It's fricassee, it must be Tuesday
June 2, 2008 9:06 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite, efficient, menu-planning sequences that use a limited set of ingredients in several different ways?

I love home cooking and like to make really good things, but keep the budget down. A lot of meats I buy locally, so they tend to be complete cuts with bones in and need different handling and planning than convenience cooking. For this I'm finding the tried-and-true strategy of using a few main ingredients in different dishes one after the other can really work.

For instance, I had a great week last week: roasted chicken with wild rice and sweet potatoes on the first night, which became chicken enchiladas on the second night, and also provided for a chicken and wild rice soup with thyme on the third night. Everything got used and was delicious. The best part about this is the variety: it wasn't just chicken, chicken salad, chicken salad, chicken salad.

What are some other meal plans that result in three iterations or so with different spins on a main ingredient or two? I'd love to do this more often!
posted by Miko to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Not a main, but I do this a lot with potatoes.
A big batch of roasted (or boiled or whatever) potatoes for dinner the night before is perfect for tossing in a skillet the next morning with some onion and bacon or ham to make awesome hash browns/home fries.

Pasta is another good thing for using up the day before's ingredients. Salmon, for example. Baked or on the barbecue first night, in a vodka tomato cream sauce with some penne the next night.

Aside from your chicken plan, I have to admit I can't think of many things you can use 3 nights in a row, unless you've bought a whole pig or something.
posted by chococat at 9:27 AM on June 2, 2008

This person does a lot of creative things with leftovers. Maybe you'll get some good ideas.
posted by phunniemee at 9:31 AM on June 2, 2008

There's a great Italian triple-pork stew (pork shoulder, italian sausage and pancetta) recipe in this book. The leftovers make an awesome pasta sauce. Leftover pasta can be mixed with eggs, cheese and milk to make pizza di spaghetti.
posted by dersins at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2008

I do this with roasts. Leftover roast beef (or pork) can be turned into pot pies, stir fry, tacos, or tossed with pasta. And it will generally take on flavors even after it's cooked, so it's versatile enough to re-season for other dishes (e.g. the tacos).
posted by boomchicka at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2008

I love doing this too! My husband catches a lot of fish, so this is something we do a lot in the summer. First night, we cook up all the fish and serve it with steamed veggies and salad or some variant of that. We take the extra fish and shred it up, and the next two nights, make either fish tacos, fish cakes, frogmore stew, or paella. All of them are fantastic. I'll mefimail you my husband's recipe for fishcakes later - you have to have it! It gets absolute raves and omgs from everyone who has one. I use this frogmore stew recipe and just use fish instead of shrimp, although you can certainly throw some in there if you like. If there's fish left over after you make a couple of meals out of it, use it to make a sort of dashi/fish stock - it makes a great base for miso soup.
posted by iconomy at 10:19 AM on June 2, 2008

A crock pot of beans!! Off the top of my head, you could make:
1) Tacos/burritos/etc., with beans as the "meat"
2) Refried beans and tortillas
3) Soup (black bean soup, or white bean and escarole soup, or...)
4) Bean dips/spreads, hummus style
5) Pasta with white beans and veggies

Bonus: cheap and healthy.
posted by robinpME at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

I don't so much repurpose already cooked things but if I'm buying special herbs or ingredients, I shop around for recipes that will help me use them up. So for example, I made an olive oil based potato salad with fresh herbs for a potluck BBQ at the weekend. So I made chicken salad last night which allowed me to use the chives and parsley and things I bought for the salad.

Or if I have an open can of chicken broth etc, I pour what's left into ice cube trays and then I will have little 2 TB size servings the next time I need to add chicken broth to a stir fry or what ever.
Same with leftover red wine, I freeze 1/2 cup portions in my freezer in case I need it for making spaghetti sauce or whatever.

Recipes that need only egg whites or egg yolks -- freeze the leftovers clearly labeled so you can use them for other things.
posted by chickaboo at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

My family makes leftover lamb into a hash with lots of onions and no potatoes. Chopped meat, chopped onions, a bit of salt and a frankly unreasonable amount of ground pepper, fried together in a wide heavy pan until the onions are well browned.

