It’s a game in the DCI home to see if we can make it until grocery day without making additional trips to the store. Most weeks I lose this game. But, periodically, I am successful and part of the reason for this success is that I have gotten fairly proficient at making something out of what I have rather than running to the store. Part of this effort is rooted in our passion for sustainability and reducing excess and waste in our home. But another contributor to my goal of eliminating extra trips to the store, is I am busy and do not need one more thing added to my to-do list on any given day. I am thinking if you chose to read a post entitled, “Making the Most of What’s in the Fridge”, you are probably in the same boat. So, I thought it might be useful to share my success this past week. I was able to fashion a main entrée, a snack item and a side dish all out of what I had even though I didn’t have everything typically included in those dishes.
I had two turkey thighs frozen to do something with, so I put those in the slow cooker in the morning. By the afternoon they were fork tender and I could pull and shred the meat easily. Here’s a typical recipe for the type of turkey casserole I had in mind. It calls for a can of creamed soup and corn bread stuffing mix. I had neither. But! I did have flour, milk and butter and I had left over corn muffins from Sunday lunch. So … I made a quick white sauce out of flour, milk and butter and the turkey broth from the slower cooker to thin it a bit and add flavor. I used that in place of the canned soup. Next, I sautéed some finely chopped celery and onion in olive oil, added it to the crumbled up the corn muffins, seasoned it with poultry seasoning and used it in place of the stuffing mix. Voila! Turkey casserole and nothing processed added. Win! Win!
I needed a side dish for supper one night and my mom had just given me a zucchini fresh out of her garden. Hmmm … got it! Baked Zucchini Slices! Recipe couldn’t be easier. Cut the zucchini in 1/4 inch round slices, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and dredge in bread crumbs. Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The only problem, I didn’t have any bread crumbs. But, I did have Cheerios! We have two kids. We are never without Cheerios. Did you know that you can grind Cheerios in a food processor until fine and then use in most recipes that call for bread crumbs? I didn’t either until I tried it in these zucchini slices, but to my delight, it did and I had enough left over that I put them in the ground turkey burgers I made a night or two later. Yum!
Most work days I pack a lunch for James before he goes off to the next DCI home improvement job. His lunch usually includes a sandwich or salad, fruit, something cruncy – he loves homemade popcorn, yogurt and a snacky type item to finish it off – like mixed nuts or a granola bar. Sounds like a lot! But, he is a big guy who works hard but likes to eat as healthy as he can. Last week, we ran out of the snacky type of item. Recently I had discovered another great use for really ripe bananas besides banana bread or muffins. Granola bars! Yes! You can mash a ripe banana, mix it with quick cook or old fashioned oats and peanut butter until thick, but spreadable, stir in dried blueberries and a few chocolate chips. Press into a baking dish and bake at 350 for around 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and cut. Now, they are not crunchy like your typical boxed granola bar, but they are delicious! These are gluten free and if you use all natural peanut butter they will be lower in sugar too.
So, there you go! Three examples of using what you have rather than running to the store and in turn saving time, energy and money while cutting back on packaged/processed food.
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