Save time, money with two-for-one dinners
photo by jbcurio
During my most frugal times, I discovered that creating a dinner that made two meals saved time and money. Think of it as planned leftovers or “Planovers”: One large meal doubles as a foundation for a second meal a.k.a. cook once, eat twice. Most people have a few recipes they enjoy after Thanksgiving for using up leftovers, such as turkey soup and open-faced hot turkey sandwiches. This is the same principle, but you purposely cook more versus simply having leftovers, and it’s a method you can use throughout the year.
I became proficient in planned leftovers out of necessity, but now I make these meals to be less wasteful and more efficient. If you write down all the meals you can create from leftovers, you’ll have a good start on creating a handy reference list. With this list, you can plan a menu that will streamline your food budget. Your planover can be served the next day or frozen to eat later. The best part is that your family won’t complain that they’re having the same old dinner again. You’ll be happy you took this low effort step on days you don’t feel like cooking, too.
Consider the following planned leftovers and how you can incorporate them into your family meals. If you have any additional ideas, let me know.
RICE: Made into fried rice or added to meatloaf or soups.
HAM: Diced for omelettes, mixed with macaroni and cheese, split pea soup, scalloped potatoes and ham salad.
MEATLOAF: Broken up for spaghetti and chili and sliced for sandwiches.
CHILI: Chili baked potatoes, chili over pasta, chili fries, tacos and chili dogs.
CHICKEN: Chicken sandwiches, chicken pot pie and chicken soup.
POT ROAST: Barbecued beef sandwiches, soup and stew.
STEAK: Fajitas, stir fry.
My favorite leftover makeover came about by accident, when I had some homemade creamed soup and discovered it could be served over pasta. I make a double batch, and we often eat our revitalized leftovers for lunch the next day. You may want to add your favorite herbs and spices to give it more flavor.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium chopped onion
1 chopped celery stalk
1 head of broccoli (florets)
3 cups chicken broth (we use bouillon paste)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
pepper and salt, to taste
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized pot, and saute onion and celery until tender.
Add half the broccoli and all of the broth, cover and simmer. Puree or mash soup and return to heat. Add remaining broccoli. Simmer.
In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir in flour and add milk. Whisk continuously until it’s a nice creamy consistency, and add it to the broccoli and broth mix. Whisk some more. Add pepper and salt to taste.
You can always add more butter, milk, flour, salt or pepper to get it to the desired texture. Add garlic or cubed potatoes, if you want. For a twist, add meltable cheese for broccoli-and-cheese soup. We use different mixed veggies such as carrots, asparagus and cauliflower, too. It’s best made with fresh vegetables, but works fine with frozen and canned. Served with crusty bread, it’s hearty and filling.
Promptly refrigerate leftover soup and use the leftovers within three days.
Planned Leftover Creamy Alfredo
Reheat soup, add 1/2 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. You can add chicken, too. Serve over fettucine, penne or rotini.