And then we somehow manage to eat all of it, no matter how much we started with, sneaking downstairs at one AM to gobble up the last bites if necessary, so that there's never any left on day three. But if there was, I've always thought it would make completely awesome filling for shepherd's pie.

Looking for recipes for that lamb-and-onions — I swear my Flemish grandpa called it ajuivlees but the Internet disagrees, and googling "Dutch hash" is strangely counterproductive — I was reminded of bobotie [scroll down], which I imagine would make another good day-three recipe in this sequence. Just skip the lamb-and-onion-browning steps and start in with the bread and the seasoning.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:30 AM on June 2, 2008

1st night - tacos, made w/ hamburger. I don't use a seasoning packet - it's just salt, chili powder & some flour. Taco shell, lettuce, cheese, sour cream.
Next night - shepherd's pie, w/ the taco beef as the meat, corn in the middle, mashed potatoes on top, and any leftover cheese on top of that. Shepherd's pie is the only time I use box mashed potatoes. Shepherd's pie freezes really well if you make too much.
posted by theora55 at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2008

Response by poster: mmm. y'all are making me hungry....
posted by Miko at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2008

I love to do that too:

1. pot roast cooked in beer with roasted veggies on the side (potatoes, carrots, onions, turnips, rutabagas, etc)
2. Beef pot pie, with creamy peas. carrots, mushrooms and leeks
3. Chipped beef on toast, using wathever is left over, plus some salty dried beef.

another trio with ham

1. baked ham with asparagus and sweet potatoes
2. ham kabobs (with pineapple, onions, red bell peppers, mushrooms) on cuscous
3. ham meatballs ( minced leftover ham balls, rolled in beaten egg white and bread crumbs, then sautee in butter/oil), with a dark cherry sauce (1 can of dark cherries, water and cornstarch) over rice
posted by francesca too at 10:42 AM on June 2, 2008

Speaking of ham: Day one, a baked bone-in ham done however you like it. Days two-through-N, real ham sammitches for lunch. Day N+1, collard greens or split pea soup with the ham bone. And the leftover soup and collards both freeze well if you have any, letting you stretch the sequence out even further.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:59 AM on June 2, 2008

If you make meatloaf, make two batches. One for the loaf pan. With the other batch take a small ice cream scoop and portion out meatballs. Freeze them until just firm on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper. Then put them in a freezer bag. You can portion them out for spaghetti and meatballs or a noodles stroganoff with meatballs.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:20 AM on June 2, 2008

I always think of these as being based around a central ingredient, usually the meat. So you do a sequence like roast chicken, something with shredded or chopped chicken meat (like your enchiladas, or salad, or hash, or whatever), and then a soup.

Or with a big beef roast, it's roast the first night, sandwiches for lunch the next day, hash or shepherd's pie or something like that for dinner, and then the third day something more "processed" -- shred the meat, add chipotle sauce, make tacos; add it to a stir-fry-like dish; etc.

When you add in the lunches (which can be straight leftovers, sandwiches, or other things), it is amazing how many meals two people can get out of one chicken or roast. The pattern for me is always the same -- the basic meat the first day, chopped or sliced or shredded meat in a dish the next day, and the third day becomes more processed or extracted (like soup, say). People are always saying that meat is expensive, but I get a lot of use out of a single chicken carcass or lamb leg; the per-meal cost is low, and the flavorful meat mean that I can build the rest of the meal around cheap things like potatoes and lentils.
posted by Forktine at 11:51 AM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

To add to the ham sequence, on N+n day, grill the ham and baste with bbq sauce. Pig + Grill = Win.

One of my favorite sequences involves a braising a pork shoulder or picnic on the first night. Who am I kidding? That thing is in the crock pot while I'm at work all day. The meat falls off the bone. We eat it usually with potato, onion and carrot that was in the crock as well.

