Tag Archives: leftovers

Healthy Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Turn Leftovers into Nourishing School Lunches in Minutes!

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School has started again for many families, whether your children attend public or private school, or you are in a family fortunate enough to home school. And with school days comes school lunch staring us in the face again with that age-old question: “What on earth will I feed my child today?”

Finding nourishing, appealing, and economical choices may seem like a big challenge – especially something that is free of harmful substances you want your kids to avoid eating. Don’t worry, even the most spendthrift family can provide interesting and delicious meals for lunch time meals that don’t break the bank.

Sending healthy lunches for your child doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are many easy and quick solutions for sending good choices with your child each day without shuddering about what he or she is going to have for lunch.

What’s in your kitchen?

Simply make main meals you prepare during the day or evening with the idea of making enough extra for leftovers to send those items off with your children. With a little planning and preparation, you can also make modifications to those meals and make them a little different than the original meal. If you find that you don’t have leftovers because they get consumed before the next meal comes around, make extra the next time you prepare a meal and freeze or put in the refrigerator with the intention of using them the next day for lunch.

First, start by taking an assessment of what types of foods your family already eats. If you find that a lot of processed and prepared foods make it into your home, now is the time to re-think those choices and replace them with healthier ones.

Think about what meals your family eats and enjoys. You can freeze these in small containers for easy storage to heat up later when you need them. There are many foods like this you can prepare either for a dinner meal or in batches to freeze in small containers for easy storage to heat up later when you need them, and choices are pretty much endless – home-made soups, stews, chili, casseroles, leftover Mexican or Asian dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, stir-frys, roasted meats, poultry, and fish, rice and vegetables.

Do you currently use a lot of processed grains such as breads, buns, bagels, pastas, tortillas, and other similar products?

If so, consider making some or most of those meals without those foods. These products are highly processed, contain too many Omega 6s (one reason why so many people in the U.S. have inflammatory diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure), and actually contribute to loss of minerals in the body.

If you are going to include grains in your child’s lunch, it’s a good idea to do this sparingly and prepare them properly as traditional people have all over the world through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting.

If you’d like to leave out the carbohydrate components like tortillas as we often do, just add more of the main course and side items.

One example is to use leftover Mexican meals like taco meat and refried beans the next day and garnish with salsa, cheese, avocado, and vegetables such as squash and zucchini sauteed in butter with onions and garlic, salt and pepper.

Another choice would be to use home-made marinara sauce with ground beef and add parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash and green beans sauteed in butter.

Want to know more about why grains can be harmful to your child’s health? Read The truth about wheat and grains – are they good for your health?

Also, read this informative post at Wellness Mama: Are sprouted, soaked, and fermented grains healthy? – about why soaking, sprouting, and fermenting – the traditional method used by people all over the world – may not necessarily make these foods more digestible.

Meats, dairy, and other animal products

Contrary to popular belief, we need cholesterol and fat to be healthy. Foods with cholesterol and fat are high in nutrients. And kids need them even more than grownups because they are growing and developing.

If you are currently using conventional meat and dairy products, the next step is to consider how you can replace these items with more sustainable choices. Grass-fed meats. poultry, pork, lamb, and dairy products are becoming more available on the consumer market. Check with your local farmer’s market and/or farms in your area for these foods. You will want to choose animal products from animals and birds on pasture with no added hormones/antibiotics, or exposure to other toxins like pesticides or GMO (genetically-modified) feeds.

Unlike conventional animal products, animal products from sustainable sources are rich in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, and also cholesterol and Omega 3s which support brain development, immune system, and digestive tract function. They are also abundant in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is an antioxidant and important for cardiovascular health.  Because the animals and birds are out on pasture, exposed to sunlight, fresh air, and are allowed to engage in natural behaviors and are in a low-stress environment, their meat, eggs, and milk naturally contains more of those important nutrients children need for growth and development.

If you buy animal products in larger quantities and put them in your freezer, you can save money because buying these same products piece-by-piece is definitely more expensive. Find out what type of arrangements you can make with your local farmer to buy meat and other animal products in bulk. When you buy in bulk, you can also get other inexpensive but parts like bones and organ meats which can be used to make nourishing and delicious meals for your family, and allow you to stretch your food dollars more.

Fats and oils

If you are using butter substitutes, shortening, or vegetable oils like canola or soybean (think Wesson and Crisco, and other brands like Spectrum – even the “organic” variety), now’s the time to replace with real butter and other traditional fats like olive oil, sustainable palm oil, lard, tallow, and other fats from birds and animals on pasture.

Comprised of polyunsaturated fats that are fragile and go rancid when cooked, modern vegetable oils and spreads are deodorized, bleached, and chemically altered through high heat temperatures. This makes them rancid and inflammatory to the body.

