How To Stretch Meals From One Chicken

Buying a whole chicken and stretching it to make multiple meals makes sense in so many ways. Environmentally less processing, packaging and energy used in a whole rather than individual portions. Health reasons, reducing your meat intake and maximising your vegetables brings health benefits. Financially because it is usually cheaper to buy a whole chicken than individual portions, and if you use all of it you will make the most of your chicken and save your pocket!

Fresh V Frozen

Depending on what you have access to and how you shop, may depend on whether you buy a fresh or frozen chicken. I always buy a fresh whole chicken just because I know if for some reason I didn’t use it, it could go straight in the freezer whole or cut up. In general I’m usually using it within a couple of days of purchase and certainly within any use by dates.

I also like to keep some cooked chicken back and freeze it for another meal. Although technically you could refreeze a meal made with previously frozen chicken, I personally prefer not to.

One thing you definitely cannot do is refreeze raw chicken that has been defrosted. However you can refreeze a meal that has been created from a thawed frozen chicken once.

This is why I personally buy fresh so that I know I can cook and freeze without concern of how many times the meat from the chicken has been frozen.

Cook First Or Chop Up

Although there is nothing to stop you chopping up a chicken before cooking, especially if you want to freeze or use parts of a fresh chicken, such as legs and wings for a different type of recipe. In reality it’s harder to cut up than a cooked chicken, which once cooked will literally just fall apart once you start handling it.

Top Tips

Care must be taken handling raw meat, the equipment you use and suitable storage. Ensure you avoid any contact with other food items.

Whenever you are using frozen chicken (cooked or uncooked) ensure it has been thoroughly defrosted preferably overnight in a fridge and used within 1 day.

#1 Roast Dinner

I know I’m perhaps biased being from the UK but in my opinion you can’t beat a Sunday Roast! Yummy family meal, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots can go in the same roasting tin or separate if you prefer. I usually make a cauliflower and broccoli cheese in advance which also gets popped into the oven at the same time. With or without stuffing, lashings of gravy. Most people in my experience want breast. Top tip to save on the meat consumption, don’t put the whole bird on the table, slice thinly and plate up individual portions, a spoonful of stuffing, a couple of potatoes and a splash of gravy make the plate look fuller and people are able to help themselves to the vegetables on the table.

The bird remaining in the kitchen is harder to get to and less likely to be picked at. Meaning more meals can be made from it!

#2 Remove All The Meat

Either the same day as roasting or at most the next day, I remove all the meat from the bones. As the chicken has been roasted it falls off easily. I separate it into different smaller containers. The skin, gristly parts and bones are put together in one (to make stock). The rest of the meat is pulled off the bones, legs and wings included and divided up, not forgetting underneath the bird. I try and divide the meat into the portion sizes I am likely to use as a maximum for future meals, whether that be later in the week or to freeze. In the images below the chances are by using other ingredients, particularly vegetables in my cooking I will be able to stretch 2 main meals for a family of 3/4 from one container of chicken.

If you have family members that prefer to eat off the bone, then you can keep the legs and wings in tact. However I do find that because I strip the bones and usually combine the meat with other ingredients, it tends to go further.

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How To Make Meals Stretch

Making the most of your food, eating well but reducing food waste saves time, the planet and money in your pocket. Far from being a frugal ideal. Being savvy with what you buy, use and plan makes complete financial and environmental sense. Most people go through periods in their lives when they need to make savings, being prepared or starting now to allow for a build up of funds for later is no bad thing, or simply wanted to divert funds elsewhere.

Planning

There’s truth in the saying fail to plan and you plan to fail. The reality is however if you plan your meals for the week and then get the shop for the week, you are less likely to overbuy create waste and end up throwing food away and basically your money too! You can also often double up on meal prep, leftovers, stretch individual food items to go that little bit further and easily swap options about.

I have tried several ways but find it easier to just keep a month at a time calendar in the kitchen specifically for main meals. It also helps to look back if your stuck for ideas, enables others to write a favourite meal request in for the future, as well as a guide for the week.

If something has come up, or for some reason we are having something different for dinner, everything just gets moved by a day, or an item that may be in the freezer might get moved to the following week. It’s a guide, but its flexible, and enables advanced food prep or the welcome of a hot meal waiting in slow cooker for when you come home after a long day!

Bulk With Legumes & Vegetables

Adding lentils, beans, peas and/or other seasonal cheaper vegetables particularly to casseroles, bakes, pies, curries and risotto’s especially ones including meat, can really help to create a much larger amount, therefore creating another meal for another day or reducing the amount of meat required. As meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, this can create considerable saving, particularly if you are having dinner guests.

