14 January 2009

Stretching one meal into two

I have to admit to being out of my routine with Christmas holidays and working on my book every day. I returned to work this week, and was happy to be back. I'm looking forward to a year full of work, both at home and at the Centre, that will enrich my spirit and lead me gently along this path I'm on. It will be a busy year, I know that already, but I'm up for it, and as my mother would say when she was very busy, "I least I know I'm alive."

I haven't had a chance to take any photos lately, so I just looked back to see if there are any here that I haven't used yet. There are a lot that don't seem to go together, and maybe I'll just use them all together one day for a post about nothing - a Seinfeld post. However, there was one little beauty that shot out at me and suggested a post about leftovers and stretching food. A worthy subject for a blog such as this.

We often eat according to what is growing in the garden at any particular time. Recently, we harvested about eight golden nugget pumpkins. Some were smaller that normal and some slightly larger. For those who are not familiar with this pumpkin, it is a small variety that's usually about the size of a small rockmelon (cantaloupe). They don't form a vine and instead grow to full maturity on a small bush. Whenever I have a nice pumpkin, I make pumpkin risotto. So we had our pumpkin risotto for an evening meal and had some leftover.

The next day we harvested six green capsicums (peppers) so I used the leftover risotto to make another delicious meal - stuffed capsicums. There are never real recipes for leftover meals, you use your imagination and combine flavours you know your family will like. Don't worry that you've never seen a meal like the one you're making before. That's the beauty of it, you make it up as you go, and as long as your family enjoys it and eats up every last crumb, it's a success. So, to make up my stuffed caps, I washed the capsicums, cut them into two equal halves, scooped out the seeds and membranes and filled the little cups with a large spoon full of pumpkin risotto. There was already Parmesan cheese in the rice so I didn't have to add anything else. I put it in the oven for 20 minutes and out it came, all golden and crispy on the top. Delicious, easy, fast and frugal.

Stretching one meal into two is a great way to cut costs. Stretching food and eating leftovers was common back in our grandmothers' day and it can be used now by those people who are making the most of every dollar they have. I often cook knowing I will have enough for at least two meals for the two of us.

Do you have a little bit of corned or roast beef left over? Cook some potatoes, fry a finely diced onion, mash the potatoes, add the onion, cut up the beef into little cubes and add it, add an egg and salt and pepper. Form it into flat fritters and fry in hot oil until golden. They would serve you quite nicely with a fresh garden salad, or on a piece of homemade bread with a slice of tomato and lettuce.

What about that roast chicken you cooked yesterday. It's still got a little bit of meat on the bones, but not enough to serve four hungry people. No worries! Strip the meat from the bones and put it aside. Add the chicken bones to a pot of water, about 1.5 litres (quarts), add salt and pepper and whatever herbs you have, and a chopped onion. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Look in the fridge and garden for some vegetables and chop up what you find - maybe a zucchini, celery, pumpkin or potato, green beans - whatever your family likes. Add these to the soup and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes. Five minutes before it's ready, add the chopped chicken meat. Test taste for seasoning.

A nice addition to any soup is herb dumplings. You would add dumplings just after you add the vegetables and the soup has returned to the boil.

2 cups of self raising flour OR 2 cups of plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder added.
salt and pepper
Rub into the flour about two tablespoons of softish butter. Rub the butter in with your finger tips, just like you would when making scones (biscuits), until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Chopped parsley or chives
Add enough water to make a firm dough.
Forms small balls and drop them into the soup. The dumplings will cook on the top of the soup. They will take about 15 - 20 minutes to cook, so add then just after you add the vegies.

And now I'm looking froward to reading about your favourite leftover meal.


  1. A lot of times I will just take all of our leftovers out of the fridge and set them on the counter. Then, everyone in my family will take a dinner plate and go through buffet style, scooping out what they want. I then microwave each plate instead of heating up a bunch of smaller bowls. We revisit supper from each night of the week! Soups made from the various leftover meats and vegies are great and I will add rice or egg noodles to stretch them out. Omelets made with leftover meats and fresh vegies from the garden in season are great, too! Great post!