They lack critical fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K2, Omega 3s, or CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) for brain, immunity, and digestive health.

Read Changing ingredients for a nutrient-dense diet for some ideas on how to get the maximum nutritional value in all your meals for your family.

Here’s a sample of some lunches my son has taken to school or eaten at home when we home-schooled:

  • Chicken or beef soup made with home-made broth (including carrots, onions and celery and whatever spices you like – sage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, basil, cumin, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, anise, five spice powder, etc.) and add in any vegetables you have in the house – green beans, peas, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash work well. You can also add rice or potatoes, prepared in advance.
  • Leftover marinara sauce made with grass-fed beef, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, and rosemary (sometimes we use mushrooms and other vegetables like bell peppers and zucchini as they are easy to hide and don’t change the taste of the sauce) garnished with parmesan cheese
  • Leftover chili made with grass-fed beef, pasture-raised turkey, or chicken, soaked beans of your choice, tomatoes/sauce, onions, bell peppers, home made taco seasoning w/chili powder, cumin, black or cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice your children like), sea salt, paprika, and garlic (optional). For garnish add home made sour cream, salsa, avocados, fresh tomatoes and onions, and cheese.
  • Rustic baked chicken with cheese and bacon
  • Leftover ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef (from dinner) on real sourdough bread with cheese, home-made mayo, lettuce and tomato (or anything else your child likes)
  • Leftover meats quickly sauteed in a skillet with butter or lard, vegetables, rice, beans, tomato sauce, etc.

Storage containers

Check out these glass containers for storing food in your refrigerator or freezer (you can also use containers you already have such as glass, ceramic, or metal for storage):

You can also find some great deals on vintage glass storage containers such as Pyrex on eBay and in thrift stores or at garage sales.

Think about what meals your family eats and enjoys. Most of these foods can be saved in small portions, either refrigerated for the next day or frozen for next week and thawed out later, heated up on the stove in minutes and placed into a thermos or other portable container for lunch.  Consider eliminating plastic containers for storage as they can leach dangerous chemicals such as BPA into food.

Here are some recommendations for food and beverage containers for your child’s lunch:

Tips for getting lunch together:

  • Make a list of what you need each week and stick to it.
  • If you don’t have vegetables in the meal you are reheating and you want to send some in your child’s lunch, simply add them to a soup or main dish you’ve already made just by adding it into the pan when heating up.
  • Heat up your child’s lunch first thing in the morning so anything new you add is sufficiently heated ready to go by the time he or she needs to leave.
  • If any of these foods become dried out, add a little home made bone broth or stock, butter, olive oil, and/or lard as appropriate to “reconstitute” the meal so it is more like when you made it the first time.
  • If you have cooked or other ingredients in your refrigerator and haven’t assembled anything yet, you would be surprised just how quickly you can throw together a nourishing, delicious meal in 15-20 minutes.  Any leftover meats can be put in a pan with butter, olive or coconut oil, lard or tallow, and then you can add to it whatever you have on hand such as vegetables, cheese, herbs and spices, tomato sauce, beans, rice, cous cous, quinoa, cream sauces, or broth.  Heat just to boiling, turn the heat down, and let simmer for 10 minutes and you’ll have a warm, nourishing meal to send in your child’s thermos.
Activism Green Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Waste Not, Want Not: Tips for Saving in The Kitchen

www.mypicshares.com

Do you ever wonder how people eat healthy and save money? There are many ways to cut corners and make food last longer, thus saving a few bucks.

One way is to waste nothing (or as little as possible). I’ve noticed that the less I waste, the longer my food lasts and the fewer trips I make to the store or the farm. It’s a pretty reliable system.

Here are just a few of money-saving tips I’ve learned over time and through trial and error:

Find a home for leftover meats. Omelets, soups, stews, casseroles, stir frys, rice dishes…endless possibilities.

Save leftover vegetables. These can also go in many foods like omelets, soups, casseroles, and stir frys.

Use the carcass. Chicken carcasses are great for soups and broths.

Keep bones. Bones are good for soups and broths. I save my meat bones every time we have a meal and put them in a container in my freezer.

Save fat. We keep bacon drippings in a jar to use with all kinds of cooking – vegetables, garlic, onions, scrambled eggs, even to cook with other meats. But my favorite way to use it is to make refried beans. Yum!! There are so many other possibilities with leftover fats – again, soups, stews, casseroles, sautees, stir frying, etc.

Have a few meatless meals. Instead of using meat with every meal, use bone broths, cheese, butter, and other dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, or even cook your rice and vegetables in lard or tallow for your healthy fats and loads of flavor.

Freeze anything you can’t use right away. If you make a large meal that has leftovers and you know you won’t be able to eat it in the next day or two, freeze it.

