Monday, February 14, 2011

leftovers vs planovers

I have a friend that routinely mentions that I can take leftovers and make it into something totally different and flavorful.Considering that I didn't grow up with leftovers I don't know where the talent came from.

Might be because I don't prefer to eat the same thing over and over?

Casseroles using leftovers are easy.Toss protein,carb and veggies(sometimes fruit also) with a binder of cream sauce,tomato sauce,gravy or just a can of soup in to a casserole dish,cover (or not) and bake at 350 for 30 min or until hot in center.

Soups using leftover are easy.Toss leftovers into a pot,add broth,water or juice and call it a day.I will toss small pasta or rice in to extend it if it's not as filling as I would like it to be.

Other...leftovers can go into pastas with any kind of sauce or just butter and seasonings if needed.Or you can toss them into a tortilla wrap or sub bun.OR dump over rice. Or dumb in to eggs and bake,fry, scramble.

My Nonna used to make bean soup on Monday, Tuesday she would add water and mixed veggies(what ever was on hand or in the pantry), Wed she would add rice or small pasta or broken up spaghetti and on Thursday everything was served over stale bread or cube the bread and toss in the soup (bread she had baked the Friday before). It doesn't sound the most exciting meal there was but it was different each week as she changed the type of beans, veggies and whether it was with pasta or rice.The staleness of the bread wasn't noticable with it being in the soup.You could always toast them and make them into croutons for the soup.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

planning and habits

The main thing is you have to PLAN for the thin times, no money to buy food, no way to get to the store due to weather etc. and you have make it a habit.It takes a bit of time to plan and about 30 days to make it a habit of doing it constantly. It also takes time to actually do the work. If you plan it, use a crock pot, your oven, the refrig and freezer, a pressure cooker if you have one, things can be simplified for you and take less hands on time.

When I first started making vegetable broth we had Thanksgiving dinner.I had shared some of the broth with my youngest daughter and we were talking about it while preparing the big dinner. AFTER we were done prepping the vegetables we both realized we had just peeled everything directly in to the trash can. Needless to say a few mentioned to us that we were giving that trash can strange looks and they were wondering why. We figured we had just tossed 7-8 qrts of broth into the trash.We didn't dig them back out as one grandkid asked if we were going to but it was a definite lesson on where we peeled the veggies from then on.

I have a pantry, I have a hugh pantry for only two people but it's nothing for the kids to call and need help with groceries or for me to provide meals to others in need.

I didn't always have a hugh pantry.It has been years in the making with a lot of planning that let it come about. My son in law still teases me for having can goods under the bed, under the couch, love seat and in bedroom closets.He found them as he was helping us move.I did the same when I lived in a two bedroom trailer with all the kids.Now I have a hugh basement for my pantry like I did when the kids were younger.Things keep better in a cool spot and I have a better veiw of what needs used up first.

I always have kept the staples which is the list I already posted.Might not have paid the cable or phone bill so I could but food and a roof over your head comes first.

I am in a place where my landlord has blessed me with his okay to plant as big as garden as I want.I have did container gardening when I didn't have a place to plant anything or I hit the farmers markets, the pick your own farms, and the sales at the stores (Aldi's and Save-A-Lot along with the rest). My groceries are bought on sale and I try to buy in season. Before I buy any meat I check the marked down meat and base my menu on it.

I keep a running inventory of my pantry especially the freezer. I thought I needed ham and ground beef this week but I don't when I checked the inventory. I do need ground pork,pork chops,sausage, bacon and ground veal. I finally put the inventory on an excel sheet that helps a lot with updating once a day after I pull what I am fixing for our meals.

The fat of any meat(pork,poultry,beef, sausage,bacon etc) goes into ice cube tray and is frozen then put in a freezer bag.

Shells of seafood into the freezer to make fish stock. This is usually around the holidays when my mother brings shrimp and cocktail sauce.

Wash the veggies before peeling them and toss the peelings into a gallon freezer bag to make veggie broth. Include onion peelings, garlic and mushroom stems. I keep the broccoli and cauliflower separate as they are strong. I also keep the broccoli,sweet potato and white potato separate if those soups is coming up on the menu.

Leftover vegetables, toss into a container in the freezer or frig for soups, stews or casseroles or in this family a "big egg" which is actually a frittata,omelette or a crustless quiche.

leftover meat, you can either toss each separately into a container or toss them together put in the freezer or frig for soups, stews or casseroles or in this family a "big egg" which is actually a frittata,omelette or a crustless quiche.

Keep bread on the table at all times. Whole grain is better for your health but white will fill you up when you are low on food. You can spend a small fortune on buying bread for a large family or a small family of big eaters. Learn to make bread etc. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois is a great book if you don't have a lot of time or just don't want to spend a lot of time on bread. Borrow it from a library and check it out. You will be buying the book in the end anyways.

Another thing...have the family drink water at all meals and during the day. Save the juice for morning only and only let them have a serving which is 1/2 cup ( 4 oz not 16). Give only an 8 oz glass of milk once a day and serve the other 2 servings of dairy as cheese,cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt etc. Let the sodas before for special occasions.

end of the month meals

I once asked my kids what was their favorite meal growing up was.

Beef and homemade noodles, homemade bread fresh from the oven and homemade (mock) KFC coleslaw. Poultry noodles ran second. Beef and veggies soup with homemade bread came in third.

It amazed me. It wasn't the Tday dinners or the pot roast but the very meals that I made when scraping the bottom of the barrel for food.

Homemade bread was common. I made several loaves at a time using an Amish recipe.I'd put it together around 5 AM and it would be ready to bake by 7-7:30 so I could have it done and cooling before I went to work at 8:30.If I was really with it I would make some on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to ease the work load for the week.