  2. I love these ideas! :) Thank you!

    I love trying to rework leftovers. I'll make pizza dough in my bread maker and split it in two. One night it's pizza. Then I can freeze the other or, the next night, I'll pull some leftover chopped up ham out of the freezer, throw that and some mozzerella on the dough, roll it up, bake it, and end up with a nice finger meal of melted ham and cheese roll. That and I love to make random soups with everything I have lying around.

  3. We never have any real leftovers as hubby takes whatever is left over to work the next day for his lunch. On the weekends, like Friday nights dinner, I make pizzas and we have the leftover for lunch the next day and Saturday is hubby's steak night and if he has some leftover, he eats it the next morning with some fried potatoes. Since I don't eat red meat, I usually have some sort of fish on SAturday nights and only make enough for me, so no leftovers. It works out well.

  4. Now that we are getting into meal planning we try to plan meals that are going to use the same ingredients so we know ahead of time we can use leftovers from one to make another.

  5. i love leftovers and strech it out for many days...
    i had roast the other week, i had a few days of roast and potatoes, then i made some buritos out of some of the left overs..there was even a bit more and i made it in scrambled eggs,and fried potatoes so yummy..

  6. Good morning Rhonda,
    Firstly that photo of Hanno and the boys is so nice. What a handsome lot they are and no wonder you are such a proud Mum.
    Leftovers figure very strongly in our house and the idea of using the roast chicken bone carcass to make soup is such a good hint. I usually make our next days sandwiches from any left over chicken but now I can make lovely chick and vege soup as well. Talk about value adding. This is why I love to chat with you each day; I just learn so much from you and the other friends who comment.

    Blessings Gail

  7. I eat a lot of leftovers, too. As a single person, and now a Single Mom, when I cook it is for at least 2-4 people... so, I end up freezing what I don't eat, or reheating, or re-mealing them. :)

    Last night, I had leftover Chinese food, and I made my own fried rice with egg and soy sauce, and added the Broccoli and Chicken to it.

    I have black beans in the crock pot right now, and plan to make beans/rice, stuffed green peppers, and stuffed burritos this week with it. And, oh, I might have it as soup, too. :) That way we're eating all the beans, but in different ways.

    Just LOVE your blog. :)


  8. I'm still on 13th Jan here in the UK, but I made soup today from the leftover gravy that I cooked the lamb shanks in yesterday. I had cooked carrots, onions and parsnips in the slow cooker with the lamb, so all I had to do today was blitz it all with the stick blender and then boil it all up for 20 minutes and I had a lovely broth for lunch today.

    Fantastic ideas, Rhonda - thanks.


  9. Good morning Rhonda. Like Laurie and bahuman we rarely have leftovers but, if we do, they usually become the next day's lunch or are frozen as a one-off meal. I do like your suggestions though!

    The one-off meal becomes a lunch or a single portion dinner. I have two elderly people in my household, so if two or three of us are out one night, I have a dinner on hand to heat for someone.

    May I also suggest planned overs as part of the discussion? I find cooking a double batch (if it's food that freezes well), saves power and can be a lifesaver on busy evenings. Planned overs mean I don't even consider takeaway with all its negative characteristics.

  10. Sometimes I will deliberately cook corned beef just to make corned beef hash the next day, yum!! I use the same ingredients you use for the fritters but in a slightly different way, and the egg gets fried or poached and served on top.
    Its really interesting seeing how other folk deal with their leftovers.
    take care

  11. We always use up leftovers, but I take this concept even further.I learned years ago that it is more economical to buy a large cut of meat and make several meals from it. Often larger cuts like hams, turkeys and beef roasts go on sale simply because many cooks don't want to deal with all of it. People would rather have the convenience of meat that is all boned, skinned and cut up like chicken breasts, but they pay a premium price for it. For example, a ham purchased on sale provides one meal as a roast, another as ham slices with pineapple sauce, another as ham fried rice or scalloped potatoes with ham, then the bone becomes a base for split pea soup. Cooked meat can be frozen in the portions needed so that you can spread it out rather than have nothing but ham for an entire week. The same idea works with whole chickens, turkey, pork roast or any large cut of meat. It takes planning and a little work, but is well worth it.


