Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saving Up

I’ve always been a compulsive pack rat. It’s almost inevitable when one of your obsessions is crafting—save the fabric scraps, maybe you can use ‘em in a quilt. Those little pieces of yarn? You might be able to use them as stitch markers for your knitting. Little bits of paper left over from making Valentines? You could use them in another card!

Now that I’m keeping a closer eye over our food expenditures, I find myself doing the same while cooking. A roast chicken recently made a nice dinner. The extra meat was stripped off the bones so I could freeze the carcass for making stock later. The extra meat found its way into sandwiches and a chicken casserole, made with leftover frozen veggies, a quick milk and mushroom roux and some sautéed onion, celery and pasta. The extra onion and celery went into this morning’s scrambled eggs. The piece of bacon I didn’t end up eating with my eggs made it into a grilled cheese sandwich.

Naturally if you lose track of all the little items you save, you can have some scary results in the fridge. But that little bit-by-bit chipping away of leftovers can make a difference in the grocery bill. The chicken casserole alone resulted in 2 dinners I hadn’t planned on, extending my menu planning and creating a quick-heat meal to enjoy in the next day or two.

It’s also good to keep a few items on hand that allow for easy folding-in of leftovers. Quesadillas are a great way to use up leftover meat—scatter in some cheese and a bit of chopped jalepeno with the meat between 2 tortillas and heat on both sides in an oiled skillet and you’ve got a meal. Keeps eggs around for when you want to toss leftover ingredients into an omlet for a quick dinner.

And as usual, organizing works wonders. That may seem obvious, but given how disorganized I can be I’m constantly amazed by what can be accomplished by a list on the fridge to keep track of prepped food leftovers waiting to perk up or even make a dish.

Ok, now I’m getting hungry. What are your fave ways to use up leftovers?

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