The Cooking Garden: How to Stretch Your Leftovers without Going Shopping

 c--documents and settings-jchristo-desktop-kidscookingCooking with the leftovers from lunch with the grandchildren doesn’t have to mean going to the store. As long as you have the basics in stock (pasta; rice; spices; that kind of thing), and access to extra vegetables, you can make most main meal leftovers last all week.  Ask Granny has put together some handy hints for you to start making more of your meals – beginning with the Kitchen Garden…

 

Herbs, Tomatoes, Greens

What grandparents can grow in their Kitchen Gardens depends on where they live. In the US, you can get away with growing squash, chilies and eggplant (that would be aubergine for all you UK listeners out there!) in Britain, you’re restricted to green plants like leek and cabbage, temperate herbs and tomatoes.

Tomatoes, herbs and green vegetables can all be grown in gro-bags or planters, so you don’t even need a proper garden to start stockpiling. What you do need is good advice. Be aware that “crop” vegetables like tomatoes and leeks have a planting season and a harvest season – so if you’re going to cook fabulous leftover feasts, you’ll need to do them with seasonal produce. The RHS can help with all planting and harvesting advice.

 

Indoor Food Plants 

Small food plants (for example spring onions and lettuces) can be grown indoors, on a window sill or in planters next to French doors. It is important to keep the pots turned on a regular basis so the plants grow straight and have access to the light they need. In theory, it’s possible for grandparents to grow anything indoors as long as there is enough light and space: be advised, though, that the amount of light you will need to grow a full crop of vegetables is quite a lot, so it’s often advised that you grow herbs in window boxes and plant your veg outside.

 

The Basics 

Pasta, rice and couscous form the basics of any leftover feast. Even the largest chicken or side of beef needs something to be served on or in, after all.

Baking potatoes are great for some leftovers, too: anything like chilli or Bolognese, which can be dumped on top of a fresh jacket.

Ensure that your larder is always stocked with these (as mentioned), plus the seasoning essentials too: salt; pepper; your favourite exotic spices. Always have oil on hand for frying and stock cubes for adding extra flavour.

 

Good Leftover Dishes 

Some dishes create natural leftovers – that is, if you cook enough for you and the grandchildren on the first night, you’ll get a rewarding meal on the second. These types of dishes tend to include stews; casseroles; and chillies – anything where a period to let flavours mature brings out the best in what you already have.

Use roughly chopped spring greens to add extra bulk to a leftover chilli, or to bring some extra pizzazz to day two of a Bolognese sauce. And remember that you can freeze what you leave after day one, so you don’t have to eat the same thing two days in a row if you don’t want to.

 

Next week: leftover recipes for your Sunday meat cut…