  12. Hello Rhonda, we love leftovers too :)

    I can't think of a favourite recipe, but egg-type dishes (quiche, omlette etc) are delicious fridge-cleaner-outers.

    We eat a lot of soup through the cooler months. Recently I came across a way of making dumplings using leftover bread; it was so easy and delicious that we will probably make them this way from now on - it simply uses old breadcrumbs, with any tasty add-ons - like herbs, olives, cheese - and is bound together with an egg. Rolled into balls and cooked in the soup before serving. Very light and tasty.

  13. Savoury or fried rice, using leftover rice (from the day before or the freezer as it freezes well )is great as a base for adding practically any assortment of leftover bits and pieces. I also use Amy's universal muffin recipe from her Tightwad Gazette which also allows you to use all sorts of things in it, depending on what you have, even leftover porridge.( It worked!) We used to joke that anything left lying around long enough would end up in a muffin!

    I also always save any small amounts of leftover gravy and freeze as it's a great addition to leftover concoctions.

    Thanks, Desiree for your leftover pizza dough idea- I think my kids would love that and I could hide all sorts of little extras in there too that might just get picked off a pizza.

  14. Ha! Great minds think alike. I have a post planned on this topic for next week. Reusing leftovers is a great way to stretch a dollar and avoid food waste, which is rampant in the Western world. Thanks for the suggestions. I'll link to this post when I write my own on the topic.

  15. We never have much in the way of leftovers to be inventive with because I usually plan my meals to include extra portions for my husband's lunches. He doesn't eat sandwiches, so it's the simplest alternative to buying his lunch every day. Anything which freezes goes into the deepfreeze and anything which doesn't we just eat the next day.

  16. My husband's favorite is barbecue pulled pork. I take a pork shoulder roast and braise it all day until it falls off the bone, then make a homemade barbecue sauce with the reduced liquids and it is a fabulous pork roast with cornbread and greens the first night. The next day it is Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches with sweet pickles. The next day after that is Barbecue pulled pork pizza one homemade crust with caramelized onions and a little cilantro on top. I make a batch of pizza dough just as another post said, and freeze the leftover dough balls and then I can have leftover anything pizza. Chicken Thai pizza, (Shredded chicken with a peanut sauce, bean sprouts and cilantro) or just plain veggie pizza with leftover veggies. One of my favorites in the summertime is roasted peppers and goat cheese. Fresh pizza is the better than the Pizza Man can ever deliver, and ever since I traveled to Italy I have an appreciation for the thinner crust stone baked variety that is easy to make at home. My pizza stone is very busy! Yum!

  17. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Love this post. Often I cook 2 dishes, freeze one for a busy day.
    I make pot. patties from left over creamed pots. , pinto bean patties from left over pinto beans, Shepherds pie, sometimes I fill peppers with mac/cheese, or cream pots.topped with shredded cheese and bake. I stretch alot of other foods also!
    HAve a greta day!

  18. hello Rhonda!

    mmm leftovers.

    We put a bit extra liquid and veggies when making a big casserole in the oven ( or is it a stew if its in the oven and a casserole if on the stove top?)
    ANYWAY...we then have left over stock and veggies ( and shreds of whatever meat we had in the pot)...which makes the most wonderful soup...or even ( if LOTS of veg )...a veggie stew next day with some added carbs ( aked spud/noodles/rice/pasta/bread...ANDa thin-ish soup.....

    Sometimes I make a big enough pot that we get a good meal for 3 AND another meal the next day of veg stew plus a carb on the side.....AND several servings of soup to freeze.

