Warm Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Salad

Warm Spaghetti Squash and Spinach Salad

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Lindsay W
Latest posts by Lindsay W (see all)

What to do with leftovers?

Do you ever feel a bit like a catfish when it comes to leftovers in your house? Not so much that you’re a bottom dweller, but that the task of consuming leftovers falls mostly on you?

Being a work from home mama, I can feel this way a lot. Especially since I’m incredibly grocery budget conscious and hate to throw leftover food into the trash.

When I plan our weekly dinners, whether or not they will portion out enough for leftovers to make lunch the following day for me or my toddler is a consideration. Especially if it’s a meal that requires me to buy an ingredient solely specific to that meal.

Spaghetti squash is a prime example.

I’m not a big pasta eater, but pasta and meat sauce is easy and fast. It can be made super healthy if you buy the right kind of pasta. And I can even sneak extra vegetables and fiber into my toddler’s diet without so much as one thrown rotini noodle. So, we have it for dinner at least every other week.

But instead of pasta, I serve a generous portion of cooked spaghetti squash onto my plate. The tummy is much happier!

Since I’m the only one who eats spaghetti squash, I’m left with a decent amount left over for the following day, even if the squash was a small one.  If there’s any leftover meat sauce and pasta, my toddler gets that for lunch.

So, what to do with all this spaghetti squash?

On my grocery budget? Without buying some extra ingredient just for one or maybe two lunches?

I feel a little bit like the contestants on Food Network’s show Chopped staring down at my basket of ingredients.

Thankfully, spaghetti squash is pretty versatile. While I’ve thrown together some leftover lunches using spaghetti squash and whatever random things I found in my fridge, what I’m about to share with you is my favorite leftover lunch combination. The basic recipe leaves a lot of room for foodies who have more time to construct a lunch than I do most days to elevate it to something really fancy. (Let’s face it–if I have to cut up more than one thing and use anything other than the microwave or toaster oven to prepare lunch, it’s a NO GO.)

I call it Warm Spaghetti Squash & Spinach Salad.

BASIC* Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash

1 can of garbanzo beans

5-6 cherry tomatoes or 1 Roma tomato

1 heaping cup of raw baby spinach (a good handful for you non-measuring people like me)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Red pepper flakes or freshly cracked black peppercorns (to taste)

*See farther down for elevated ingredient ideas.

Directions to Cook the Spaghetti Squash:

Remember, this is a leftover, so for lunch I’m just pulling it out of the fridge already cooked and shredded. But, if you want to cook one just for this recipe, here’s how I cook mine.

Fill your stock pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Use your biggest, sharpest knife (a chef’s knife will do the trick) to cut your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.

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Once your water is boiling, very carefully place each half into the stock pot.

Boil for 15-20 minutes, depending on how big your spaghetti squash is. You should be able to pierce it without resistance with a fork.

Once it’s cooked, I very carefully pour everything out of the stock pot into a colander which I’ve placed in the sink.

Once the halves have cooled down enough for you to handle them, use a fork (or two) to remove one of the halves from the colander and place it on a plate on your counter. Use a fork to scoop the seeds out of the squash.

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After boiling, but with seeds still intact.

You’ll pull some of the squash with it too, and it will feel a lot like cleaning out a pumpkin at Halloween, only hotter. Discard the seeds.

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After scooping the seeds out.

Now you’re ready to shred your spaghetti squash. Just use two forks and scrape the top of the flesh. It will scrape off like little “spaghetti noodles.”

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Transfer your “noodles” to a bowl (preferably glass or ceramic since they’re going to be hot). Repeat with the second half.

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The finished “noodles.”

Directions to prepare the salad:

If you’re building your salad straight from here, ladle out at least a cup’s worth of spaghetti squash into a microwave-safe bowl. Next, drain and rinse your garbanzo beans. Add 1/3 cup to your spaghetti squash.

Next, quarter your cherry tomatoes lengthwise, or dice up a roma tomato and add it to the squash.

Add a heaping cup of baby spinach (or a generous handful) on top of the tomatoes.

Finally, squirt your lemon juice, drizzle your EVOO, and splash your red wine vinegar on top.

Pop your bowl in the microwave for one minute on high. This will soften your spinach and tomatoes and reheat your spaghetti squash if you started with cold leftover squash.)

Carefully remove from the microwave and adorn with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes or freshly cracked black pepper.

Voila! Lunch is served!

Now, this was the basic version using things you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

Here are some ingredients you could add to elevate this dish. (Do I sound like a Chopped judge or what?!)

Elevated Ingredients:

Toasted pine nuts

Goat cheese or feta cheese (instead of parmesan cheese)

Finely chopped red onion

Greek vinaigrette (instead of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and EVOO)

My favorite thing about this lunch is how easy yet healthy and economical it is. As work from home or stay at home mamas, we don’t have to always eat what our kids eat or adopt a catfish mindset when it comes to our lunches. With a little creativity, you can feel like you’re eating something prepared at a bistro! If you can tune out the Daniel Tiger songs that may be playing in the background, that is.

