Friday, March 27, 2009

Maximizing Food and Extending Dishes

The price of produce and groceries, even eating out, is soaring. So we need to be a little savvy about extending those dishes.

Sample things one can do include:

1) Plan Your Menu

Consider recipes that require the same ingredients so you can buy the ingredients in bulk. Just store the ingredients properly. Most vegetables will keep for a week when stored well. A sample strategy is buying ground pork and dividing it into 3-4 portions and storing it separately. One part, you can use for lumpiang shanghai, the other part for some meatball and veggie soup and then the last portion for sauteed veggies. Three different dishes that used the same ingredient (and all those can use carrots as well!)

2) Use What You Have

Have little bits of everything in the fridge? Cut them up to spice up a congee of rice or noodle soup or veggie soup. Have about to spoil little bits of veggies? Boil everything and strain and keep the broth to flavor future dishes. Don't have white onions? Use red, native ones. Sure, it will affect the color of your dish but if you aren't entertaining, that really wouldn't matter.

3) Keep things simple

Although it's nice to eat a meal that you know has been labored on for hours, it's just not practical. It's a waste of energy and time for busy families. So save labor-intensive dishes for weekends, when it can really be enjoyed and you actually have the time to make sure it will be enjoyed. Or, if thereare things you can already cut and prepare beforehand, do so, so that you'll just be throwing things into the pot when making a weeknight dinner.

4) Save the broths

Boiled chicken for chicken spread? Keep the broth. It's been seasoned and flavored anyway so might as well keep it. Then later on, use it for soups. Either just add some noodles or pasta and veggies... or boil veggies in it and puree later.

5) Use Meat as Flavoring

Instead of always preparing dishes where meat is the main thing, prepare dishes where meat is used as flavoring or extender. Think chopsuey and other veggies you can sautee and just garnish with some pork slices or ground beef or pieces of chicken. Think of spring rolls. Think tokwa't baboy. Think veggies cooked in coconut milk like Gising Gising. Vegetables are healthier options and are a lot cheaper than meat.

6) Recycle sauces

If everyone uses serving spoons, and you only serve/reheat portions that will be eaten, then recycle some of the sauces. For example, if you cooked Chicken in Lemon Butter Sauce, feel free to make sure there'd be extra sauce for some Shrimps or Pork in Lemon Butter Sauce for the following day. You get to extend the use of lemons and butter, which are both expensive.

Also, if ordering take-outs from Dampa or Seaside, say Sweet Chili shrimps, ask them for lots of sauce and save that sauce for later use. You can just as easily fry pork cutlets and add the sauce (or if you want it to taste differently, add a small can of pineapple tidbits).

There are many creative ways how to extend food we buy and prepare... we just have to be a little inventive about it.

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