Making a Little Go a Long Way

Having had a life-long practice of thrift, I haven’t found living on a fixed income as a senior citizen difficult at all. Perhaps this is the time to share some of these practices.

What you can do with a bag of dried beans:

  • save out half a cup of beans to plant and have your own supply
  • make the usual Saturday night baked beans, or do what I do…
  • make Pot Beans by soaking the beans overnight until swelled, then place in a large pot with fresh water to cover; add an onion and cook on the stove top until very soft – even mushy. I then ladle these – beans & liquid into straight-sided canning jars and freeze them. I then have them to use for:
    • bean burgers
    • chili
    • succotash
    • additions in small quantities to many soups, casseroles, etc.

Making meat go further:

  • I extend meats by slow cooking until they can be pulled apart with a fork. This works well with pork, beef, and chicken breasts. I usually add some barbecue sauce and serve over toast or noodles, or added to a homemade soup. With ground beef I no longer make hamburgers but, instead, cook it with some taco seasoning and divide it into portions, adding some to spaghetti sauce, chili, pizza topping, soups. Sometimes I turn it into meatloaf and I even extend that into small portions in other dishes.
  • A roast chicken is a bonanza of additional meals. The initial one is a delicious roast with its crispy skin. It then also appears as chicken salad and finally as delicious chicken soup stock when it gets down to the carcass with just a little meat left on it. I place it in a large stock pot, cover with water, add celery and onions and cook on the stove top until the meat comes away from the bones. I strain out the bones and skin but keep any pieces of the meat. I freeze them in various plastic containers. My freezer always has ingredients for putting together a soup. I keep on hand some store bought cans of cream of chicken soup  to add a creamy quality to the soup.

No leftovers go to waste:

Everything in the fridge has a potential second life.

  • Faded vegetables and salad greens can be turned into soup stock…just place in a pot and cover with water, cook until everything can be pierced with a fork, then strain out the limp vegetation and save the liquid in jars in the freezer or pressure can if you’re set up to do it.
  • leftover pickle juice can be used for submerging leftover veggies like green beans.
  • I make lots of quiches and frittatas to use up scraps of meat and veggies.
  • My secret ingredients are feta cheese and pitted Calamata olives to add an exotic quality to mundane ingredients.
  • Everything eventually ends up as soup. I rummage through the fridge and the pantry shelves for interesting combinations. My secret to a great flavored soup is to add anywhere from 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of cider vinegar near the end of cooking and add salt judiciously until the flavors are just right.

Cooking is an outlet for creativity. Give it a try!