Day 2 ends up with pork burritos.
Day 3 end with either pork stir fry or pork fried rice.
Day 4 (if it makes it that far) may be pork sandwiches or see the pork added to a salad with a bbq ranch dressing.
posted by onhazier at 12:09 PM on June 2, 2008

Ha! I never have lefovers with a pork shoulder in the slow cooker. I make pulled pork bbq and my husband and son pig it down until is gone.
posted by francesca too at 12:42 PM on June 2, 2008

Good lord, francesca too. A pork shoulder weighs in at 6 - 7 pounds. Your family are prodigious eaters to say the least!
posted by dersins at 1:11 PM on June 2, 2008

Boiled Chicken / Chicken Stock
Day 1: Cook chicken 4 hours, remove, separate meat from bone from stock
Day 2: Use stock (which as been cooling for 24 hours) as a base for minestrone or split pea soup
Day 3: Chicken sandwiches for lunch, soup for dinner
Day 4: Soup for lunch, Chicken casserole
Day 5: Chicken enchiladas

Flank Steak
Day 1: Dinner of flank steak
Day 2: Steak sandwiches
Day 3: Steak quesadilla
posted by charlesv at 1:16 PM on June 2, 2008

If you're just cooking for one or two, you can make a chicken go really far by not cooking it all at once.

Every couple weeks, I get a whole chicken, cut up by the butcher. (Although it's easy enough to cut up up yourself, if you're buying your bird at a farmer's market, say.) First day, I poach the breast in water with onion, carrot, and sometimes garlic (salt and pepper and bay leaf too), using the back and wingtips as well. (Wrap the legs, thighs, and wings tightly, and keep in fridge.) After the breast is just cooked through, I take it out, bone it, and toss the breastbone back in the pot to simmer a while longer. (Strain and keep the light stock.)

Usually half the breast goes to some kind of chicken salad--but really good chicken salad, much better than anything made from leftovers. (Something along the lines of Coronation Chicken is great for this.) The other half gets shredded for tacos or enchiladas: thin tomatillo salsa or mole paste from a jar with some of your stock, then mix in the shredded breast meat.

The dark meat is usually done in some kind of braise. A lot of times I'll do something vaguely Moroccan, adding root vegetables and chickpeas and a lot of spices, and serving with coucous. Or you can do a tomato and wine thing, adding a couple of sweet Italian sausages, and eat over polenta. I usually use up the rest of the stock in these, but if you have any left, you can make some light soup to have as a course with another meal. Avgolemono is perfect.

And, if you got a bag of giblets, you can mix them with a little ground beef, and make Cajun dirty rice.
posted by neroli at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

dersins- that is why I called them pigs. They really get carried away with pork bbq, and it is nothing really special, since I use bottled sauce.
posted by francesca too at 7:08 PM on June 2, 2008

charlesv- that is really stretching a chicken!
posted by francesca too at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2008

One thing I'm doing lately, because of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, is keeping a master dough in the fridge to pinch off from the day I want to make a loaf of bread. If you always have the dough ready, you can make super fresh sandwiches on the spot with leftover meats, cheeses, condiments, or vegetables, or bruschetta and crostini appetizers, or just good bread to dip in soup made from leftover bones!
posted by birdie birdington at 8:53 PM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

This lady just made some burrito innards into fried patties the next day
posted by chickaboo at 10:22 AM on June 3, 2008

oops. THIS lady
posted by chickaboo at 10:22 AM on June 3, 2008

Yah, we tend to follow the hunk of meat -> cut up/shredded meat -> meat flavoring route too. I also like doing this with vegetables - for example:

Boiling wedges of potato to toss with butter and dill - I'll scoop some out halfway through boiling, set aside, and toss with egg white and seasoned flour the next night for oven fries.

Roasted cubes of root vegetables - I'll make some for a side dish one night, the next day toss them into bitter greens for a salad lunch, and finally stir the last bits into a stew.

Sturdy cabbage or other non-wilty vegetable salads - like, I'll make an Asian-ish slaw one night as a side dish, then toss the rest with more delicate greens and some protein for lunch. Actually, I do this a lot with vegetable salads, re-bulking and re-making them over until they're gone. Like, I'll roast some beets and toss them with quinoa and lemon juice one day, then add a lot of cucumbers and oregano the next day, and finally add some feta and white beans to finish it off. Is that gross?

We use every last bit of bread, too. I try to bake twice a week when I can, and when it works we settle into a cycle as it stales: Fresh bread with dinner a couple nights -> toast/crostini -> bread salad -> french toast -> breadcrumbs to freeze.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:23 PM on June 3, 2008

« Older I want my couch back.   |   Adderall-induced weightloss: how permanent? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.