Alison Griffiths

Step inside your kitchen and instead of a fridge, stove and dishwasher picture the room awash in dollar signs. Then imagine them flying out the window. Canadians waste an enormous amount of money, not only in the kitchen but when it comes to food generally.

When I hosted the television show, "Maxed Out," there was one debt scenario that reoccurred over and over again. Though a family would be struggling — sometimes with as much as $125,000 of non-mortgage debt — they'd be throwing money out the window over food. Often it was a huge takeout bill — one family clocked in at $750 a month. They and their children were walking, no waddling, blimps! But they were also crying poor.

Invariably I heard excuses along the lines of, "Not enough time to cook" and "Too tired to shop." Then there was the always laughable, "I can't cook as cheaply as we can eat out."

My next step was to open the fridge door and peruse the pantry — being a bit of a snoop I really liked this part. Invariably, I found a gold mine waiting to offer up money-saving nuggets.

Typically there would a variety of unidentifiable packages and containers filled with bits and pieces of food. I knew, and the folks on the show knew, that those packages would be there until they could only be transferred to the garbage with tongs.

* Tell us: How do you save money on your grocery bill?

Is this sounding familiar?

I've often counselled busy individuals and families to use up leftovers, note what is in the fridge and freezer and avoid grocery shopping until all the bits are gobbled up.

To be honest, the advice often fell flat. Great idea but it's tough to incorporate ½ cup of leftover mashed potatoes, a slice of pizza, a chunk of steak, four stalks of cooked asparagus and a boiled egg into a palatable meal.

Then I hit upon it. Let leftovers drive the menu. Cook in order to deliberately create a couple of leftover meals weekly. Not only will you save time and money, but the second meal is often tastier than the original. And, of course, cooking this way will be a whole lot healthier than takeout.