Recycling Dinner: Making Many Meals from One

There was a time when a simple chicken meal was a coveted thing.  Lovingly roasted and set upon the table reserved for Sunday dinner, it was greedily consumed with excited delight leaving nothing but bones behind. The same could be said for hams and beef roasts as well. But now, with the advent of refrigeration and farming techniques aimed at farming and live stock raising, these humble meals are more available and, for the most part, cheap to buy making them valuable main meal stretchers. Here are just a few ways to stretch those coveted dishes while cutting back on your grocery budget.

For beef, add to a pot half filled with water. Add 1 -2 packets of onion soup mix (any brand) as well as ½ sweet onion, 3 medium celery stalks cut into 2 inch pieces, carrots, corn, green beans (canned, frozen or fresh), and three medium sized cubes potatoes. You can include any other vegetables left over from other meals. Add salt and pepper to taste along with 3 TBS. of flour. Let simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until sauce thickens and potatoes and carrots are soft. Pour over rice for inexpensive tummy filler. Serve hot!

For chicken, add to pot half filled with water. Add in chicken broth cubes depending on taste. Add in ½ sweet onions. Bring to a strong boil until meat and bones separate. Let cool and separate bones from soup. Add in 2 TBS. of butter or margarine and vegetables as stated above (no potatoes). Add water as needed and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil again for fifteen minutes. Turn down to simmer. In a separate pot, fill with water and 1 TSP. salt. Add in one bag of wide egg noodles. Boil until tender. Drain and add to chicken pot. Let simmer an additional 5 minutes then serve piping hot! Another addition to this meal is to replace the noodles with rice or by using canned biscuit dough. Boil rice separately and add to the pot as you would the noodles. For the biscuits, cut each biscuit into quarters and drop, one by one slowly into simmering pot. Let simmer an additional ten minutes or until dough balls are full and fluffy and done in the center. Great for those cold months ahead!

For Ham; carve from bone completely, cube meat and add meat and bone (bones add flavor) to pot half filled with water. Boil for fifteen minutes. Add vegetables above; reduce heat and boil an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Another addition to this meal is to add cabbage to the water and cook on a slow simmer. Or, sliced yellow squash, green and red bell peppers (sliced) and zucchini slow simmered in a separate pan with Vidalia onion (sweet may be used) and 1 TSP. of butter, ½ cup of water (salt and pepper to taste) with the ham cubes added in the end (no water). Serve hot over rice.

Whether reserved for the main dish or for resurrecting as leftovers, these one pot dishes are fast, easy and inexpensive meals that can be enjoyed far into anyone’s hectic work week.