You probably aren’t like me, and that’s okay. I surely don’t judge you for it.
When a holiday meal is on the horizon, I know that means there will be more food than usual reaching critical must + go status. And, if you know me, you know that I have a special peeve about food waste.
Why? Well, I buy or raise meats that are more expensive, I live on a tight budget, our landfills are overflowing with wasted food that is often wrapped in plastic, preventing it from decomposing simply, and the mess is adding exponentially to our greenhouse gas problem.
So, while people argue about BIG THINGS like getting rid of cows and fossil fuels, I am quietly doing my part doing the LITTLE THINGS; buying only the food I will actually eat, and keeping that food out of the garbage.
But don’t worry, this is not that kind of post. And don’t let me sound all high-horsey. Food is one area I’m rocking, but there are others where I really struggle. Shampoo, oil & antifreeze, and laundry detergent bottles, plastic in general, electronics and battery tips please?
This post is about good things to eat though, both now and later, and saving money.
So, I make some simple basics in advance of the holiday that make me ready to easily and quickly take advantage of the upcoming leftover opportunity/situation/crises (pick one depending upon your outlook).
Before any holiday meal I also make sure my freezer is stocked with home-made stock. Chicken or turkey is a good neutral stock that will take on the flavor of whatever you are cooking it with, and you did just have a big turkey recently. I am optimistically expecting that you have several quarts of homemade stock in your freezer right now.
Having stock already made makes holiday meal gravy making so much easier. And I am not going to go to all the trouble of spending more or raising my own meats to just plop a can of College Inn on top for the cooking liquid or gravy.
For Christmas dinner I made one of our holiday hams, and instead of glazing, I made classic ham gravy. So, by now, I have now had ham & gravy for supper twice, and three ham sandwiches. Ham and I need to take a break.
It is a great dish to have on hand, it keeps well at room temperature and there are more gatherings to attend. So thinking ahead, I also made a big pot of Rancho Gordo garbanzos.
You can use canned chickpeas, and it will be good, but my crazy attachment to this dish is definitely because the fresh, ethically raised heirloom Rancho Gordo beans themselves are so much more delicious. If you ever need some in a pinch, hit me up. I keep a small variety on hand to sell at the rare market I attend, and at the farm.
I have had some of my garbanzos already for breakfast topped with a runny egg, some are waiting to be quickly turned into that addictive salad, and a freezer bag with a cup or two will also be stashed in my freezer for ready-to-go addition to a later soup, chili, toasting, or batch of hummus.
Also, what’s left of my big batch of classic southern white ham gravy is begging for a job too. And it will get one, added to a batch of cream of potato soup. In this chilly snowy holiday weather, a hearty bowl of potato soup will be a warm welcome after a morning of blustery animal tending.
And tell me you aren’t throwing away that ham bone??
This soup with ham, kale and white beans is definitely happening here. One for dinner, some for the freezer, another quick, easy, top shelf meal for those days I don’t have time for cooking.
Each ham-based meal is completely different from the others, or is tucked away for a later date when I have forgotten ever feeling tired of ham. Waste not, want not, nose-to-tail, and all that jazz.
Got any nifty tips and tricks to make the most of the holiday bounty and keep those leftovers out of the landfill? Spill please…