Why you Should Make a Meal of Leftovers

LeftoversI was shattered when I got home from work yesterday, so I was happy to have a quick and easy dinner planned. Jacket potatoes with leftovers from the freezer; in this case some bolognese sauce and/or beef casserole. It may sound an odd combination but it was filling and tasty. A can of Smart Price sweetcorn ensured at least one of our five a day. With a little planning it is so easy to make a meal of leftovers.

How to make a meal of leftovers

I rarely throw food away. Even small amounts of mash or veg can be frozen to use to thicken soups and stews. Wrinkled apples make an excellent puree to mix with yogurt or serve with custard. Bread pudding is better made with stale bread (and I use the crusts). I also whizz up slightly stale bread into breadcrumbs and leave a bag in the freezer – you never know when you might need these. If yogurts are getting near their use by date I freeze them – when the kids were small I would put a lolly stick in the bottom of small fromage frais pots for a treat on a warm day. If I roast a chicken I usually deliberately get a larger one than I need and turn the excess into curry or make a creamy chicken pasta sauce. The carcass goes back into the freezer and when I have a couple I make stock.

Ignore best before dates

I ignore best before dates (and frequently buy from Approved Food, which sells food near or past its best before date at a hugely reduced price. In addition, I use my eyes and nose before chucking anything out that has a use by date. If you use my referral link I will earn a small commission.

I shop with a list and always have at least a week’s meal plans, so I don’t buy food that won’t be used. I do a regular stock take of my fridge, freezer and larder to see what needs using up, then plan meals around what is there. If I am working late, my plan will take that into account and I will either throw a meal together in the slow cooker or defrost something from the freezer. This way I am never tempted to get a take away when I get home late and tired. We will also eat something healthy.

I never guess how much rice or pasta to cook – I always measure 3 ounces of pasta and 2-3 ounces of rice, depending on how hungry we are. Sometimes I cook too much on purpose so that I can take some for lunch the following day.

Love Food Hate Waste

It is shocking what people throw away, not just because it is a waste of money, but because it seems immoral to be so cavalier about food when so many people in the world don’t have enough. There is lots of information, guidance on how to avoid wasting food and recipes at Love Food Hate Waste.

If you have stale bread to use up, here is my favourite bread pudding recipe, from my trusty and ancient Cranks Recipe Book. They don’t sell this fab book any more but Amazon has the one below, which according to the reviews has a fab selection of classics from the original (disclaimer – this is an affiliate link).

Spiced Bread Pudding (I always double up this quantity – it gets scoffed very quickly)

Stale bread, 8 oz (225g); half a pint of milk (284ml); mixed dried fruit 4 oz (100g); grated butter 2 oz (50g); brown sugar 4 oz (100g); mixed spice 1 tbsp (15ml); 1 egg; 4 tbsp milk (60ml); pinch of ground nutmeg

Break up the bread and place in a mixing bowl with the milk. Leave to soak. Add the dried fruit, butter, suga and mixed spice. Beat well. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the bread mixture. Turn into a greased shallow ovenproof dish, level the surface and sprinkle with ground nutmeg. Bake at 180 C (350F/Gas mark 4) for about 45 minutes, until set (in my fan oven 35 minutes will do). Really delicious!!

There are more ideas for how you can make a meal from your leftovers, here, here and here.

 

Jane’s War on Waste!

Has anybody seen Hugh’s War on Waste on BBC1 at all? I watched the first one on catch up over the weekend and I heartily applaud what he is doing. 

Seeing a parsnip farmer going out of business because the supermarket they supply to will only accept parsnips of equal size and shape was painful and frustrating. This means tons of perfectly good fresh produce is being thrown away because the supermarkets insist that we, as their customers, will only accept perfect looking vegetables free of blemishes. The sad thing is I think this may be true for many people. Unless we grow our own produce we have been conditioned to think that misshapen veg is odd, when actually it is quite normal.

I was not surprised to see the amount of food that some of the households featured threw away each week. In the UK this averages £15 a week! That’s almost £800 a year -a holiday perhaps or at least a small pay rise. Our grandmothers would have had a fit – in the war it actually was illegal to waste food. It was a scarce and precious resource. They used every scrap and stretched every morsel and we were all the healthier for it.
  I don’t waste as much as the average person but have been known to forget the half a pot of hummus lurking at the back of the fridge, to chuck the last bits of the salad bag because they are looking a bit the worse for wear, to let the cereal go stale and to leave dry goods such as sugar and flour too long before I use them up.

Inspired by Hugh, this weekend I made sure we started to use some bits up. I made a banana cake with some rather brown bananas and some flour near its end date (not that I take much notice of that with dry goods), I made everyone have salad in their sandwiches at lunchtime, I made soup from the leftover cooked veg that I have been collecting in the freezer, I forced the last of a bottle of red wine down Mr S’s neck (surprisingly easy that one) and I made a large batch of apple purée from the windfalls that have been hanging around for a few weeks. 

I still have the Halloween pumpkin to use in some way but there is no rush since we went out and never actually got the chance to carve it! That will probably go for soup too as I love it and it’s good for work lunches.

It makes me mad when food is wasted, but if makes me madder if the person wasting it is me!

