When you’re on a budget it’s important to make every penny, as well as every meal, count.
Most of us are also on a pretty tight schedule, with activities many nights of the week and a day-full as well, so meals that can be put together quickly are a real relief.
Quesadillas could also involve the kids in some preparation work if they’re home first after school.
Try to think ahead when planning meals so that the main dish you cook on the weekend leaves some left over meat that will be useful for a quick meal a day or two later, when life is busier.
So, leftovers from a roasted chicken, beef or pork roast can be sliced cold into strips and tossed into a green salad with cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes or whatever comes to hand for a meal in a bowl after a day at school and work.
But, you can get even more creative with some leftovers, and following are a couple of suggestions for ways you can extend that weekend meal to save you a bit of time during the week.
Remember too that leftover meat often freezes quite well, and can then be thawed another week to make a sloppy joe, creamy casserole or quesadilla for supper.
For more ideas for making over leftovers to make new meals, check out my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is available wherever books are sold, as well as a few places you might not think to look, like the B.C. Wine Museum in the historic Laurel Packinghouse.
Remember to include lots of the fresh from the field vegetables and fruits now available at the farmer’s markets, farm stands and produce markets. An extended season this year means we’re even luckier than usual with the huge variety of fall vegetables available for the plucking.
Many are terrific tucked into lunch bags for healthy snacks during the day as well.
Ham & Potato Pie
This is a great way to help use up leftover ham and it makes a different dish for the brunch table, a side dish for dinner (complete it with a salad) or breakfast for two. It’s crispy outside and full of flavour inside. Smoked ham flavours are generally complemented by a dry rose such as the Rigamarole Rose with its fruity flavours but crisp dry finish.
2 medium russet potatoes
1 medium onion
1 c. minced ham
3 tbsp. (45 ml) chives
drizzle of oil
1/3 c. (75 ml) plain yogurt
2 tbsp. (30 ml) flour
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) pepper
Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
Chop onion and mince ham and chives. (You could substitute green onions.)
Drizzle a little oil in a pan on medium heat and soften the onion. Add all but a spoonful of the minced ham and warm it through.
Coarsely grate the potatoes and squeeze out any moisture and discard it. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Then mix in the yogurt (I use fat-free), flour, salt, pepper and two spoonfuls of chives. Add potatoes, onions and ham and combine well.
Spray a large, deep pie pan or medium, shallow casserole dish with oil and press the potato mixture into it. Top with the remaining spoonful of minced ham.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F and bake for 50 minutes longer, or until the pie is brown on top.
Garnish with the remaining spoonful of chives or green onions and cut into wedges to serve.
We roasted a chicken one day and had some left over, so the next day, we made quesadillas for dinner. If you still have a bit of turkey meat lurking in your freezer, use it. Substitute whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and that interest you. Even let everyone make up their own fillings. You can use smaller tortillas and make more quesadillas too. Have a glass of the Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Major Allan Merlot with this. Its rich, plummy flavours are a good match with the barbecue sauced-chicken.
1 c. (250 ml) cooked chicken
2 tbsp. (30 ml) barbecue sauce
2 large green onions
1/2 c. (125 ml) mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. (60 ml) cheddar cheese
1/3 c.(75 ml) zucchini
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
salt and pepper
4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
Shred cooked chicken or turkey and coat with a favourite barbecue sauce. Set aside.
Slice green onions and grate some cheese. You could substitute Monterey Jack cheese or whatever is a favourite. Set aside.
Chop up half an onion, a couple of mushrooms, a few inches of zucchini and sweet peppers.
Drizzle a little oil in a frypan and soften the onion over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, then the zucchini and later, the chopped peppers. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt and pepper, to taste.
Set aside and heat a cast iron griddle or 8-inch frypan with a heavy bottom over medium-high heat.
Give it a light spray with oil and lay one of the tortillas down. Spread half the grated cheese evenly over it, then half the onion mixture and top with green onions and chicken.
Top with another tortilla and press down with a flipper.
Cook just until the bottom is brown and the cheese is melted and flip carefully to brown the other side.
Remove from the pan to a cutting board and slice into wedges. Serve hot.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients.