Working with what you’ve got

Sometimes I get the feeling that we are loosing the art of making do. That is, making the most out of whats in the fridge or pantry. Let me explain…with so many services out there now that package up your meals into convenient ready to cook packages complete with recipes, we are finding ourselves in a culture of convenience.

Then you’ve got cooking shows that promote delicious gourmet foods with very specific ingredients that are not necessarily in season at the time you see them. While it’s great to have these to provide quick and easy inspiration, they can sometimes be a costly way to cook and also so specific that we are loosing the art of making do.

For example take the humble cabbage, readily available in winter for a reasonable price usually anywhere between $1.99 and $3.99 each. Last week I brought a cabbage and took it home and said to myself “I’m going to use this whole thing” and I did. I had cabbage stir fried in my mince chow mein. I had it sauteed to go with my Casserole, I made coleslaw to go with my steak and then I chucked the rest in a big pot of vegetable soup this morning! That’s four meals out of that one cabbage (even at $3.99 each that’s only $1 a meal).

Pumpkin is another excellent winter staple. Have it roasted with your favourite meat then use the leftover meat and pumpkin to make a quiche the next day (chuck in some feta and its just about gourmet). Then if you still have half a pumpkin left you can make soup!

On the flip side my husband does get a bit frustrated because I can never replicate the same recipe twice because I’m making it up as I go, but I reckon it all adds to the fun!

Today I looked in the fridge to find half a cabbage some purple and yellow carrots, onions, half a bulb of garlic and a couple of kumara and a shriveled up courgette that I should have used a long time ago. I quickly peeled, chopped and chucked them all in the slow cooker with some stock and some bacon bones and left for work. I’m now excited to see what colour it will turn when it cooks (purple carrots and purple kumara).

I don’t know about you, but I get a real sense of satisfaction in using up items I have brought that would otherwise go to waste.

The thing is it is simply too easy for us to say “I want to eat this tonight” and go off to the store, than it is to go to the fridge and say “ok this is what I’ve got what can I make work”

Tell me what neat trick do you have for using up you veg or getting the most out of a particular product?




2 responses to “Working with what you’ve got

  1. My “lazy” dinner favourite is any veges but onion needs to be one – fry the onion, garlic and ginger also if liked, then add lots of left over cooked veges ( I even added cooked rice last time and any cooked meat. Beat up some eggs – maybe two per person, pour over the veges and cook with the lid on but vented until all the egg is cooked. Different everytime but always yummy.

  2. I love pickling my own veg. When there’s a big special on carrots, or cucumbers, or cabbage, I slice them up and stick ’em in sterilised jars with a simple mix of vinegar, salt and water. I just love the crunch and vitality of a home made pickle. It makes your veg last longer, and it’s great for vinegar lovers like me 🙂

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