What's Cooking? Rosemary Potatoes, Lemon Pepper Chicken, and a Planned Strategy for Leftovers
When I first started cooking ahead, I guess I assumed there had to be an element of suffering to it. I wore that like a badge as I spent 12 or more hours at a time on my feet for the first 2-3 days a month. I baked 20 pounds of chicken at a time while the same amount of ham was in my counter top roaster. I assembled casseroles, precooked hamburger, and generally went to battle over this process each and every month. After a lengthy day of food prep, what did I usually have the energy left for when it came to dinner? Peanut butter sandwiches. Maybe.
Using the strategy of “planned leftovers” more frequently would have saved me a ton of grief. I’m not saying an occasional day devoted to advanced prep isn’t still necessary. But working yourself into the ground most definitely isn’t. Here’s a meal I prepared this week using the “planned leftovers” technique, and the resulting extra meals I was able to throw together quickly with minimal effort.
Rosemary Potatoes and Lemon Pepper Chicken:
You can roast potato chunks using any type of potatoes, but I think they come out a bit more elegant and colorful with the red Spanish variety. These are also better for your blood sugar if you are diabetic. Because I often need them to cook quickly, I’ve gotten in the habit of cutting them up into one inch (more or less) chunks and tossing them with a bit of olive oil and rosemary. In a 350-375 degree oven, these will be done in 20-25 minutes. Because we happened to have fresh rosemary growing in the garden, we were able to celebrate that ingredient a bit more. But really, the stuff in the spice jars from the store works fine as well.
Lemon pepper chicken can be prepared in a number of ways, some more elaborate than others. Because I was baking off almost all of a ten pound bag of chicken legs and planning to use the de-boned meat for extra meals, I went very simple with this and just sprinkled on lemon pepper seasoning powder before it went into the oven.
While I certainly could have gone hog wild with an elaborate vegetable side, I opted for plain steamed broccoli. Not the sexiest dinner menu ever, but there was a method to my madness. I knew with the ingredients I had chosen that there were 2-3 extra meals this week I would not be stressing over much at all.
With the leftovers I got a batch of cream of chicken and broccoli soup, a type of chef’s salad / cole slaw, and sandwich filling for two for lunch. Other options could have included chicken soft tacos, quesadillas, soup and more. I can’t lie, some times things get so hectic that the only “plan” I can come up with for these extras is to toss them into freezer bags and be done with it. But really, that’s kind of the point . . . to have the leftovers make your life easier on whatever time table works for you.
From time to time, I think it’s important to include more basic dinner and recipe ideas because it paints a more realistic picture of how real people accomplish financial independence and stick to their guns with the grocery budget. Yes, it’s great to find gourmet ideas for dirt cheap, and I like to include those when appropriate. The reality though, is that everybody caves at busy times and has the equivalent of “grilled cheese night” occasionally. It’s impossible not too.
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