Do you have a dinner time leftover ingredient that you transform during the following day’s lunch? I’d love to know what it is and how you use it in the comments section!

<3 Lindsay

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Find some delicious recipes in these posts as well!

Favorite Homemade Soups Quick and Easy Recipes Frugal Meal Planning Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Frugal Meal Planning: Hanging on to Dollar Bills, Part 2

Frugal Meal Planning: Hanging on to Dollar Bills, Part 2

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link to Tina’s new favorite frugal meal planning tool.  

Last month, I shared some favorite grocery apps that can help save money.  Served for today’s special is a side dish of Menu Planning!  My hubby and I enjoy helping families learn how to budget, live within their means, save, and be good stewards of the resources God has given them. We are often asked for ideas on how to save money while getting out of debt.  My hope is that these tips will be helpful for your family as well, in any stage of life.  Today, I’ll share easy meal planning ideas to help save time, money, and sanity!

Meal Planning is a big deal. It’s time-consuming and if we don’t plan well, it can be more expensive than it should be.  

(If you missed Part 1 about ways to save money on groceries, here it is.)

hanging on to dollar bills_by tina p2 revised4_logo maker mac app

Hanging on to our hard-earned dollar bills a little longer means not only finding ways to cut back on grocery spending, but also having a plan for that spending.  Here are a few helpful ideas for frugal meal planning:

 

Create Your Own Frugal Meal Planning Menu Planner

If you’re crafty and have the time to make it, a Hanging Menu Planner is the way to go.  Here are some options:

Cork Board Menu:

If you’re like our friend Tia, you might get one made for you! Our friend Kayla made this cute board for Tia’s birthday.  She bought a half cork/half dry-erase board at Walmart and decorated it.  Tia can hang her eMeals recipe print-outs (more on eMeals below) and write notes for her kids on the other side.  Tia says the best part is her kids no longer ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner!?”  I love it!

tia's menu board

Magnetic Board:

I love the one from Megan at The Homes I Have Made (http://thehomesihavemade.com/magnetic-menu-board-2/).  She sells customizable templates for $6, so you just have to gather the supplies, print, and create.  I’m working on creating mine!

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Pinterest has an overwhelming supply of ideas and options, so just pick one you like and go with it.

 

Use a Frugal Meal Planning Menu Program

If you’re not so crafty or don’t have time to create, there are another gazillion time-saver menu planning ideas out there.  I’ve tested several subscription and non-subscription online, downloadable, and app-based programs.  Here are my favorites:

 

Pinterest “Weekly Meals” Locked Board:

I have a locked Pinterest board that I call “Weekly Meals.”  This is the cheapest plan (free), but I do have to make my own grocery list and decide which day to make which meal.  First, I pin a recipe to one of my other boards (faves, sides, sweets, etc) and then re-pin the recipes I want to make in the current week to the locked board.  (This was not my original idea, I learned it from another blogger.  Kudos to her, because it’s one of my favorite options!)

 

eMeals (My Highest Recommendation!):

Do you want to save money, time, eat well, and not waste food?  Or maybe you don’t know how to cook?  Then eMeals is for you!  It’s by far my favorite of all the online planners.  When my husband and I were getting out of debt, we actually saved $200/month on groceries by using eMeals!  That’s just for two of us–we’ve heard of families saving a whole lot more than that.  They have a wide variety of plans for different diets (classic, gluten-free, diabetic, vegetarian, paleo, budget friendly, simple gourmet, etc).  They plan the meals and shopping around sales at your local grocery store.  When they have you buy an ingredient for one meal, that ingredient will be used up in another meal, so it limits waste.  (Is there anything in your fridge right now that you bought for one recipe, and haven’t used it since? Then you really need to check this out!)

Even paying $5/month for a one year subscription, which includes a free phone app, we still saved $200, and I no longer stressed about what to cook or how to cook it.   Back to our friends, Kayla and Tia.  They both started using eMeals for their families this month.  Neither of them had previous experience with cooking much more than frozen pizza, but with this plan, they can cook!  Shopping is made easy with a categorized grocery list; recipes are simple and easy to follow.   You can occasionally find a Groupon to reduce the cost even further. Here’s one for a 6-month subscription: https://www.groupon.com/deals/emeals-12-little-rock. I can’t say enough about it!  Here’s the link to eMeals website – there are free sample menus you can print & try it out!  http://emeals.com/

 

Plan to Eat (My New Favorite):

I can save my pinned Pinterest recipes, edit and rate them, as well as any recipe I add via online or hard copy.  The menu planner is stellar and the grocery list is superb.  These guys have really thought of everything.  Their pricing is reasonable too.  Oh, and if your friends use it too, you can share any recipes you’ve uploaded or keep them in your secret recipes box.  SO fun!  My goal is to use Plan to Eat with my new Magnetic Menu Board to complement each other!

 

Combining money-saving apps with a meal plan, is a sure way to hang on to those God-given dollar bills a little longer.   Next time:  Hanging on to Dollar Bills by Yard Sale-ing & Yard Selling!
I’d love to hear how you do meal planning!
Hanging onto Dollars Frugal Meal Planning Pinterest

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