50% Less Cooking Without
Hitting the Fast Food Button
By Linda Gray
Don't you just cringe when some clever kitchen type tells you
what you could be doing with the leftovers in the fridge, when
it's plainly obvious the leftovers will stay there until they
walk out by themselves!
More often than not, saving money with leftovers, although a
great idea, takes a lot of time in preparation and relies on
many other ingredients being available. So..........
Design your own leftovers!
Cooking twice as much as you need 'by design'
allows you the extra time tomorrow with the added bonus of knowing
going to cook. Dithering around in the kitchen working out who wants what and
what you forgot to buy, takes ages. If you know you've already
got a portion of the evening meal ready in the fridge, life becomes
a lot less stressful.
Most 'in-the-pot' dishes like bolognaise, chile, casseroles
and stews can all be made in double quantities in very little
extra time. Make sure you thoroughly reheat meat dishes until
very hot. The only real problem with in the pot recipes is that
you're obliged to eat the same meal two nights in a row. Although
you can serve it with rice, pasta, or potatoes to add some variety.
If you've managed to cook enough rice to feed the neighborhood,
don't throw away the leftovers. Let the rice cool completely,
place in a bowl, cover with plastic food wrap, and refrigerate.
Then the following evening you have a base for a new and exciting
meal...try these ideas:
· Egg Fried Rice: Make a plain omelette and remove from
pan. Cut into small pieces and set aside.. Put cold leftover
rice in the pan and stir gently. Add omelette pieces, stir and
heat until hot right through. Serve with Chinese style ribs,
or veggie sausages.
Special Fried Rice: Fry in olive or nut oil a finely chopped
onion, tomato, green pepper and a few sliced mushrooms. Add leftover
rice to pan. Stir gently. Add sweetcorn for colour and a few
chopped walnuts if liked. Serve with any meat, fish, egg or veggie
Rice Salad: In a large bowl, mix leftover rice with fresh raw
chopped vegetables; onion, tomato, sweet pepper, celery, sweetcorn,
and any other favorites hanging around in the fridge. Chill for
half an hour before serving. A half mayo-half natural yogurt
dressing can be gently stirred in if liked. To create a whole
summer meal in a bowl, add chopped boiled egg, cooked flaked
fish, pieces of ham or cooked chicken or even nuts and raisins!
Potatoes can easily be turned into 'designer leftovers' Cooking a whole tray of jacket potatoes will take no longer than
cooking one or two, just a few extra minutes scrubbing time needed.
Store leftovers in the fridge.
Flat Fries: Slice and shallow fry leftover jackets in hot olive
oil and some mixed dried herbs or cumin spice. Turn occasionally.
Serve hot with anything.
Family Omelette: Peel and dice leftover jackets and gently fry
in olive oil, with a chopped onion. Pour over beaten eggs and
add some grated cheese. Cook gently for a few minutes. Turn and
cook the other side. The omelette will probably fall apart during
this manouevre. Just push it back together. No-one will know!
Serve hot with a green salad.
Rough Potato Salad: Peel leftover jackets and chop roughly. Mix
in a large bowl with sweetcorn, tuna and a little chopped onion
or chives. Serve with a mayonnaise sauce.
Hot mashed potato, served with a delicious gravy, is always
a family favorite. Make twice as much and delight the family
two days in a row! Cool the leftover mash thoroughly. Place in
a bowl, cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate.
Baked Mash: Put leftover mash into a large bowl and stir in cooked
flaked white fish, bacon pieces, or cooked vegetables. Place
in a greased ovenproof dish, top with grated cheese and bake
in a medium oven until hot right through.
Burger Mash: In a large bowl, mix leftover mash with a little
beaten egg, some chopped chives or very finely chopped onion.
Then form small balls in your hands. Flatten slightly and, if
available, coat with breadcrumbs or chopped nuts. Fry as you
would a burger!
Cottage Pie: Cook minced beef, or veggie equivalent, a chopped
onion and a tin of tomatoes together and place mixture in a large
lightly greased ovenproof dish. Spoon leftover mashed potato
over the top, and sprinkle on a little grated cheese, if liked.
Heat through thoroughly in a medium to hot oven and serve hot
with green vegetables.
Cook a slightly larger chicken and keep the leftovers covered
- and maybe hidden - in the fridge. A vegetarian equivalent of
chicken will work equally well with these dishes.
Quick Chicken Curry: Pour a home made curry sauce or a jar of
ready - made over cut up leftover chicken pieces and heat through
thoroughly in a hot oven. Always make sure re-heated meat is
steaming hot right through. Serve with rice or jacket potatoes.
Chicken Salad: Mix cold leftover chicken with a finely chopped
onion and stir in a half mayo, half natural yogurt dressing.
Add a few walnuts for an extra special treat. Chill for 30 minutes
and serve with any dish..
Chicken Stir Fry: Put cut up chicken pieces in a frying pan with
a little olive or nut oil. Mix in thinly sliced sweet peppers,
onion, tomato and any other bits in the fridge that look healthy
enough to eat. Cook gently for a few minutes, ensuring the chicken
is thoroughly hot. Then mix into a bowl of hot cooked noodles.
Serve with an oriental style sauce.
Hot Tip: Planning a few menus in advance will mean you are always
in control of nourishing and tasty meals, and no need to lean
guiltily on the microwave waiting for the latest TV dinner to
Linda Gray is a freelance writer based in a log cabin
in a wood. See what else goes on between the trees over at
Drop in anytime!