There are so many ways to do both these things and when you are doing both togehter you are onto a winner! Like with crumbles. Good old fashioned and yummy crumbles.
Firstly they "use it up" on two levels. You can use up quite tired fruit that is no longer appealing fresh (and could be headed for the bin) in a crumble. So that bowl of apples going soft become something delicious. You can use up a glut of fruit. You can use tinned fruit that you found on a great special.
In summer I had peaches that needed using that day or it would be too late. I used a suggestion I gratefully recieved here and made a peach crumble. Actually several. Once this fruit was cooked I had a few more days to use it too. It was the best crumble I ever made!
So you are using tired fruit that might have been wasted. Or bargain fruit or tinned. You can mix some of this and that if you think they will go together. I have mixed pear and apple, rhubarb and apple, apricot and apple... apple and sultanas. You can use raw fruit, in which case cook it longer and slower, or cooked fruit which will heat through and be cooked quicker so you are really just going for a golden brown topping. If you are not sure go to your most trusted chef, cook book or website and check out a few recipes or use a family one as your basic recipe and vary from there. You cannot tell someone how much sugar to add as some fruit is already sweet and some is tart. You really need to add and taste. But once you have made one then it is an easy go to desert any time you have fruit to use up.
The crumble part, the topping, is also using up left overs. Your crumble topping uses up all kinds of things that could have been thrown away. Once you make crumbles you see all sorts of things that you can save to go towards your next one. Keep a big jar in the pantry and add dry ingredients that can be used as your next crumble topping. Some great things include...
The crumbs from the bottom of the cereal packet.
Crumbs from the bottom of the biscuit barrel or packet.
Left over cereals or museli.
Oatmeal, rolled oats, porridge.
Sultanas, nuts, other dried fruits.
Biscuits that no one liked much!
Anything that is not already crushed I put in a snap lock bag and belt it with the rolling pin and in it goes. As long as things are dry they will keep in your jar ready for your next crumble.
In the fridge I keep left over nuts. Crushed these are beautiful in your crumble toppings.
When you need a topping you melt some butter, add some flour, brown sugar plus some of your mix and that is it!
My best ever crumble was very simple. I greased a baking dish and 3/4 filled it with sliced and peeled peaches. These were sweet so I added the smallest sprinkle of sugar.
In a bowl I melted butter, maybe half a cup or so, and added flour, brown sugar and crushed walnuts. I added a dash of cinnamon. I tasted it to see if it was sweet enough, so just go by taste. It should be delicious.
Once this was crumbly I sprinkled it in a thick layer over my peaches and baked it until the crumble was golden and I could see the fruit was bubbly.
Served with cream this was just beautiful. Crumbles soak up cream or ice cream like a sponge. Custard is the other obvious addition.
As we always have nuts in the house I include some crushed nuts now in my topping. But you can adapt your toppings to suit yourself and be nut free or gluten free or whatever you wish.
Crumbles used to be something our Grandmothers made and for good reason. But now they are "in fashion" again I notice as the cooking shows and restaurants have been featuring them (along with a lot of good old fashioned comfort foods).
I made one on the weekend and I used a tin of pie apricots as Andy loves apricots. He worked all weekend so I made special dinners. I used the flour, butter, brown sugar, crushed walnut mix. It was beautiful and as it was raining outside a cooked desert was a treat. We don't have desert every night. It is either special or when I feel dinner was a bit light on or when I am serving soup as a main. Then I get a meal from less and top it up with desert. To me desert can be used as a way to bulk out a meal when you need to do that.
I just love that you can make something so good from fading fruit and remnants saved up from cereals etc. You feel as if you have made something wonderful out of thin air.
Recipes that use up our leftovers, stretch a meal, make the most of the times when we have too much of something and help the budget overall are just so good. Pizza is a good one. So many bits and pieces work as toppings! And so many things work as bases.
Some others I find really useful are impossible pies, fried rice, sweet or savory scones (biscuits), pancakes, corn bread, custards... baked, rice, creme caramel, soups, stews, mornay, bread and butter puddings, muffins. All of these have great use it up potential as you can vary the ingredients so much.
Some things that stretch a meal like a casserole or meat meal are yorkshire puddings, vegetable side dishes, dumplings, corn bread, bread rolls, rice, mashed or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, potato bake and Nan's tomato casserole.
Left overs and bits and pieces take on all sorts of possibilities when you have highly adaptable recipes. So that is something I am working on in following posts. It helps us eliminate waste and be creative!
What are your "use it up" recipes and recipes for when you really need to stretch a meal to go further?
Mimi recently said that she was trying to hold back one ingredient where possible when making a meal. Just adding one thing less. This over time was giving her ingredients to make another meal, or toward another meal. I thought this is really good. I often add more than I need. Economy wise and calorie wise this is a winner! You can kind of make a little game of it.
Another saver is to try and go just one more day before you shop. To have a use up every left over day and stretch your supplies out just an extra day. This can call for some inventiveness! But over a year this can be a big saving!
Combined I hope our ideas can help each others budgets.
I want to tell you a little thing. When we travelled recently we went through a lot of country towns. Increasingly we have noticed how many empty shops there are. How houses look run down and gardens dead. We have seen the gradual decline in many places we have visited but also in places we have lived. Tonight Andy was talking to his friend on the phone. His friend is a very industrious hard worker. (Also way out in the country). Andy said how he is finding it tough. People are not spending and there is no money around... so his business is very low and everyone else's are too. So he will do anything at all for a dollar and is taking on all kinds of random extra things. Each time we speak to someone from this area the report is a little bit worse.
I am not saying this is everywhere but we are noticing it where we live. Around here empty shops and closing shops are just the norm now.
So I think there is a great need for helps like the blogs we talk about, for blogs like The Cheapskates Club and My Abundant Life, for economical recipes like Mimi posts and for learning skills to do better, cook better, DIY, live frugally and happily... all of these things. The need must be there and people must be looking. And for us, the more we learn the better! The more we build up our pantries the better!
Have a wonderful week!