Home » Save Big Money on Feeding Your Family By Double-Dipping

Save Big Money on Feeding Your Family By Double-Dipping

One of the ways we’re able to feed our family of six on roughly $400-$450 a month is by “double-dipping” on our meals.   The concept of double-dipping where meals are concerned is basically that you re-use what you’ve got left to make another meal. 

How to Double Dip on Your Meals

For instance, when ham is on sale at the local grocery store, we’ll buy a big ol’ ham.  A tip:  Never ever pay full price.  We either wait till it’s down to under a buck a pound or until they’re having a buy one, get one free sale (with ham, this usually happens around Easter or Christmas time).  We do this with most meat (and other products) that we buy.

So, we buy our ham, cook it up for dinner one night, and then, with the leftovers we’ll:

  • have ham sandwiches for lunch the next day
  • make bean and ham soup to freeze for later
  • make one or two casseroles to freeze for later.
  • dice the ham and freeze it to use in salads or casseroles

So, for the cost of one meal, we’ve now got 4 or 5 meals.  This can really be done with most meals, especially those that contain meat.

Leftover meat loaf can turn into meatloaf sandwiches or cheeseburger soup, or be chopped up into smaller chunks and topped with gravy for Swedish Meatballs.

Leftover chicken can turn into a chicken and rice hot dish or chicken tacos.  And by freezing some of the meals (or just dicing and freezing the leftover meat), we’ll have food available for those days when I don’t have time to cook, saving us even more money by avoiding those last-minute meals like delivery pizza.

Planning in Advance

You can also double-dip your meals on purpose by planning in advance what you’ll do with the leftovers. One of our favorite double dip foods is chuck roast. We cook a fabulous roast in the oven or crock pot with all the fixins’: you know the ones – onions, potatoes, carrots. We always choose a bigger roast; one where we know we won’t eat it all. Then we add in extra carrots and potatoes.

Then we take the leftovers and make roast beef stew. Or we separate the meat and onions out and add barbecue sauce for barbecue beef sandwiches, turn the leftover potatoes into mashed potatoes and serve with the leftover carrots.

Recommended Reading: Love Your Leftovers: Through Savvy Meal Planning Turn Classic Main Dishes Into More Than 100 Delicious Recipes

You can really do this with almost any big meal. For instance, leftover taco meat from taco night can be used to make taco salad the next day or this awesome recipe that we call Mexican Lasagna (FYI, the recipe calls for chicken, so you could do taco night with chicken instead of beef, but it tastes just as awesome with beef).

Or you could cook up a turkey and use it in a myriad of ways to double dip:

  • turkey casserole
  • turkey noodle soup
  • hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes
  • turkey, bacon and avocado wraps

The point is that there’s no limit to how you can double dip with your meals to make them into something else.

Recommended Reading: Food From Plenty: Good food made from the plentiful, the seasonal and the leftover. With over 300 recipes, none of them extravagant

By getting creative and refusing to let food go to waste, you can save hundreds of dollars a year on your grocery budget.  For another great leftover idea, read a post from our cooking extraordinaire friend, Michelle, over at Rockin’ The Mom Role.

What are your favorite money-saving tips for feeding your family?


  1. This is so so so important! Mr. Picky Pincher and I started doing this and it keeps meals new/exciting without costing extra money. For example, one night we’ll have barbecued chicken, and the next night we’ll do chicken tostadas (with the previous day’s cooked meat). You can do it with soups, pizzas, or sandwiches too.

  2. Hey Laurie! One other thing we try to do is eat the leftovers before cooking up another big meal. At times, we may get tired of eating that same dish of pasta, but the $$ savings is worth it, and we avoid food waste! As my Mom used to say, you know there are starving kids in China, right? (I always wondered how me cleaning my plate would save that poor Chinese kid…..)

