Friday, January 23, 2009

The Beauty Of Planned Leftovers

When the kids are in school, activities are in full swing and, shutter to think, the holidays are just around the corner! Leaving virtually no time for a home cooked meal! Sure, fast food is easier, but the health consequences don't justify the convenience. And, while serving traditional leftovers may be a weeknight necessity, food deja vu doesn't likely have your family sprinting to the dinner table. Simple planning is the answer. By cooking a little extra protein, pasta or rice on a day that you do have time to cook, you can create diverse menus that use leftover ingredients without lackluster results.

Cooking once and eating twice works on the premise of cooking additional quantities of basic ingredients and using them later for a completely different dish. This doesn't mean trying to make last night's grilled teriyaki chicken work in green chili enchiladas! What it does entail is that while cooking the teriyaki variety you also include three or four lightly seasoned pieces to be used in a meal later in the week. The possibilities are endless, with Sunday's "Grilled Steak" and corn on the cob becoming Tuesday's "Chicken Adobo" with boiled eggs served with steam rice, or Wednesday night's traditional "Spaghetti and Meatball" feast transformed into a filling Friday night stuffed fish "Relienong Bangus" (Milk Fish). It's economical, both on groceries and on precious time, and prevents that frightening tower of food filled Tupperware from ending up in the weekly trash bin. When cooking on food for future use, care should be taken in both the storage and integrity of ingredients. Don't even consider using a picked over chicken thigh that's been sitting on the table for the duration of today's meal as the star of tomorrow's dish after all, hidden bacteria are not listed in any recipes outside of the science lab. Instead, wrap freshly cooked proteins in foil, cooling slightly before storing in the refrigerator. Past can be packed without sauce in a covered bowl filled with a small amount of water, while rice and other vegetables should be kept in airtight containers or bags. It's also important to re-purpose cooked foods within a day or two, with certain ingredients including fish and rice being utilized the very next day.

Busy families need good food to keep them healthy and active. By cooking once and eating twice, you can serve delicious meals every night of the week while barely stepping foot in the kitchen!

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