Monday, March 1, 2010

sequential eating

Although I am a fan of leftovers others in the house are less excited by the repetition of certain dishes. Being a big fan of not wasting food, and a new fan of Jonathan Bloom's blog Wasted Food I try to look for creative ways to repackage, if you will, the offerings at the dinner table.

One way to do this is to take a moment and plan your menu, seeing what can be re-created from what you have already made. I offer here a couple of examples (I should note, by the way, that my favorite method is to turn dinner foods into breakfast foods as it makes food prep in the morning - a typically hectic time - a little easier):

Making Tuscan Stew with polenta for dinner typically means there is leftover polenta. I take that polenta, pan fry it, top it with an over easy egg, top that with some homemade mushroom marinara and it becomes breakfast. Since polenta is made with stoneground, or fresh ground, corn meal, it's a delicious way to add some fiber to your morning and help get you off to a good start. Pan frying the polenta gives a nice change to the texture and provides a tasty base to the egg and sauce.

In case you're wondering, the Tuscan Stew is delicious as leftovers and I typically have it for lunch the next day. There don't tend to be a lot of leftovers when I make this it.

Tonight's dinner was sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms with oregano and parsley served alongside organic chicken cilantro sausage for the meat eaters and veggie sausage for the vegetarians. The leftover veggies will be turned into an omelette in the morning. All the prep and cooking is done, which will make breakfast cooking a snap. This is a great way to use leftover sauces or cooked vegetables, adding them into omelettes, frittatas, or an egg scramble.

Another favorite is to make extra brown rice which we then turn into brown rice cereal the next morning. Adding a small knob of butter, some almond milk and a little dried fruit makes this a delicious, quick and easy breakfast. It's healthier than a bowl of store-bought cereal and more filling as well.

For dinnertime leftover usage we can get creative by rummaging through the fridge. Soup and/or chili is a great way to incorporate a lot of little-bit leftovers. Adding fresh sauteed onions, a tasty broth or sauce, and making sure the spice combinations go together well (in the case of soup, curry does not pair well with Italian spice, I'm just saying...) you can hide almost anything. Alongside fresh baked bread and a salad, it's a whole new meal.

Last but not least is the pot pie/sheperd's pie trick; you can hide almost anything under that crust. Pot pie is, of course, a pastry style crust and shepherd's, or cottage, pie uses a mashed potato crust. Taking your leftovers, combining them with added vegetables, if needed, under a crust which is then baked in the oven, you've got a new meal that doesn't take a lot of time, saves money (because you're not throwing out ingredients) and keeps everyone from getting bored with the same old leftovers.

Taking a few minutes to plan your meals will save you time and money while still allowing you to provide delicious and nutritious meals for your family.

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