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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Planned Left Overs for Homemade Convenience

Yesterday I wrote about the pot roast with fire roasted tomato basil gravy I made for dinner a couple of nights ago.  This roast was cooked with planned left overs in mind to be made into a couple of homemade convenience foods.  Since I cook mainly from scratch, homemade convenience foods really help sometimes. 

roast beef slices
Roast beef lunch meat is currently priced at $5 for two 300 g joined packages, 600 g/1.32 lb total.  That works out to $3.78/lb.  We buy our beef on the hoof which works out to $2.35/lb across all cuts of beef we get.  One of these days I am going to invest in a meat slicer but thin slicing the beef or any other meat or poultry is not a huge problem.  The Yoshiblade™ ceramic knife does a really nice job of thinly slicing meats but any sharp chef's knife will do the same thing. 

Of note, the price of $3.78/lb for the joined packages applies to ham and turkey, both of which I can get for a better price than beef.  While store bought lunch meat is convenient, it takes little time to slice your own and with homemade you aren't getting all that salt, artificial colourants or flavourings.  This left over chunk of roast beef took me less than 5 minutes to slice into thin sandwich slices. 

vacuum sealed roast beef slices
Anytime I cook a roast beef, turkey, ham or cook extra BLSL chicken breasts, I reserve a portion to make homemade lunch meat slices.  I vacuum seal the slices then freeze to use as needed.  Each packet is about 1 lb which is a comfortable amount of sandwich meat to use up within a few days.  One of our freezer baskets has been dedicated to store these convenient meat packets.  The beginning of each week I take one packet from the freezer and place in the meat keeper of the refrigerator.  It's thawed by Tuesday ready for making sandwiches which works out nicely as usually we have left over meat from Sunday's dinner for Monday's lunch.

blended roasted vegetables
I cooked the pot roast with potatoes, carrots and cabbage that took on the flavour of the fire roasted tomato basil sauce used to make the final gravy well.  We like cottage pie, aka shepherd's pie made with ground beef or pork.  Years ago I discovered that rustic cottage pie is much more flavourable and more nutritious if you add carrots and/or cabbage to the potato topping.  I pulsed the roasted, richly flavoured vegetables with left over gravy and a little milk in the food processor to make the topping for a small cottage and a vegetable side for another meal.  This really is convenience because all I have to do is thaw and use.  Quite frankly, it would take me about 15 minutes to make a potato, carrot, and cabbage topping but it wouldn't have the extra depth of roasting and it saves me 15 minutes cooking time on a busy night.

blended roasted vegetables ready for freezing
I ended up with about 4 cups of the blended roasted vegetable mixture.  Originally I was going to freeze it together but decided to divide it half so I could vacuum seal.  In order to vacuum sealing this type of dish, it has to be froze first then vacuum sealed.  You can freeze in muffin tins for individual serving sizes or in 2 c containers.  Once frozen, the dish is popped out of the container and placed into a vacuum bag then sealed.

This method is used for anything wet like soups, stews, and some vegetable side dishes.  Whole rolls, loaves of bread and muffins can be frozen then vacuum sealed as well.  This prevents crushing.  The nice thing is you need a lot less freezer containers which translates into less container clutter.

frozen roasted vegetable blend vacuum sealed

Vacuum sealing the frozen dish is highly recommended because it eliminates freezer burn and reduces the freezer space needed.   I use a Sharpie to mark the contents and date just above the seal, right on the bag.  It works well and is low cost.

I like opening bags of foods frozen this way then popping them into a bowl while still frozen to avoid any mess of getting them out of the bag.  I ended up with two 2 c bags of the roasted vegetable mix per bag.  That is enough for one topping of a rustic cottage pie and a side or two cottage pies or two sides.  Not bad for a convenience food, if you ask me :)


1 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Great suggestions. Thanks, GG. :o)