I always add lentils, leftover veg and a tin of chopped tomatoes to my lasagne, cottage pie and chilli, when using minced beef/steak as well as when creating vegetable versions. I find it gives greater flavour, and greater volume with surprisingly little meat. My team are not keen on kidney beans so I use mixed beans or baked beans instead.

Casseroles and curries can easily contain more vegetables than meat with nobody really noticing. Even with a shop bought sauce adding more vegetables and legumes will not only add nutrition, it will add volume. You can always add more water or stock, gravy, a tin of tomatoes, or baked beans to stretch the sauce content, if it seems too dry.

Reduce Meal Or Plate Size

Not everyone likes a mountain of food on their plate. I know several people for whom a loaded plate is the quickest way to put them off their food. Reducing food portions can help with reducing volume consumption and therefore overall cost. Using a slightly smaller dinner plate can also help give the impression of a large plateful of food, if that is your enjoyment.

Weekly Leftover / Fridge Crawl Meals

Allowing for one night a week when you have leftovers and/or fridge crawls is a great way of using up food that otherwise could be heading for the bin in a few more days. A friend of mine used to call it bits and bobs night. Its amazing what you can create when your forced to! I find Its kind of nice to have a buffet on the table if there are several left over dishes, you can create a few sides, left over veg, salads, pickles or even fruit and some bread. Does it really matter if things don’t go that much? Everyone has enough to eat and your less likely to have something that’s gone off in the back of the fridge, or iced up in the freezer.

Make One Freeze One

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DIY Reusable Food Wraps/Fabric Beeswax Wraps

Creating your own fabric beeswax/reusable wraps is easy and a great way of re-purposing unwanted cotton fabric.

If you are unsure as to what beeswax wraps are, checkout my post What Are Beeswax / Reusable Wraps And Why Do I need them?

If not then lets get started!

There are multiple methods of essentially creating the same thing. Some people prefer to use pine resin, others not, some use jojoba oil, but coconut oil can also be used. Beeswax can be bought and grated or beeswax pellets can be used. One thing everyone needs however is fabric and beeswax!

What Do You Need To Make Beeswax Wraps

  • Fabric 100% cotton is best a fine weave sheet type thickness. I used part of an old sheet and part of a cotton blouse that was beyond repair.
  • Beeswax
  • Jojoba oil or Coconut oil
  • Pine resin (optional)
  • Parchment or baking paper
  • Dedicated paint brush (optional)
  • A heat source – oven, sandwich press or iron.
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What Are Beeswax / Reusable Wraps And Why Do I need them?

What Are they

A Beeswax wrap, also known as a reusable wrap is a piece of fabric (usually cotton) coated in a beeswax mixture and dried. It can be used to preserve food, cover dishes, as well as other uses. The heat of the hands help mould it either around food or to cover a plate, bowl or other type of container that has no lid.

They are mainly used as a more sustainable alternative to cling film or foil as they are plastic free and can be washed and reused.

What Are They Made From

They are usually made from 100% cotton which is coated with a mix of beeswax oil often jojoba and/ or coconut and a pine type rosin.

There are also vegan versions that do not use beeswax.

Why Do I Need Them

The wraps are a good alternative on the fight to reduce plastic in particular to reduce single use plastic. They replace foil and cling film particularly in food preservation. The wraps therefore help to reduce food waste as well as single use plastic waste. They take up very little room, so a great space saver compared to plastic or other containers.

How Do I Use Them

The wraps are simple to use. They use the warmth of your hands to become pliable and slightly sticky enabling you to mould the fabric around a food item such as bread, fruit a block of hard cheese or a sandwich. The fabric can be stretched and stuck over an opened tin or another plate or container to keep it air tight. They can be made into a pocket or cone for dried food/snacks or fruit.

It is not advisable to use them on meat.

It can be beneficial to colour code them. For example keeping the same colour for dairy products and another colour for vegetables.

Once used they can be washed in a mild detergent at a cool temperature and hung to air dry. They dry quickly.

Best Uses – Food

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How To Create A Stylish Sustainable Wardrobe

Creating a sustainable wardrobe not only helps the planet, helps support fair and ethical trade and working conditions it also helps you. Not only are you more likely to start wearing more natural fabrics, which will allow your skin to breath, helping your mind and body. You’ll become wiser in what you buy, where from, what works for you and your body shape, loving and utilising all of your clothing and then options for reusing or recycling once an item is no longer wanted or beyond repair. In the long run, you will also save time, money and energy!