Noodles was a way to fill the tummies with very little. Some flour, salt and egg mixed together, rested, rolled, rested and cut.You can make enough noodles for a family of four with a couple cups of flour and a couple eggs. I would cooked them in beef broth(made from the scraps of bones or roast)or poultry broth (made from the carcus of the bird) or just water flavored with beef or poultry fat. Yes I said FAT. When you are poor you waste nothing. I would cool the broth,skim the hardened fat and freeze it. We didn't eat a lot of fat to begin with and a tablespoon or so in a dish that served a large family wasn't going to do damage.Now days I would also include vegetable broth made from the peelings of veggies that I use. A big thanks to Gayle over at Just make sure the broth or water tastes like sea water(yes, that salty) BEFORE you add the the noodles. I have 2 kids that will make homemade noodles now.

Vegetable soup was made from a couple cups of beef broth that came from a pot roast along with any of the meat and veggies that didn't get ate from the last few days. I would toss a couple cans of mixed vegetables or what ever I had on hand, a can of tomato soup and a large can of tomato juice. Sometimes I added more tomato juice if we had a large crowd with the kids friends. I will do this now days with poultry also especially for hubby and myself as I will over load us with poultry broth if I'm not careful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

starting with meats

Meat was only bought if it was on sale and I could make at least two meals out of it. I always tried to squeeze a third if not four meals out of the meat.When you are feeding a large family of seven plus friends that are meat and potato folks that are big eaters ( I have a friend that calls me a truck driver because I eat like one). Squeezing an extra meal out of meat is a miracle to being with.

I tried to get a roast of some sort every week. Preferrable chicken or beef. It took four chickens or one good size turkey, (I have a daughter that still cringes when she sees turkey on the table besides at the holidays) to feed us one meal.I would then simmer the carcuss in the stock pot and pick the rest of the meat off the bones. This would be split between broth and meat for homemade noodles(flour,salt,eggs),chicken (or turkey) dumplings and if I was lucky a pot of soup with what ever veggies was in the crisper along with either some rice(not instant) or pasta.If there was enough meat to make a stir fry I would go that way.

A beef roast started with root veggies.Second time was either with noodles(the kids preference) or beef vegetable soup.Sometimes there was enough for stew instead of soup. I would add dumplings to make the stew stretch or put the "stew" in a pie shell and make pot pie instead.

Pork roast was with root veggies, then shredded and tossed with BBQ sauce.Now days I would save some back to make Brunswick stew.

If we got a ham, I roasted it and we had that the first round, then sliced and diced it up for ham steaks, ham sandwiches, ham salad, diced ham for eggs, salads and the bone for bean soups. I can make a lot of meals out of ham.

Hamburger went to meatloaves that followed was sliced cold for sandwiches later and what ever was left went into red sauce for pasta.

I tried to cook ten pounds of hamburger for sloppy joes made from scratch and taco meat made from scratch. It let me keep the sodium and sugar levels down.Sloppy joes also made sheppards pie while taco meat ranged from tacos to enchilidas, burritos,taco casserole and added to cheese to make dips.

I made chili from hamburger(hubby does from sausage), it would make chili soup, then walking tacos, the Cinncy chili over pasta, then taco salad, or even nachos or a casserole with chili with corn bread baked on top, kind of like a tamale pie?

Pork chops,pork steaks, beef steaks etc wasn't on the table much. Couldn't afford the price with how much we needed to put on the table.

Staples in the home

We have went thru the sleet,freezing rain and snow right along with those howling winds.The roads are not something to be out and about on yet.

Landlord brought over a generator so the steers in the barn would have water, which means we get water also. Something city folks take for granted is having water when they don't have power.

Even so I stocked water for flushing toilets,cooking/drinking and made several pots of coffee to put in the thermos we have. Just encase we can't get out to the generator to turn it on.

BUT the worst thing I have dealt with is a child calling me telling me they are low on groceries and aren't sure they will have enough to eat before they can get back to the store. First part of that is my immediate reaction to load up my car with food and haul it over an hour(none of the kids live closer than an hour) and FEED MY CHILD.

The second part wants to kick their rear because I preach,nag and so forth about keeping certain foods in the house at all times.

The following is the main list. It is what I call my basic staples. You don't see Bisquick or anything like that. That is on hubby's basic staples list.LOL

Flour, all purpose and bread if you can afford it also
corn meal
rice, not instant
oats, not instant
cream of wheat
pasta of any kind
yeast, keep it in the freezer
eggs, large
corn starch
baking soda
baking powder
worchestershire sauce
soy sauce
apple cider vinegar
lemon juice
salt and pepper
cream of tartar
chili powder
garlic powder,fresh if you can afford it and will use it.(jar in frig in not bulbs)
onion powder, dehydrated onions, fresh onions if you will use them
basil, dried
bay leaf,dried
thyme, dried
brown sugar
maple syrup or karo syrup or both if possible
oil, canola and olive or at least vegetable oil
lard...I do not use shortening for health reason. Lard doesn't bother my chorlesterol
butter... another one that I only use
milk,dry milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk
sour cream
velvetta,American cheese or mild cheddar,cream cheese
dried or Michigan, pinto, kidney and black
tomato juice
tomato sauce
14 veggies of different colors not just corn and green beans
7 fruits, not just bananas and apples
popcorn, at one time it was microwave when it was just mine then hubby added regular popcorn. Now I wouldn't feed microwave popcorn to my family since I know it's not good for them to be eating those tryglycerides.

Tomorrow I will start telling what I would cook from this list as I did when I was raising our children and money was really tight