    We LOVE leftovers here, how else could we have spanish omelettes or bubble n squeek, or fried spuds and bacon or eggs...?

    LOVE getting lots of meals from one lot of cooking! ( I am a bit lazy I think...!)

  19. Beautiful family, Rhonda:)

    One of my favorites is lamb curry out of the leftover lamb roasts. Onion and garlic, curry powder (or coriander, turmeric, garam masala, ginger, and dash of red pepper), canned or fresh or dried tomatoes. Simmer with the lamb bits and bone. Serve over brown rice/couscous/noodles/what have you with a topping of plain yoghurt. Yum! We always have lamb in the freezer (because we raise sheep) but I think the curry would be good with beef or pork leftovers, too.

  20. I have never understood the "Cooking for 2" recipes and magazines I see offered.

    I cook as I used to and look forward to knowing there are leftovers in the frig. :)

    Sigh, it is so nice to think of green things and growing plants. My world is still black, white, and grey... and COLD.

    It has a beauty all its' own but by January, I am ready for a little more color, not to mention warmth.

  21. I love left overs, my imagination runs wild sometimes with what I can do with them. Something simple is make up a scone mixture, roll it out and then spoon over what left overs you have it could be left over spaghetti meat balls, beef stew etc then roll it up like a sausage and bake it for 20mins mod oven.

  22. We’re very into rubber chicken on the www.moneysavingsexpert.co.uk old style forum; :)

    I plan for leftovers, so if I’m cooking mashed potato I will cook extra and use some for shepherds pie topping, or fish cakes or something next day. I freeze anything I cant use immediately – one of the treasures in my freezer at the moment is half a piece of cooked smoked haddock which I will take out one day and make fish cakes.

    My absolute favourite leftover is bubble and squeak – left over cooked vegetables mixed/mashed together and fried till crispy brown on the bottom, then turn over and brown the other side. This is especially good served with a fried egg or two. I remember many years ago the UK papers were full of the fact that Princes Anne (now the Princess Royal) loved bubble and squeak – but of course the potatoes and veg were cooked fresh for her, no leftovers if you’re royal :)

  23. I was wondering if you could tell me what the very last picture on your sidebar is?
    Thanks, from Pam in Texas, USA

  24. Thanks for these wonderful suggestions, Rhonda! I have been wondering this myself recently, so I needed the help. :) Your pumpkin risotto sounds delicious, too; reminds me that I still have risotto rice and breadcrumbs in the cupboard, and pumpkin in the fridge to be used! Your post made me think of making crumbed risotto balls stuffed with roasted pumpkin & parmesan cheese. Yum! :)

  25. I recently found a way to stretch my veggies even further: I use vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock. As I'm cooking, I wash and save all of my vegetable scraps in a container in the freezer. When I have enough, I defrost them and put them in a pot with a tsp of black peppercorns and a bay leaf and simmer for an hour. It makes great stock that you can use immediately or freeze for later - all made out of scraps that had been destined for the compost.

  26. This past Thanksgiving we had the pleasure of joining my neice and nephes at their home for dinner. I usually cook it for my three girls and myself. This year though I waited until my next day off and cooked the traditional meal we have for Thanksgiving...mainly so we would have the leftovers for a while. There are many, many things that can be made after our Thanksgiving meal!

  27. Leftovers are a standby at our house. We have leftover buffet sometimes. Other time I use letover beef or pork roast for shepherds pie (sweet potatoes on top for pork),pulled meat bbq sandwiches or baked potatoes, and of course a lovely soup. Tonight a friend brought over my faovrite recipe for roasted red pepper and tomato soup because i have injured my neck. Tomorrow it will find pasta and chicken in it for the rest of the family.
    I love leftovers....I count on them!
    Stephanie from Texas
    ps the pic of the boys brings a smile to my face. I have 3 boys of my own and the youngest is a cotton top. Boys are such a good time!!

