Saving Time at Suppertime

As we continue on without our still-awaited-for dishwasher, I have been spending a bit more time than usual washing things by hand. Consequently, I am doing my best to make mealtime prep easier without succumbing to the very attractive alternative of eating out. I really can’t afford it this month, given I put a hefty chunk of my budget toward the dishwasher, and also having purchased a most wonderful chair and ottoman at a consignment store, pictures of which I hope to show you soon.

So, we have continued to eat meals at home. And, we have begun using some paper/plasticware for simplicity’s sake. Most of all, I have really put thought into making meal components stretch over several meals, so I don’t spend all my waking hours in the kitchen! Making main ingredients work for more than one recipe is an easy concept that I should have employed more often, even with a dishwasher. I’m learning that one can make two very different meals without doing a lot of extra cooking the second time. And enjoying two separate dishes is really nicer than just eating the same meal twice as often in the same week.

So, when I brown ground beef and onions, I use part of it to create a sloppy joe supper, and serve the rest a couple nights later spiced with taco seasonings, and coupled with appropriate toppings in crunchy corn tortillas.

The roast chicken we enjoyed on Sunday with rice on the side becomes “Tricia’s Chipotle Bowls”: rice topped with that delicious flavorful chicken, beans, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, and guac.

Monday night’s extra side salad I prepared (undressed) becomes the base for Tuesday’s lunch: add dry tuna, black beans and some crushed pepper crackers, top with a viniagrette.

Tuesday night I made eggs and bacon, purposefully cooking some extra bacon which I next day chopped and added to softened cream cheese along with scallions, peppers, and broccoli, to spread inside tortillas for a quick, no-cook supper before we headed out to Wednesday night church stuff. (By the way, Jay and I LOVED these tortilla wraps, but the kids were not huge fans.)

My next idea involves using this recipe from Ann (which I really excited to try, substituting my rice noodles we purchased at a local Asian grocery store during a recent family field trip, in place of the pasta it calls for) to create supper, and then using the leftover chicken for a dinner salad the next night.

So….how about a little reader participation? Do you have any ways to make your meal ingredients go further, and thereby lessen your work in the kitchen, but still enjoy a variety of homecooked meals? Please share! I know there are plenty of people out there better at this than I am, and given we have a few more weeks to go without our washer, well, I can use any tips you have!

4 Comments

  1. Peter
    Sep 28, 2007

    Making main ingredients work for more than one recipe is an easy concept that I should have employed more often

    You have learned well the lesson of Taco Bell.

  2. Tricia
    Sep 28, 2007

    Pete, thanks for the big chuckle early in the morning! You are so funny!

  3. Elizabeth Polak
    Oct 1, 2007

    I did this yesterday and today. Sunday was chicken in the slowcooker with potatoes and carrots. Today I made a white sauce with green peppers and gravy, using the juices in the slow cooker and adding some milk and the leftover chicken pieces. We ate it on top of home made biscuits. I didn’t think the kids were that hungry, but there wasn’t anything left over!

  4. Teresa
    Oct 10, 2007

    Sometimes I’ll make a large pot of pinto beans to eat for dinner one night, and the next night I’ll mash the beans for tostadas or burritos. The rest of the beans I freeze in ziplock bags with each bag holding a premeasured amount of 1 1/2 cups (the approximate amount of 1 can of storebought beans). The next time a recipe calls for a can of beans, I can just use what I have in the freezer.

    A few times I’ve used leftover, browned hamburger meat (in our house it’s always either venison or elk) seasoned however you like it. Use this as the bottom layer in a casserole dish, then spread with a few bags (or cans) of pinto beans, and top with cornbread batter and cheddar cheese. Bake it in the oven until the cornbread is done. It’s hearty and very easy.