Make your own salad dressing. A bottle of salad dressing from the store costs anywhere from $1.99 and up, more for the “healthier” brands. I’m here to tell you that most of the brands on the market are not healthy, even the “organic” and natural brands because most of them contain vegetable oils = bad. And that $1.99 brand will cost you more down the road in chronic health problems.

Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of olive oil, and a bottle of balsamic and red wine, or whatever your favorite vinegars might be. Mix these together in a 3 to 1 ratio (olive oil to vinegar), throw in some salt, pepper, spices, and you have a delicious salad dressing that is good for you. You can add many other ingredients to salad dressings. Get creative. Here is my home-made salad dressing recipe link. There’s even one there for home-made ranch dressing!

Use sour raw milk. This is a fantastic and versatile health food! Make yogurt or kefir, buttermilk or cream cheese, smoothies, and use in cooking – think pancakes, hot cereal, or mashed potatoes.

Buy in season. Buying in season guarantees a lower price. Foods that are not in season and that have to be shipped in are more expensive in more ways than one.

Buy local and buy direct. Local products are often cheaper because there are no transportation or other associated costs for the farmer/merchant. You may have to spend money on gas to go pick something up that is local, but you can plan your trips or carpool and make more than one stop on your way to other necessary obligations/tasks.

Cook from scratch. Anything you buy that’s already been prepared will cost more up front or on the back end (health problems later), or both. Here are some recipes for ideas.

Eat more nutrient-dense foods, and less junk. You will get full and stay that way longer, which will cut back on eating between meals and save money. If you are eating a lot of junk, you will be hungry more often, and have to keep eating more to get full – but you won’t be full, and your body will pay for it in the end.

Plan ahead and make lists. I don’t always do this, but when I do, I reap the benefits.

Consult the Dirty Dozen.  Although I always try to buy organic whenever I can, sometimes this is not possible. Find out which foods are best to buy organic, and which can be left to conventional selections if you are on a budget.

Plant a garden. If you grow your own food, the savings are substantial.

Grow and dry your own herbs. Wash them and shake them of moisture and dirt or insects that may have become trapped. You can bunch herbs together and secure with a tie, then hang them upside down for 1 – 3 weeks. Use care to tie the string securely around the herbs, but not too tightly which can cause broken stems. Best place to hang is in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Herbs are dry when they feel crumbly to the touch. You can also use a food dehydrator or oven (if you have a setting that goes down to 150 degrees). Wash, rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. When dry, place a parchment paper sheet in your dehydrator or oven. Place in the device of your choice for 40-45 minutes or until crumbly and dry. Make certain to spread well out and not overlap while drying. Store in an air-tight container, glass is best, or zippered plastic bag in a cool, dark place.

Buy whole foods, and buy in bulk when appropriate. Some bulk items are cheaper, but some are lower quality. Weigh those factors with whether to buy from bulk bins, frozen, fresh, or from the farm directly. A bag of prepared lettuce may seem more convenient, but a head of lettuce is usually cheaper and the savings on packaging is better on the environment.

Instead of toxic, costly cleaners, use vinegar to clean everything in your house. Use about 6 – 7 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar for cleaning. Walls, floors, counters, glass containers, bathrooms, sinks, toilets, and almost any surface you can think of.

Reuse containers. We have a bunch of glass containers and jars in our house that we’ve saved from products we’ve purchased, and they come in handy in many instances. My daily water container, for example, is a 32 ounce (liter) glass jar from unsweetened cranberry juices I buy. Use single-serving juice jars for drinks and baby food and small jars for lunches and to-go food packs. If you must use something disposable, use parchment or glass lids (plates turned upside down work too!), or paper bags. They are reusable, biodegradable, and better for health.

Throw all your organic matter into a compost bin. It’s amazing how fast you can create a wonderful, healthy pile of dirt for your garden by depositing your mustard and carrot greens, avocado peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, and egg shells into your compost bin.

Share with others. If you are going to pick up meat, milk, or produce from a local farm, find others in your area who also want to do this and share responsibility for pick up/delivery. We share our milk delivery with three other families, and thus only have to pick up milk once a month from the farm that is 30+ miles away.

Be willing to volunteer and you’ll reap benefits. A few years back, a woman who was selling locally-produced vegetables and fruits needed delivery drivers to take items around to subscribers on her CSA routes. I volunteered to be a driver to take produce crates around in my own neighborhood and in exchange I got a free crate of fruits/vegetables in return every week. I also made a new friend.  :)

More money saving tips:

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Proof that nourishing food doesn’t have to cost bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

Time and money saving tips – the real health and financial implications of food allergies

Eating healthy in a time of recession

Time and money saving tips – getting the most out of your vegetables

Want to know more about real food?

How well do you know your food? Find out!

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit Kristen’s site and read all the other real food posts linked there.

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!