  28. Hi...this doesn't relate to your current post but I simply had to thank you!! I've been a regular reader for sometime, grabbing the odd recipe here & then, getting advice on cleaning tips etc etc. It all become very apparent your influence on my lifestyle the other day when I whipped up some bread using your recipe, then prepped some yoghurt using your recipe, did some cleaning using the liquid soap, bicarb soda in a salt shaker & vinegar in a spray bottle I used based on one of your many posts. Plus there are so many more things that you have inspired in my life...so thank you!!

  29. Hello everyone. thanks for the great suggestions for leftovers.

    Pam from Texas, that photo is of chokos. You might know them as chayote. You can read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chayote

    Stephanie from Texas, I've never heard the term 'cotton top' before. What does it mean? Here we call kids with red hair 'carrot top', is a cotton top blonde?

  30. hi.
    My husband works every second night,I cook double, so we always have planned overs. That way he has a meal to take to work the next night and I don't have to cook for just myself and my son. Also Jaffles, or toasted sandwiches are great for using up little portions of casseroles and curries.
    Sometimes we end up with one slice of bread, or the crusts left over. I save these in the freezer. Sometimes they get blitzed for bread crumbs, or toasted, rubbed with a clove of garlic and cut into small pieces for croutons, for salads, or soup.

  31. Great post! Thank you. We plan to make enough for leftovers. DH takes leftovers for lunch and will lovingly eat anything I need to finish up. He calls himself the human billy goat :) We too, do a lot of homemade pizza with leftover toppings. Thanks for the new ideas.

    cathy c

  32. Wow. I can't say enough about your wonderful blog! I found it on Monday(I am new to this whole blog thing!) and I spent the past two days reading through all your older posts. I new just by looking at all your pictures, you would be a great ispiration to me. Especially when I saw the Tightwad Gazzete in your pile of books! That book started me in a simpler lifestyle. We moved to West Virginia from Connecticut almost 2 years ago in search of a simpler life. We have chickens and goats and a very large garden! I just know your blog will prove extremely helpful in the upcoming year. Can't wait to try your yogurt and soap recipes when our goats have babies next month!! Thanks so much for sharing your life with all of us! Sincerely, Tara

  33. My family doesn't like leftovers but that doesn't mean I waste food. I try to cook for exactly one meal usually and if I have leftovers at all, it becomes lunch the next day.However, I seem to always make too much rice so I try to not throw this out. I have made the rice into savory pie crust (basically you chop herbs, crush garlic, add an egg and any spices you like along with Parmesan cheese then pat it into a lightly greased pie pan, about half an inch thick. Then you pre-bake it on 350 Fahrenheit, until the crust is crispy. Let cool and fill with favorite savory recipe then follow the directions for baking the filling from there. Another favorite is using rise with eggs and is called OMURICE. There are many variations to this one.

  34. "cotton tops" are children with white blonde hair. I guess we live too close to cotton country!

  35. Rhonda IT's Debra Lynn I have a recipe for snow cream .A Bowl of clean snow 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla 4 Tablespoons of sugar and 3tablespoons of cream mix and enjoy. my mother made this for us when a big snow was on. make sure you pick a spot where the snow is clean we would get it from a big fresh snow drift outside our kitchen doorway.

  36. Rhonda when I make chicken I will use the rest for chicken dumpling, tacos, chili, chicken nachos, and even add it to vegetable soup.easy chicken saled. Take 1/2 cup grilled or baked chix 1/2 cup low sour cream 1/2 cup cucumbers peeled and diced 1/2 celery diced1/4 teaspoon of dill spice dash of salt dash of pepper.mix put open faced on toasted whole wheat bread serve with melon cubes on the side for a low calorie lunch that will leave you feeling fresh and full. Debra Lynn

  37. Brilliant. I do this a lot with lentils, soups etc. Thanks for the dumpling info I've been craving these for ages!

  38. Not much that we eat can't be chopped fine, mixed with mash and baked in a muffin pan.

  39. This is my secret! :) Always - always - always - cook once, eat twice (or more!!!) I say this and there are 8 of us and with my parents makes 10 so I cook for a big group and still cook once and eat twice!