Here are 14 sustainable fashion tips you can start doing today to create that stylish sustainable wardrobe

  • Press Pause on Purchases
  • Be Confident In Yourself Your Style And Your Vision
  • Choosing colours and clothing styles that support and compliment you
  • Organise – What do I already have
  • Create a sustainable capsule wardrobe
  • Use Accessories to change a look
  • Repair
  • Sell, Swap, Donate
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
  • Decide on what you need
  • Sustainable fabric choices
  • Where to buy
  • Take care of your clothing investment

Press Pause On Purchases

Over-consumption is one of the biggest factors regarding environmental issues. Fast fashion is exactly that…fast, not made to last or even expected to last because next season a different version will be made, and you’ll be expected to buy.

Creating a sustainable wardrobe involves thinking about your clothes in a sustainable way. They are an investment and an investment in you. You need to think about you, change your mindset don’t feel pushed into ‘The must have’s’ for the season. Start thinking in terms of ‘might have’s‘ and if its right for you and your wardrobe needs.

Stay away from the sale rail, unsubscribe from store emails, clear your browser from automatically opening to stores and make it difficult to buy anything clothes related. The chances are that unless you literally have no functioning underwear, socks or tights, you really don’t need to buy anything for at least a month and probably longer. Giving you a chance to work through most, if not all of the steps below.

If you think there is something you desperately need or has popped into your inbox with a massive discount, leave it where it is for 48 hours or even better a week. The chances are you won’t feel the same or have the same rush of ‘must have’. Putting distance between you and your habits in purchasing is where you can make the most gains in time and money. Most of us have bought something in the heat of the moment, then regretted it later or only worn the item once. Yes, you can return the item, but lets face it, its not usually something any of us want to be bothered with, and it could have been omitted just by pressing the pause button!

Being sustainable is not just about buying everything Eco-friendly, its about shopping wisely ensuring everything is really what you want, need and love to wear.

Be Confident In Yourself, Your Style And Your Vision

Be honest, and ask yourself the following questions:-

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Gift Ideas That Keep On Giving

Struggling to think of gift ideas for a friend or loved one? A special birthday coming up and they literally have everything? An Eco conscious friend your nervous to buy for? Look no further my list of top eight genres with lots of thoughtful ideas that keep on giving and don’t cost the earth in more ways than one in the process!

  • Planet Friendly Ethical Fashion
  • Gifts Including Memories
  • Gifts For The Gardener
  • Gifts That Support Someone Else
  • Experience Gifts
  • Practical And Personal
  • The Gift That Gives Elsewhere
  • The World Of Words

Planet Friendly Ethical Fashion

There is something about wearing natural fibres, that have been ethically and fairly made that puts a spring in your step. Whether an actual clothing item or a gift card, you can’t go wrong with a sustainable ethical clothing brand. Items produced in organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, not only bring a great talking point, they are a delight to wear, allowing your skin to breath and they last.

I love bamboo clothing, I came across the fact that you could make clothes with bamboo several years ago, which at the time to me, just seemed bizarre. I was intrigued and so I ordered some clothes. To speak in a very British way when my package arrived.. I wasn’t disappointed! For the not so British let’s go with awesome!

There are now multiple brands from Lucy & Yak to Noctu. The brand I have personally used for several years is Thought. Once delivered, I was amazed to open something that wasn’t full of plastic. (Even the outer bag was beautifully designed, paper and encouraged you to reuse). From the first feel of the softness and quality of that bamboo top and the cosy bamboo socks that snuggled around my toes, I was sold!

Since that time they have added more lines, with home, make-up, jewellery and accessories. As a company that has an ethos of responsible sourcing and caring about people and nature its a brand worth considering.

I have since purchased plenty of bamboo socks amongst other things as gifts!

For a link to the wearthought.com website click here.

Gifts including memories

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Mixed Fruit Crumble

This is an ideal way of using up fruit that is starting to look a little sad and being bypassed for fresher looking fruit! Predominantly a pudding but my family have been known to scoop a bowlful as an alternative breakfast!

You can pretty much use any fruit. I find Apples, pears, plums, berries, rhubarb, all work well and I tend to add in, citrus, banana and mango to other fruits rather than a whole crumble of them, but that is only because I haven’t tried it thus far!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a little or a lot. I tend to decide from what fruit I would like to use up as to how big the dish I am going to use and subsequently how much crumble I will need. Therefore the amounts below are a rough guide, its quick and easy so if you feel your crumb is looking a bit thin you can always add some more!

