End of Month Food Creativity

Updated on September 03, 2010
K.V. asks from Umatilla, OR
14 answers

Hi Mom's, I have another challenge for you that I'm hoping you creative women can help me with.

My least favorite part of the month as a homemaker is the last week. I try to meal plan as best as I can, but inevitably we get down to very sparse pickings in our kitchen the last week and can't go grocery shopping till the 1st when we get paid. It's so aggrevating! I'm not an extremely creative person in the kitchen, otherwise I'm sure I could Dr. up some of the stuff we do have, but I just stand in the kitchen looking at what's there and feeling so helpless as to what to make my family for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast sometimes.

I know I'm not alone out there, but am wondering if any of you have conquered the end of the month food blues. What have you done to ease the frustration? I would appreciate ANY and ALL suggestions so I can maybe try and plan ahead as I go into this next month.


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answers from Medford on

I like to have tortillas on hand as an easy wrapper for whatever leftovers you might have. The kids seem to think it's fun food, since no utensils needed, and since appearance is everything, have never caught on that their eating leftovers. We do eggs, leftover casseroles, sandwich fixings, stir frys, whatever there is an abundance of in the garden! There are endless possibilities, plus, it's super easy.

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answers from Austin on

Go to google and put in the ingredients you have then "recipe".. it is fun to see what comes up..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Yakima on

We also only get paid once a month. I have found that planning out the menus for a month really helps me. So if I buy a big bag of meatballs from Costco I pick one week will have spaghetti and meatballs and then later on with the spaghetti leftovers I might make spaghetti pie. Each week we will have something with meatballs for that month. I try to cook a roast or chicken on Sunday's and plan a meal during the week for the leftovers. I plan my meals around what is on sale with the meat I buy for the month. I purchase fresh produce every week. I find writing it down on a calendar helps me be a better planner for the month. I can be more creative at the first month when i decide what the daily dinner menus are. If i have enough leftovers sometimes on a Saturday will do leftover night and heat up the leftovers that i can make another meal from.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

A couple of suggestions that may help. Cook larger portions of food earlier in the month and freeze things for the last week, even if it's only spaghetti sauce here, veggies there, rice, potatoes, whatever. You can plan to use something from several meals to make a new one. That way, you're not eating sugar sandwiches, and you don't have to cook so much. Also, when we had kids at home, I used to make what we called "train wreck". All you need is a little meat (I usually used hamburger, but any leftover meat will do), a can of tomato sauce, some type of starch---pasta, rice or potatoes, and whatever veggies you can round up. It was never the same twice, and the kids loved it. One last tip I wish I'd discovered earlier in life-- pork tenderloin! I recently started buying them, half or whole, whichever is on sale. They usually cost $8-$10. I cut it into 1" pork chops, and usually get 12-14 chops, which I freeze in quart bags in meal sizes (2/bag since there's only 2 of us at home now). The small scraps I freeze for stirfry, which is another cheap meal. Stock up on potatoes, rice, pasta when on sale --all cheap and store well. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Are you already doing everything you can to reduce your food costs during the rest of the month? If you can save on your groceries during the first 3 weeks of the month, then you'll have money left to spend at the end of the month. Do you shop the Grocery Outlet store? (I see there's one in Kennewick.) I can usually save 30-50% off normal grocery store prices by shopping there. I get to try new items I've never seen, and they guarantee everything they sell. Also, I shop Safeway, but only when they put the "Save $10 off a $50 purchase" coupon in the paper. I check their sales, and make a list. I use the coupons in their ad as well as manufacturer coupons. I figure out in advance what my total will be, after coupons, and try to keep it as close to $50 as possible. That way, their $10 off coupon gives me 20% off on my $50 purchase. Usually, with my club card discounts and other coupons, I save 40-50% off of regular prices. (Safeway just put the coupon out today. It's in my Statesman Journal, and possibly in the Oregonian, too.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I always hold some of the meals aside for times such as these.

