I find that eating well takes preparation. Anything in the supermarket that is quick and easy is highly processed and full of additives. Cooking with nutrition is simple, but you need the ingredients on hand and, especially when you’re changing old habits into something new, you need the headspace to cook something that will tempt the whole family.
The problem is, not everyone is a shopping list person, or a meal planner. It’s definitely great if you are! And there’s plenty of great shopping and cooking apps you can download to help you. But sometimes, despite all of that, we’re stuck with a night where we don’t want to cook, we forgot to take the meat out or pick up that essential ingredient. Or we just desperately feel like takeaway and are totally unmotivated to cook! So, then, what do we do?
As a working single-parent who’s constantly on the move, I have solved this problem (which happened to me regularly!) by always cooking extra quantities. Instead of planning 6 or 7 evening meals for the week, I plan 4, and always make sure there’s leftovers. If there’s a night that I’m just too tired to cook, there’s leftovers in the fridge and we can all just help ourselves. But, mostly, I leave a couple of nights of the week to just get creative with the leftovers and see what I can make. I’ve made a few of our family favourites this way, and they end up becoming regular dishes. There’s just something about leftovers too, in that whatever you make with them seems to be the perfect ‘comfort food’. That’s probably because what I have leftover is often in the form of complex carbs! And carbs do make good comfort food!
So, here’s a few of my ‘Leftover Recipes’, which are not really recipes at all, since, if you decide to follow them.. well.. you’re supposed to use your own leftovers, so you’re going to have to adapt.. or write a meal plan and a shopping list!
Mash is my all-time favourite leftover food! I learnt it from Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar), but I’m sure variations of mash have been around for centuries!
Basically, a mash is a chunky, vege filled scrambled eggs. Fry up some left over meat (or even fine without meat) and garlic/herbs, and add some chunky cut leftover veges. Anything is fine. You make it taste great by adding your garlic and herbs to compliment what you’ve thrown in the pan, and use coconut oil because that gives it a really good taste (I always use a lot of oil for mash!). I like to add roast beetroot, and always have some kind of green (frozen spinach, baby spinach.. whatever you have). Chunks of avocado go really good in a mash too, just add it after everything is already heated. The final step of a good mash, I think, is to add some beaten egg, like when you make an omelette, and stir it gently so that it sets onto the meat and veges, binding everything together.
You can easily make mash without the eggs, and don’t need to bind it with anything, just serve your fried up meat and vege on toast and/or with a salad. But I like the egg. If you have any leftover cooked sweet potato, you can also add that to the pan instead of egg, mash it lightly so it’s mushy but still chunky and add it into your pan, with the heat on high and let it brown and bind everything together.
This was seriously the yummiest meal! I’m not a big pototo fan, and when I buy them, it’s usually because someone’s coming for dinner or someone gives me some.. When I buy potatoes, I always go for the low gi options: chat (purple skin) or carisma (only in coles). This one night, I wanted to use up the leftovers and found a few odd potatoes at the bottom of the crisper and .. a meal was born!
chat or carisma potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro leftover meat (I had slow cooked chicken coated in herbs and spices) chunky veges (I used mushroom, capsicum, onions) greek yoghurt cheese