Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adventures in Frugality: Multi-Mealing

Most frugal souls out there will tell you that multi-mealing (I just made that up -- clever, eh? But I bet someone else beat me to it) is a subject that is near and dear to our hearts. You know, cook something once then make other meals with the leftovers. Since I like to get the most bang for my grocery buck, I tend to multi-meal whenever I can.

For example, I cooked up a mess of collards for New Year's. (Yes, I am the only one who eats them, but why not? Greens are good for you.) After eating them a couple of times as is, I tweaked them to make something a bit different. I drained a can of great northern beans, tossed that in with the collards, and then covered everything with some water. I stirred in some ham base and onions. Ta da! Soup!

That was no big deal. A couple of days ago, I oven-roasted a nice, bone-in pork shoulder, which I'd bought on sale. Despite my following the directions, it was not cooked through at suppertime; so I sliced off some, zapped it in the microwave for a minute, and we ate it for supper. The next day, I put the remaining roast in my cast iron Dutch oven, poured in two cups of water, and put it in a 325 degree oven for a few hours.

Friends, it was amazing. It fell off the bone and was so meltingly tender I nearly swooned. I shredded the meat, which we ate on buns with barbecue sauce.

Two days later, I chopped some of the meat finely in my food processor and then added some of its broth and some spices: chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I didn't measure a thing. After heating the meat, I spooned some onto warm tortillas and served with chopped tomato, lettuce, taco sauce, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

I still have quite a bit of pork left, which I'm going to freeze. Talk about multi-mealing!

Now. Keep in mind that I have a smaller-sized family: two children, both of whom eat small helpings of most things except dessert and popcorn, and two adults. So I may get more meals than your family would.

Multi-mealing does require a bit of thought, but it becomes more natural the more you do it. With my multi-mealing perspective firmly in place, I now tend to re-think leftovers. Instead of simply serving that chicken again, as is, I might boil the meat off the bones (I detest picking meat off bones -- it grosses me out), which rewards me with a nice broth for soup (or cooking veggies) AND chicken, which I either use right away in a casserole, dumplings, or pot pie OR freeze for later use. Leftover spaghetti sauce gets tossed in the freezer for use in soup, chili, or as pizza sauce.

My guess is that you already know all this stuff. I grew up with parents who'd been raised on farms. Farm people multi-meal naturally. But for me, there was a gap between knowing it and making an intentional effort to do it.

Another bonus: throwing out spoiled leftovers that languished in the fridge for far too long is a wasteful thing of the past.

5 comments:

  1. Great ideas! I found your blog at the Homeschool bloggers haven yahoo group, and I'm so glad I did! I'm a new follower.

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  2. I have really started to do this as well. I tend to cook some meat at the beginning of the week for sandwiches. This way we avoid process lunch meats. I also tend to buy meat that has been marked down and the cook it and freeze. It works great for the quick meals.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Hi, Joi! Yes, all it takes is a bit of thought and planning. In the past, I haven't taken the time to actually plannfor multi-mealing, but now I do. And I'm glad! Thanks for the tips!

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  4. Pam, it's great to "meet" you! I look forward to more of your comments in the future.

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  5. LOL you nearly swooned...I love that word. :)

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