. Freeze. When you fancy a 'free' roast dinner, all you need to do is thaw & re-heat, & cook a bit of fresh veg. I also do this with roast meat & Christmas turkey.

  • Lisa Lightfoot / 19 February 2015

    Having just read this blog I'm rather pleased with myself. I already use many of these ideas but there is still room for a few more savings. Freezing cream in ice cube trays for when you need a small amount is definitely going to be added to my saving leftovers, as is the pastry pot idea. I hate throwing away these two things more than almost any other wastage. I can't believe I didn't think of this myself.
    I also save leftover stale bread and make breadcrumbs with it. As well as using it as a topping, I coat things such as chicken. It's delicious when you add herbs to the coating which are also great to freeze from fresh, so no wastage there either.

  • B. MALJ / 19 February 2015

    Buy in bulk its cheaper. Buy when their is bargains and store for when finance low.

  • Raminta / 18 February 2015

    Really good tips, thanks. Most of the times I actually freeze a fresh sliced loaf and toast it straight out of the freezer - that way I always have some bread and it never goes stale or mouldy. I do that with butter too - leave half in the fridge and pop the other half in the freezer.