  40. This inspired me to post a creative leftovers post of my own at my blog... :-)

  41. I almost prefer my leftover meal from the roast beef than the roast itself: dice the cold beef, sprinkle rosemary, mix up cornflour and Massell stock powder, pour over meat. This week I cut mushrooms and added it, then bake as a casserole. Delicious. Would make a wonderful pie filling too.

  42. Ah, bung-it cookery at it's best, you take what you have and bung-it together in an edible fashion!

    I do a mean mince pizza. Make your usual pizza dough, take what is barely a portion for one of left-over mince in gravy, spread it out on the pizza dough with whatever vegetables you care to add, top with grated cheese, and a very filling meal for 4 or more . . .

    Your fried patties using any leftover bits of meat sound a bit like the English Bubble-and-Squeak, which is leftover mashed potato, cabbage and any extras you may want to add, fried up - unshaped - and a good Monday night standby . . .

  43. Hello,
    When baking a Beef large roast I will braise it and convection oven roast it, at the end add many root veggies to the decreased drippings while the roast is resting. Rest the roast before slicing to conserve the moist juices. Save some of the clear juices for the dip on day 2

    Drizzle olive oil and sea salt and roast lots of veggies for an hour or so. Cutting your root veggies smaller will cause them to cook faster with less energy usage. Be sure you leave the veggies a dente'(do not over cook them) see that they have a firm bite. Roast a few garlic heads in the hot oven.

    1) thin sliced roast home made horse radish, with veggies sour cream and butter bread and such. Make a gravy from the drippings minus the fats (defatted through separation)

    2)next day. thin sliced Roast beef with ajou dip (made with a bit of the beef broth and coffee and spices) for lunch with horse radish spread. a side salad

    3)skip a day. dice the thickly sliced portion of roast( half of the roast sliced thin half thick),
    cube left over veggies and add gravy and herbs for roast beef stew. Serve with the bread turned into garlic bread (spread with butter and salt with garlic salt or roasted garlic paste)

    4) Sunday breakfast of diced potatoes (left over or fresh), beef, curry and onion. crack an egg over top. Cover with a lid and steam the egg. Serve with toasted bread.

    This is also do this when roasting a large leg of Lamb, or a whole chicken.
    With the beef however it really helps to heat a pan hot, THEN add oil let it get hot, then brown all sides of beef roast to hold in the juices while roasting.

  44. Recently came across your blog and enjoy reading what all you share here.

    From last night's meal, we had some leftover meatloaf and most of that went into hubby's sandwich for lunch (his favored sandwich of all). The little bit left went into the skillet, to which I added a couple eggs and fried up together, then plopped into a sandwich for me too. Yum!!

    With most of our family grown and gone, we do not have very many leftovers, unless so planned. I do try to have some left for daughter to eat for breakfast the next morn if possible (she has allergies to most breakfast foods). Of course, when doing turkey, whole chickens etc. we have quite a lot left for other meals, which go into the freezer.

  45. I had forgotten that Golden Nuggets are bush pumpkins! We're short of vegie garden space here and my in-ground pumpkins aren't surviving the heat. I may try some Golden Nuggets and see if they do better!

    Could you post your recipe for Pumpkin Risotto please?

  46. They look very tasty, I must try them sometime. I hate to throw away food especially when good quality ingredients are expensive & it seems to me to be obscene to throw food away when there are people who do not have enough to eat.

    Permanent Makeup can save money too!

  47. Great post and ideas...

    Talk about stretching a meal...we've been seeing what it's like eating on just a buck a day.

    We are on Day 18 and doing well, but what an eye opener this has been with respect to overall consumption, portions, waste, etc.

    We invite everyone to track our progress:


    We are using this as an educational tool as well as to raise funds for my upcoming missions trip to Zambia.



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