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Angela Self's Smart Cookies

Save money: Drop that takeout Add to ...

It's a common occurrence. You open the refrigerator, stare blankly at the random ingredients for far too long, decide there's nothing to make and opt for ordering in.

And just like that you've spent $20 – not including the groceries now going to waste.

One way to avoid costly takeout: supercook.com.

Enter ingredients that you have on hand, and this site will do the meal planning for you. I took a scan around my kitchen the other night and entered chicken, tuna, lettuce, veggies, cheese and milk. A few ideas popped up. Then I was asked if I had salsa, pasta and tomato soup. I checked and had all three. Even more recipes came up. Every time I added an item, my suggested recipe list automatically updated. The easiest and most appealing were tuna salsa salad and tuna casserole, followed closely by Cowboy Chicken.

If a recipe sounds interesting, simply click on it and you'll see the full instructions and possibly photos. Recipes are sourced from reputable websites, including marthastewart.com, allrecipes.com and recipezaar.com. And while it's helpful for creating appetizers and entrees, the tool is also great for desserts.

Always looking out for you, supercook.com can even recommend shopping lists for future meals to make the most of what you already have.

Now, that's using your noodles.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at globeinvestor.com .

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