Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bare Bones Meals: Using Up Leftovers

Every January, I try to do some kind of Pantry Challenge. In other words, use as much of the foodstuffs in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer -- and keep purchases to a minimum. I usually only buy milk and butter -- and any Really Good Sale, clearance or scratch-and-dent items I can get my hands on.

This year, bad weather, dealing with the flu, and taking care of Daughter #1 have cut back any chance to go grocery shopping, let alone any desire to do so. That's meant that I take extra care to use what I've got.

Including leftovers. 

You know -- the spoonful or two of leftover beef...or the saucer of corn...or the small cup of soup. Or the stuff that wasn't that good, to begin with. (There's usually LOTS of that left.)

Here are some things I do --

*Get rid of the mediocre food -- either give it to the dogs on top of their food, or throw it to the chickens. Otherwise, it just takes up space in the fridge while it slowly goes bad. (I've learned this the hard way.)

*Chop up fruit, and use it in pancakes, waffles and on top of ice cream. (If it's apples, I just make a large batch of applesauce.)

*Chop up and/or slice veggies, then store them in a snap-top container with a little water. That way, they're ready to use at a moment's notice, for stirfry, soup or an impromptu snack.

*Mix soups together....especially if they have some kind of common denominator, like chicken broth. Add in any leftover veggies or starches, while you're at it. (Leftover rice, clam chowder and potato soup complement each other nicely, for example.)

*Chop up and grate the bits and pieces of cheese you've found, and use them for mac and cheese, a cheesy snack...or sprinkle on soups and stews for an extra protein and flavor kick. (Several cheeses can give a much better result than one, provided they're not one of the smelly types, like Limburger or blue cheese.)

Or try this dish, inspired by a recent doggie bag from a barbecue restaurant. It contained baked beans and a handful or so of pulled pork. (Dogs Charley and Abby scarfed down the french fries.)
     A few onion hamburger buns were in the fridge as well, along with a quarter-pound of sausage. Mixed together, they became:


1/4- 1/2 pound of bulk sausage (or hamburger)
a handful or so of chopped or pulled pork, beef (chicken or turkey should work, as well)
1-2 cups baked beans (or that half-can of leftover pork and beans that's been sitting in the fridge)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I'm partial to Baby Ray's)
tag ends of veggies, chopped fine -- onions and green pepper, especially
1 bun per person

Fry the raw meat, breaking it up as it cooks. (Add the veggies here too.) Add any cooked meats, plus the beans and sauce -- heat gently until bubbling. Spoon onto buns, and serve, along with a green salad.  (You should have enough to feed four easily.)
    If you've STILL got leftovers (!!!), spoon the mixture onto a bun, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute, and you've got a good hot sandwich for lunch the next day. (Or wrap in foil and freeze -- bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 min.)

Or try this version, from just add extras

You might enjoy this earlier post on leftovers, via yours truly's 'other' blog. might just find that the leftovers are actually tastier than the original!

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