At the end of every week we have a fat of the land day, on this day we eat all of the left overs from the week. It is like an at home buffet delight. I also learned from my grandmother the art of soup making. Sling every thing in a pot with water, fresh onions, and other seasonings and in a few hours simmering slowly you have a delicious concoction. It is different everytime because you have cooked different meals everytime. You can always add a can of any kind of bean or pasta to the soup to fill it out along with carrots and celery too.

Also since you only get paid once a month it is important to plan for the last week of the month too. Try holding back on meal a week knowing that every meal should be stretched for at least two days. I really hope this helps. This is what used to happen at my house when I had the sensational six.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnson City on

Kraft has a section on their website where you can type in ingredients you have and it will suggest recipes.

Try to keep a few staples at all times and with those you can be pretty creative. Things like bread, cheese, pancake mix, eggs, pasta, canned cream of soupls, etc.

You can do grilled cheese and soup.
Pancakes or French Toast and scrambled eggs.
You can do a pretty wide variety of pasta dishes or casseroles with any kind of meat, canned cream of soup and pasta and just a few spices or even left over veggies.

I never knew the reason then why my Mom did some of these things, but she used to involve us in deciding dinner. She would do fun things like no labels on the canned goods. We each got to pick a can or two and it was "Mystery Dinner Night". We didn't care that we ate green beans, pork and beans and corn for dinner. We cared that it was turned into fun! She also would take 2 things and hide them behind her back and whichever hand we picked was what we got for dinner. Again, it didn't matter what we ate so much as she made it fun and we got to be involved somewhat in the decision making. We also have leftover night at least once a week. Maybe your kids would like doing things like that and that way you can come up with some doozy combinations to get rid of the few things you have left, but yet they still eat it and have fun? I buy a few canned goods each month that can be turned into dinners, like tuna. You can add it to any pasta, like mac n cheese and have more of a real dinner. I am not the best at this, but utilize your leftovers. Turn leftover veggies into a casserole by adding pasta or into a quiche by adding eggs. Use leftover meats to make soups, beans or stews with. Maybe you can try squirreling away a few extra dollars each week so that you have a little extra to get you thru the last week of the month?




answers from Anchorage on


Here's a website that I learned about from another mom here. Just click on recipes.

Another good website for cheap recipe ideas that I go to a lot is:


Her website is really funny and helpful. With pictures of every step. I can get lost in her website for hours. :)



answers from Anchorage on

I love to do ingredient searches on allrecipies.com! They are my go to when I do not have anything left, or know what to do with what is left.



answers from Medford on

Look into "once a month" or freezer cooking books. One of the best Christmas presents my husband ever gave me was a small chest freezer for our garage. I plan out a month's worth of meals and make multiples of dinner basics (mashed potatoes, meatloaf mix, taco meat, spaghetti sauce) to stock the freezer. By using the grocery store circular and Costco, I take advantage of what is on sale and plan accordingly. When the freezers about half empty, I start picking out new recipes to try and as I add to it, I rotate what's in there. I'm also keep an inventory of what's in the freezers in the garage and the regular one in the house. (OK, maybe that's a little OCD!) I make a few extra meals a week and freeze them, or make double of something and freeze the extras. Also, capitalize on your leftovers. If you know your family isn't going to eat it right away, freeze it for another meal before it goes south. A well stocked freezer can be your budget's best friend!



answers from Portland on

I'm a big fan of fried rice. Leftover meats (sausages, beef, pork, chicken, salmon) can go in; if you go veg, tofu will work. Eggs are another protein--scramble them separately before adding to rice. All sorts of veggies work- onion, garlic, aparagus,carrot, celery, mushrooms, red pepper, peas, zukes, broccoli, corn, tomatoes--whatever you like. The trick is to make pieces relatively similar in size so they will have a similar cooking time, and to know what kind of cooking your leftovers need. Precooked veggies can be reheated in the microwave before adding to the rice. I still haven't perfected my sauce for the rice (it's a hawaiian-style ketchup and shoyu combination) but you could find better instructions online or in a cookbook. This can be as fancy or simple as you like, just make sure you cook the rice a few hours in advance so it's not so sticky. Yum!



answers from Portland on

Try www.supercook.com. It's great for adding all the ingredients in your pantry and it lists recipes that you can make with what's on hand.

