Un-Frugal: The Curse of Forgotten Leftovers

J.D. and I are fairly good at eating our leftovers. I often intentionally create leftovers for my sack lunches or an easy weeknight dinner. J.D. has improved at remembering we have them since instituting his leftover list on the fridge. But last night he returned to his evil ways, and I thought I'd share it with his readers.

For several weeks, we've had a half-jar of homemade marinara sauce in the fridge. Made with last summer's garden tomatoes, it's Good Stuff. Thinking I ought to use it soon, I added a roll of pre-made polenta to last weekend's grocery list, envisioning some northern Italian goodness.

On Sunday afternoon I actually had the ingredients on the kitchen counter, moments away from fixing dinner. The oven was preheating. My stomach was growling. Then J.D. came into the room and mentioned that he had a hankering to pick up take-out from DaVinci's, a local Italian place. That sounded good to me, too. Plus it was his birthday, so he deserved a treat. I put the sauce and polenta away.

We ordered way too much food from the take-out place, but it was good, and I dutifully packed half of my leftovers for lunch the next two days. Having had pasta and sauce for lunch, however, I've been in no mood for sauce and polenta for dinner. But in the back of my mind I've kept a picture of the half-filled jar, front and center on the top shelf of our fridge.

Tuesday night rolled around and J.D. decided to have his take-out leftovers. This, in itself, is a good thing. However, the next thing I knew he had gone to the pantry and opened a BRAND NEW JAR of tomato sauce to add to his dinner. I let out a long wail of despair. My anguish deepened as he used only about two tablespoons of sauce. Argh!

I guess I know what I'm having for dinner tomorrow! And I have warned J.D. that more pasta is in his future.

On a related note, I found this year-old NYT piece on how to train your spouse both informational and amusing. I'm e-mailing it to Kris!

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brad
brad

I can’t tell you how many half-empty jars of tomato sauce are hanging out and going moldy in the depths of our fridge! It reminds me of Roz Chast’s classic New Yorker cartoon: “Journey to the Center of the Refrigerator.” Lasagne would be a good way to use up that sauce…I usually use two full jars of sauce for a batch of lasagne. And if all the mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan of the Italian-American style lasagne sounds too high-fat, you can make authentic Italian lasagne instead, which only uses Parmesan and a little Bechamel sauce (white sauce made with butter… Read more »

Israel Lopez
Israel Lopez

In my house, there are many mouths to feed, so there is rarely any half used tomato sauce.

Even when im only planning on eating/making a little pasta + sauce, I use all of it, throw it on the pasta afterwards and let it ‘marinate’ in the frige overnight. Its wonderful 😛

Great post 🙂

db
db

Ohhh — pasta! Sauce never goes unused in my house.

And I’m very impressed that you know about polenta! It’s my favorite food in the world, fixed right.

Andrea >> Become a Consultant Blog
Andrea >> Become a Consultant Blog

I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but my guide to leftovers says that opened tomato sauce is only okay in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Leo
Leo

@Mrs. GRS: Any time you want to share funny stories about J.D., please do so! I found it entertaining. I also relate because I do the same thing at times.

RJ
RJ

What? You don’t make your own polenta? It’s much less expensive when homemade!

Also, a good and frugal alternative to jarred sauces to to use canned tomato sauce and add your own herbs, spices, etc. Ounce for ounce, canned tomato sauce is generally far less expensive than jarred pasta sauce. Fewer preservatives and less sodium, too.

Fiona
Fiona

Cheaper, and tastier again, buy whole tinned tomatoes. One can will do for a meal for two, perhaps with a little leftover.

Adding your own herbs and stock makes the tomatoes much more versatile too. You can use them in Lebanese, Italian, Greek dishes and more.

limeade
limeade

Funny story; I think we can all relate on some level. I love pasta, and I love having leftovers. In fact, I’ve got some leftover spaghetti for lunch today (better than spending 6 bucks in the cafeteria at work).

-limeade
http://fiscalmusings.blogspot.com

misterlinc
misterlinc

da vincis is sooo good…great blahg, been reading it for a while, we must be in the same metro area?

Josh More
Josh More

You might be interested in the cookbook: “Half a Can of Tomato Paste and Other Culinary Dilemmas” by Jean Anderson and Ruth Buchan. It is structured to provide you with recipes that use up the leftover ingredients from a meal. Amazon has “used and new” for $0.19, but I suspect that shipping would be considerable. Other places to look would be bookfinder.com or local book sales. It seems to be one of those cookbooks that often appears used. Another technique is to cook once every few weeks and freeze things. That way you can plan your buying and make sure… Read more »

Will the Computer Guy
Will the Computer Guy

My problem is that we will make too MUCH food for the three of us (me, my wife, and our daughter), and forget about the leftovers. We’re getting better, but it’s still tough.

Andrea >> Become a Consultant
Andrea >> Become a Consultant

I just plan 3-4 meals per week. If I cooked last night, that means leftovers tonight. Much easier to keep track of them that way.

donny
donny

You had that opened jar of marinara sauce in the frig for several weeks? Didn’t it have mold all over it?

Peter
Peter

Make your own sauce. It’s easy, tastes a hell of a lot better than jarred sauce, and is cheaper to boot. Make a lot and freeze most of it.

Tsu Dho Nimh
Tsu Dho Nimh

We assigned a specific shelf in the refrigerator for those half-used things and leftovers.

If there is none on the shelf, then it’s safe to open a new jar or can. It has cut down on the wasted food a bit, but note important, it keeps more room for the really important stuff, like beer.

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