Leftovers risotto: waste not want not!

imageSometimes you need to be creative in your frugal kitchen. You can’t always slavishly follow a recipe. I frequently adapt recipes to make use of what I have, and sometimes I just make it up.

imageLast night I looked in the fridge and freezer and I had some shredded chicken from Sunday’s roast (frozen), half a punnet of mushrooms that were looking a bit sorry for themselves and half a jar of spanish chicken sauce. So what to do with all these leftovers? I decided on a sort of risotto. This is what I did:

imageFried the mushrooms in oil and a little butter with two cloves of garlic and two large shallots purchased by our French student when he made the ratatouille last week. I added a handful of frozen peas too. I cooked about 350g basmati rice and threw that on top with the half a jar of sauce, a can of tomatoes and half a glass of white wine that was lurking in the fridge. I boiled it up for a bit and added a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée, salt and pepper and a couple of shakes of smoked paprika. Finally I threw in the shredded defrosted chicken and warmed it through thoroughly. It was delicious! This fed three of us last night and we finished it for lunch today.

imageSimple, nutritious and it used up some leftovers that some folk would have ended up throwing in the bin.

imageWhat are your best leftover recipes?

I love leftovers!

imageI invariably take in leftovers for my lunch and I’m disappointed when we don’t have any. Last night we had roast ham (which in itself was left over from Sunday) creamy mashed potato, broccoli and cheese sauce. So that’s what I have today and it is going down a treat. I purchased a microwaveable bowl with a lid in the Sainsbury’s sale and it has proved well worth the £3.50 I paid as it is excellent for transporting and reheating my work lunches. It’s good for soups and salads too. The make is Systema and I highly recommend it.

My French student discovered the English pub last night. I only saw him fleetingly at breakfast so will have to wait until later to see if he tried a pint if bitter as we recommended! We have loaned him an old bike to get about and he is so appreciative. It saves him a 20 minute walk to college or the bus fare.

DD2 has signed a tenancy on a house with her friend and will be off in a few weeks. Only one daughter at home! Waiting for nearly empty nest syndrome to strike!

Soup, sunshine and a tidy cupboard (another exciting Sunday at Shoestring Cottage!)

Mr Shoestring and his twin!! Fun with the panoramics

Mr Shoestring and his twin!! Fun with the panoramics

It was a beautiful cold but sunny winter’s day here in Essex today with (so far) no sign of the snow that was predicted. We took advantage and went for a nice long walk down to the Blue Bottle earthworks in Lexden to see the ducks.

We came back to a huge bowl of ‘leftovers soup’, my favourite kind! I made stock last night with 3 chicken carcasses from the freezer. One of them had quite a lot of chicken still on it, so I picked that off to put in the soup later. All I had to do today was add some veg – I put in a bag of frozen home grown courgettes, some celery and carrots, and 3 small tubs of left over cooked veg, again from the freezer. I keep old plastic tubs in there and put in any left over veg when I have cooked a bit too much. This makes soup making so easy as there is hardly any peeling and chopping to do, and it is super thrifty. Waste not want not!! Then when it was all cooked up I seasoned it, blended it and added the shredded chicken. It was yummy.

Leftovers from the freezer

Leftovers from the freezer

Made into soup!

Made into soup!

I also tidied up the linen cupboard from hell. I put a pic on yesterday – the shame!! I threw out some single duvet sets that are no longer used and some old towels. It looks so much better – it lifts the soul!! It really doesn’t take much to make me happy 🙂

tidy cupboardI am still missing my regular glass of wine – January is feeling like a long month. However, when I have finished Dry January I will try to stick to wine at the weekends. I rarely drink much, but have a glass with dinner or watching TV on a fairly regular basis. That will save me some money too.

We have been looking at holidays today. It is very important for me to have a break somewhere nice if at all possible, and I am happy to do without other things to get one. We have been looking at a site called Sunshine.co.uk, recommended by a friend of mine, and there are some very reasonable deals to Greece. I have never been, so if we can find one at a good price we will book it. It will just be the two of us as the other girls are going away with friends and the youngest is having a trip to New York with her father, so we don’t have to go during term time and can pay low season rates.

What are your holiday plans? And have you managed some frugal food today?

Using up the leftovers and indulging in some curly veg

Watch out, they taste curly!

Watch out, they taste curly!

I have had a very productive weekend, although there are still a lot of things I would have liked to do. I did have a lie in this morning though – I made a point of it. What a luxury to chill out a bit on a Sunday morning!

I made some scrumptious banana bread. I always use the Delia Smith recipe here, but this time I substituted the orange and lemon peel for some toffee chips I bought a while ago to decorate a cake and it worked incredibly well – toffee and banana is a winning combination. I was also a lot easier than faffing around pulling peel off fruit and then wondering what to do with the fruit itself!

banana breadWhilst the oven was on I used the week’s bread ends to make bread pudding. Mr S took half for his Mum, and the rest will be used for lunches and puddings through the week.

For dinner I used Frugal Queen’s cheat’s meatballs recipe, which was very nice with home grown beans, carrots and chard. I made double for tomorrow’s dinner too. It was dead easy and certainly cheaper than a roast.

shedI sound as if I have done nothing but cook all day, but we did manage to get out and do a bit of tidying up in the garden, plus picking the veg for tea. I have no idea why the carrots turned out to be curly as we grew them in big pots so there were no stones. Still, they tasted nice! Mr S continues to make his sheds look fabulous, putting an old enamel sign he came across on the wall of one of them. I think he has plans for a woodburning stove and a veranda. He will be on George Clark’s Amazing Spaces next 🙂

To top it all, the new series of Downton Abbey started tonight. Brilliant as usual and an excellent way to finish the weekend. What did you all get up to?