Sometimes leftovers are great for lunch the next day or a Leftover Night. Sometimes they need a makeover. Especially with bigger than average families where what’s leftover isn’t enough to feed everyone.
This week, I was talked into making Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner because “it’s what we ate on St. Patrick’s Day when I was a kid!”, said my nostalgic and traditionalist husband. It’s kinda my job to hate everything that everyone else seems to love, and St Patrick’s Day is no exception, as much as I love apocalyptic visions. But I love my husband and hate to hear him whimper about missing out on some food thing, so I made his damned beloved Corned Beef and Cabbage.
(seriously, it’s not even Irish….)
There a bunch of things that can be done to recycle braising liquid into a new dish but soup seemed like a good idea (see my past post about my teeth.Whee.)
I tend to go to my pantry first before running out to buy something specific for a recipe, so that day I happened to have a partial bag of potatoes that were looking sad and begging to be used. I also have 22 lbs of assorted dried beans in my pantry (it’s quite possible that food insecurity has made me a paranoid food hoarder, which might explain why I get along so well with the Doomsday Prepper crowd ), so I decided to add some Great Northern Beans.
Good thrifty score on those recently at my local dollar store…. 75¢ per bag, which is half price.
So, here’s what I did: Threw all the liquid and the leftover veggies from the corned beef back into the crockpot, chunked up potatoes, and added the beans after quick soaking them . I added just enough water to cover the beans and everything else, which also helped dilute some of the saltiness. Threw in some typical herbage… oregano,garlic,a little lovage. Set temp for 6 hours on high. That was it. I didn’t really even have to add cornstarch as a thickener at all.
Not too much broth in my bowl because I like it that way. It was dee-lish. Fed the whole family plus enough leftover for lunches for the hubby the rest of the week.
Freezer Meals Boot Camp – Freezer Meal Recipes in 3 Hours for about $50! | Lamberts Lately.
The recipes at the link above are intended to be recipes for a freezer cooking day but they’re great, economical meals even if you’re not doing freezer cooking. If you’re not familiar with Freezer or Once A Month Cooking, it’s just simply taking a day to cook a bunch of meals that you freeze ,then thaw and reheat throughout the month. Usually it’s a main course and then all you have to do is throw together an easy salad or side dish while it’s heating. I found it to be really wonderful to do late in my pregnancy so there would be full meals ready to go during my post-partum “babymoon”.
When I have had time to do a once a month cooking day, it’s made life a lot easier. It’s like having convenience ,boxed meals but at the fraction of the cost and as healthy as you like them to be.
The disadvantages to freezer cooking is that it’s a little more difficult when you only have that tiny freezer on top of your fridge to store meals. Years ago, we scored a upright freezer for $30 at a yard sale and it was one of my best purchases ever made. If you’re struggling with not having enough food, a freezer can save your butt. When you find a good sale on produce and meat or have leftovers that can’t be used right away, freezing them can be a good food insurance for later. Sometimes on Freecycle or Craigslist , you will find freezers for completely free.
Freezer cooking can also be really hard when you have young children, especially babies. One of the tips those who usually give to people who have kids is to give them small jobs to keep them occupied and help. I found it easier just to send them out of the kitchen entirely! It was just easier for me personally to have a cooking day when my partner had a day off or someone else could help out.