January, the time for reeling in the spending, figuring new ways to save money and cleaning out the house AND freezer!

When you hear “Eat Local”, what do you think? Local beef, local produce from farms near you or the farmer’s market? This month eating local to me means eating out of the freezer and foraging for good greens and dandelions.

yummy salad with chickweed, dandelion leaves and flowers, purple dead nettle
yummy salad with chickweed, dandelion leaves and flowers, purple dead nettle

I cook a lot and now with only two people in the house, I have more leftovers that go in the freezer because I cannot yet just cook for two! The secret to having good leftovers and not wasting them is to freeze leftover food within 24 hours. If I make a big pot of soup or spaghetti sauce, I pack all but what we will eat over the next couple days in smallish containers so I can just grab a bowl of soup or quart of sauce and defrost. I had just enough Tom Kha soup in the freezer for one portion, hubby doesn’t care for it so he had leftover chicken pot pie with his burger. 🙂

salad with homemade ranch, turkey burger and tom kha soup
salad with homemade ranch, turkey burger and tom kha soup

There are three freezers in my house! I know that is nuts but one pretty much has breads, juices made from fresh fruits for jellies – gotta stop doing this – must… make… jelly. 😀 The kitchen freezer has all the immediate foods we use all the time, veggies, ice cream, small containers of leftovers, meats for the week and rice,flour and homemade bread crumbs. The basement freezer is where things go into long term storage which sometimes turns into really long term storage, more than two years!!! Yikes – although I have been keeping on top of this one now more than I have in the past.

Here are some ideas for using up leftover food:

Make soup – of course this is the #1 response to leftovers but sometimes people aren’t sure how to do it. First, check if there are any containers of chicken, beef or seafood broth anywhere in the freezer. Then figure what meats or seafood you have leftover in the fridge and veggies OR all veggies if making a vegetarian soup.

  • Examples:
  • Some kale that has started to wilt,
  • the stalks of the broccoli that someone(my hubby) won’t eat,
  • a half cup leftover peas, corn, mushrooms etc…
  • the couple of carrots that may be lingering in the bottom of the refrigerator
  • container of tomatoes, frozen or fresh – you know those last 8-10 grape tomatoes hanging around, not bad just not firm enough for salads
  • 1/2 onion from earlier in the week used in a stir fry
  • chicken breast from last nights meal
  • 1 cup of ground beef left from taco night
  • pasta from spaghetti two nights ago
  • mashed potatoes can become fried potato patties RECIPE in THIS post.
  • sweet potatoes, butternut squash, white beans, cooked cauliflower can all be blended separately and used in recipes of similar color. Check out the Sneaky Chef puree recipes HERE and more of these will be in my posts too – love her!

The secret to making a good soup is to pick a theme or flavor and add the ingredients that fit. AND season well!!!!

Chicken noodle soup – you would use broth, chicken, pasta, most veggies – except tomatoes, peppers. I personally love kale in any soup but add it towards the last 15 minutes of cooking. Anything goes for spices here!!! Homestyle – salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, dill, onion or Thai – salt, crushed red pepper, green chili paste, lemongrass, lime juice or add some tumeric and cumin and ginger for a warming Indian flare.

Seafood chowder – seafood broth(made from shrimp shells, clam juice), potatoes, tomatoes, veggies OR a cream based chowder with milk or half and half, onions, garlic, potatoes, clams or shrimp or any fish(only use cooked fish that is leftover for 1 day or fresh/frozen), lots of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper, go easy on the salt since the seafood broth may have just enough.

Taco Soup – chicken or beef or pork, veggies – just about any can go in this one! Definitely tomatoes, leftover sauce or chili, onions, peppers. Chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and dash of cayenne.

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup with zucchini

Tonight I am eating my whole wheat penne pasta alfredo with peas, chicken and mushrooms from last night – mmmmmm good!

Food-ul, Tue Aug 24, 2010, 12:04:48 PM,  8C, 6000x8000,  (0+0), 100%, bent 6 stops,  1/60 s, R111.4, G84.2, B101.0

Interesting post from the USDA – worth the read in this case, click HERE

Hope you all have a beautiful Day!

Anne-Marie

 

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