Another trick to stretch the dollars and utilize leftovers is to plan ahead. I like to roast a chicken with some veggies. We eat that as a meal. The next day, I take the leftovers and pick all the meat of the chicken and then toss the carcass and leftover veggies, some extra onions, herbs, etc into a large pot with enough water to cover the carcass. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few hours. I now have a wonderful homemade broth that is healthier and cheaper than store bought. With the leftover meat and broth, I have the foundation for a stew, soup, enchiladas, etc, etc. I use what I have on hand or I freeze my stock for another time. The meat can be frozen for the end of the month and tossed into a salad, rice or pasta with some veggies for a quick and easy meal.

Another "double meal" is to take a pork loin and cook it with any form of homemade glaze. Serve with cheap veggies like roasted potatoes and carrots, etc. The leftover pork makes a great sandwhich meat for lunch or dinner. or you can serve it thinly sliced in some noodles with a little soy sauce, honey, water, garlic, etc to make an asian style meal. Toss in some lightly steam veggies and it's a complete meal completely different from the previous night and no wasted leftovers. Helps stretch the dollars to plan leftovers and avoid waste. This time of year is great for dollar stretching too. You can pick a ton of fruit for cheap, wash cut and freeze it for fresh healthy fruit to be eaten in cereal, yogurt, as a dessert, frozen in ice as a treat for kids, pureed in milk for a "smoothie" and so on. The fruit is fresh and healthy, far cheaper than purchased at the store and handy all the time! It is also cheaper than junk food and more nutritious when done this way to keep the kids stocked with snacks and treats.

Things like butter can be purchased in bulk and frozen as well as bread. This cuts down on trips to the store for perishables. We all know what it's like to go to the store for one or two things and to walk out with a cart full of stuff we suddenly "needed." By avoiding those extra trips, we save a ton of money!



answers from Washington DC on

I've made these muffins before for breakfast (using breakfast sausage) and lunch (using either ground beef or italian sausage). Very easy, inexpensive, and 2 out of 3 three of my kids like them. I found the recipe at the following website:



Jiffy corn muffin mix (plus 1/3 cup milk & an egg)
Ground beef (for one package of muffin mix, at most 1/2 lb, but I'd guess less)
Shredded cheese (maybe a cup or so)

Saute the ground beef till it is cooked through, rinse & drain.
Mix together the corn muffin mix, egg & milk.
Stir in the ground beef and mix well.
Add shredded cheese till blended.
Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees (till a toothpick comes out clean)

One package of mix yielded 10 good size muffins. I wanted to make mini muffins but I didn't have wrappers for the pan.



answers from Eugene on

Soup and Pizza...two of my "free" dinners from leftovers and pantry staples.

I save meat and chicken bones, raw and cooked, in a ziplock bag in the freezer when I debone. Vegie scraps go in the bag, too: carrot peelings, onion and zucchini ends, cilantro stems. I cook these in a big pot of water and strain to make stock. Add cooked leftover meat (diced ham or cold cuts, ground turkey or hamburger) with some beans, rice or pasta and some chopped onion and carrots, peas or tomatoes to make soup.

Leftover bread, crusts, the odd hamburger bun, all get turned into cheese toast or cinnamon toast to go with the soup.

I also make pizza crust, throw leftover cold cuts, spaghetti sauce and cheese on top.

Some items I buy on sale or in bulk that always work in a pinch: pasta, spaghetti sauce, rice and beans, frozen peas and those big bags of shredded cheese from Costco which I freeze in smaller ziploc bags. Anything covered in cheddar cheese tastes pretty good.

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