    • Laurie says:

      Love that idea!! Funny about China – my mom’s brother used to literally ask my grandma that exact question when she’d feed him that line. 🙂

  3. Yes! I do this all the time. In fact, I work leftovers into all of our meals for the week. I like to cook once, eat twice. So, if I’m cooking ground beef for one meal, I usually plan a meal with ground beef in it later in the week too – and I double what I cook, saving half for later. We bought a whole hog (local and free range) recently, so I cooked a ham last week and it provided at least 4 meals!

    • Laurie says:

      That’s the ticket!! We still have some ham in the freezer from Easter that I’m saving for some other wonderful dish. 🙂 We don’t eat a ton of pork, but if we did I’d for sure buy a hog.

  4. Great post – I never thought of it this way…

    I usually will bulk cook to get more meals out of my food. I’m a growing young man (well I like to say that, so I can throw down a lot of food if I’m not careful)

    • Laurie says:

      Take advantage of that fast metabolism while you’re young, Erik. Another couple of decades and your metabolism will take a huge hit, and pigging out won’t be so fun (or without consequences) anymore. 😉

  5. Our favorite meat for this is a pork shoulder butt roast. We’ll get the biggest one we can that’ll fit in our crockpot, then shred the whole thing up into a big pile of shredded pork. We’ll take out a portion for that night and freeze the rest in quart-sized baggies for later. The thawed and reheated meat can go on barbecue pork sandwiches, tacos, nachos…and that’s usually about it before we eat it all because it’s so tasty! It could also go in burritos, enchiladas, soup, etc….the list could go on forever!

  6. I love how you repurpose leftover food and we do the same thing. It’s one of my pet peeves when people say they refuse to eat leftovers. What a waste! Fried rice is my go-to for leftover meat…we always have rice and frozen veggies so we put that together and have a meal.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, Rick used to be very anti leftover – then he married me and I was like “Yeah, this is what we’re having – deal with it.” His mom always tells me how amazed she is that he’s not refusing leftovers anymore. 🙂

  7. MMP says:

    We often reuse leftovers for another meal or to make new meals. It’s also great to pack as lunch the next day. I have found you have to keep an eye on sale prices, often food items are marked “on sale” but are not always the lowest price. For example, I’ve noticed certain ice cream bars on sale at various prices ranging from $1.50 to $2.50.

  8. Mrs. Groovy says:

    The one dish that stays great in my freezer in containers is meatballs. I freeze raw chicken with press n seal and use tin foil on burgers. Do you have any tips on how to avoid freezer burn and how to store/stock a freezer?

    $450/month is excellent for feeding 6 people. If I can stay under $300 for two I feel successful. And that’s with shopping at Aldi and only occasionally splurging for fresh fish at the one supermarket chain near us that actually has a seafood/butcher section.

    • Laurie says:

      We use our deep freezer, Mrs. Groovy, and since it stays at zero degrees we can avoid freezer burn for a good 6-12 months. I think your grocery budget is still pretty low compared to national averages. You should check that out.

  9. Steve from Arkansas says:

    Great post! My brilliant and talented farm raised wife has always cooked extra and frozen it or had it for leftovers that week. We even do that at restaurants since now we are sixtyish we just don’t need as many calories. We are both pretty lean endurance runners and tough tennis players but for whatever reason we can easily get full splitting a single restaurant entree. Or we’ll get one each and bring half of each home in doggie bags. But not for the dog! Only thing I always try to do, if we share a restaurant meal I tip like we ate two. The poor server is still working just as hard and I never want to penalize them for our being light eaters.

    • Laurie says:

      I think it’s awesome that you tip for two plates even when you only order one. We don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do we always tip really well. I waitressed for awhile as a young woman, and it’s tough work.

  10. Yes! Save money PLUS it can save you a lot of time cooking.

    Freezing is a good idea if you’re concerned about eating the same thing multiple times in a week. Soups and sauces freeze really well and are great ways to ‘double dip’.

  11. This is fantastic advice. Now I just need to learn how to cook a little better. We have no problem with the buying meat on sale and in bulk but then it usually just turns into 10 of the exact same meal. Not very exciting for the taste buds.

    Love Your Leftovers book looks interesting and the author’s blog looks very good.

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