  • Prep Time 10-15 minutes
  • Cook Time 30-35 minutes
  • Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 500g of mixed fruit
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey or syrup
  • 100g of flour
  • 50g of butter
  • 50g of sugar white or brown
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Quick Flap Jacks

Flap jacks one of those snacks that you can leave basic or add in all sorts of things that you would like to use up. Banana, apple, raisins, chocolate chips, leftover cereals, I love just popping things in and seeing how they turn out.

For a quick basic recipe see below and have a go!

  • Prep Time 10-15 minutes
  • Cook Time 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 125g sugar
  • 125 butter
  • 2 tablespoons of Golden Syrup
  • 250g Porridge Oats
  • 50g dried fruit (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven 180C / Fan 160C/ Gas 4
  • line a small baking sheet with grease proof paper
  • Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan, put on a low heat stir and melt it down.
  • Once all melted add the oats, dried fruit and any other bits and pieces and give a good mix around making sure everything is coated.
  • Once mixed place into the tray, smooth and press down with a fork
  • Bake in the oven for around 20 mins or until golden.
  • Remove and allow to cool
  • Once cooled, lift out and chop into squares.

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What can I do with overripe bananas

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What can I do with overripe bananas

You bring your lovely bananas home partially green and it seems within seconds there are brown spots they quickly become less appealing to eat as each day passes. Before you know it, there are more black than yellow areas all hints of greenness disappeared. However before you head for the nearest bin even if its a compost bin have a look at these options. There are quick options for when you are heading out of the door!

  • Freeze
  • Banana porridge
  • Mashed Banana & Peanut Butter on toast
  • Smoothie
  • Banana Ice Cream (quick method)
  • Baked Banana
  • Banana & Mixed Fruit Crumble
  • Banana Flap Jacks
  • Banana over ripening prevention

Freeze

Freezing is a quick way of delaying any further ripening and saving them for use at a later date. You can actually freeze with the skin on, it will go black. (ensure when defrosting you place in a bowl as there will be liquid seeping)

Bananas are best put in an air tight container or freezer bag. I tend to use reusable jars. But whatever you use, you can peel and cut into chunks, there by being able to remove the amount of chunks you may want for later. If space is tight you can mash up and place in a freezer bag, flatten to remove air and seal. You then will have a nice flat shape that can slot in pretty much anywhere in the freezer. Labelling your item with how many mashed bananas it contains can be helpful for future use.

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Less is more – My own story

It started with a hedge!

Many years ago I was engaged in the most arduous garden job of cutting the hedge. The hedge that grew at an insane speed. Little did I know that this hedge would change my life! Whilst busy getting frustrated, I noticed a large clearance van outside a neighbors house quickly being filled with household contents and furniture.

The elderly lady had passed away a few months before. I knew she had no local family and her only child was a son that normally lived some distance away. I could see him overseeing the removals. The property had been sold, and the van quickly became crammed with her possessions.

It really hit me that as the men shut up the doors, how final it all was. That van was filled with a lifetime of possessions and furniture unwanted by the son or anyone else.

  • You do not know what is around the corner.
  • You cannot take it with you

I had many questions – What was the point? Why did we all work so hard to maintain houses? Why did we buy or acquire so many things? What should or could we do with those things? Over a lifetime many items will become lost, broken or worn out and will be replaced. However some items can hang around for years. We may notice and enjoy them….but sometimes not!

House moves are stressful

House moves are stressful but can often result in unopened boxes in a loft leftover from a house move from several years before. I’ve known people that have moved those unopened boxes from one house move to another.

We all have our own experiences and points of view of essential items. (If I’m ever able to possess a pair of Manolo Blahnik killer heels, then yes I probably would consider them essential!!!)

How many of our possessions when we die, realistically get taken by a friend or family member? At the time of my personal enlightenment the Swedish word ‘Dostadning’,  translated as ‘death cleaning’ in English was unknown.

Something really shifted inside of me that day. A seed was planted, a snowflake settled. Over time they gathered momentum, and my life looks very different now. I still don’t own a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s, but I do possess a smaller property without a hedge!

Dostadning’ from the the book by Margaretta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

For Amazon click image above

The links below enable you to shop supporting the book shops local to you via Bookshop. org. (Currently UK and US only).

For UK bookshop.org click here

For US bookshop.org click here

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