As with most successes, planning is the key. With Christmas coming soon, no doubt preparation will be in full swing: food ordered, party menus and Christmas lunch all in hand. Well, perhaps nearly.
What about planning the post–Christmas celebrations? We have all been there looking at leftovers wondering how to make the best of them.
No one likes waste for a host of good reasons, expense being just one. Reusing and reinventing should be done with due diligence. Care needs to be taken to avoid cross contamination, clear labelling of allergens, use-by dates, reheating and storage all need careful consideration. And, from the perspective of vegans and vegetarians, not to mix animal products with vegan and vegetarian food. With this in mind, let your creative spirit run free and cut back on waste.
Why not embrace the leftovers and make them part of an event? For many, leftovers are part of Christmas traditions and Boxing Day can be more fun than Christmas Day, because it has a more relaxed feel. Why should this be any different if living in a care home?
One of the easiest ways to use up cooked vegetables is to make a bubble and squeak as a Boxing Day treat. Add chestnuts and top with chopped parsley for additional texture and colour.
Most vegetables can be added to soup, chilli, curry, cottage pie, pasta bakes, mac and cheese, bolognese, or used for fillings for pasties, pies, wraps, tacos, fritattas, and quiches. What about fritters, pakoras or potato cakes? All good options. Check out our website for a variety of recipes along these lines. In fact, we have four recipes for fritters. Simply swap the ingredients with what you have in. Type fritters into our searchable recipe database.
Biscuits and crackers can be used as a base for cheesecake, both sweet and savoury. Simply melt a little butter and crush the biscuits, combine, and press into a flan case. Top with cream cheese mixed with lemon zest and icing sugar. When chilled, top with your choice of berries. This is easy to make as a vegan option too, using dairy-free alternatives.
Most cakes can be used as a base for trifle, added to bread and butter pudding, pancakes, or served as an accompaniment to ice–cream. Even Christmas puddings can be used in this way.
Any unused cheese can be used in a variety of ways and of course frozen too, to enjoy another time. Classic cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks, pasta bakes, cheese and onion pies, pasties, crumbled onto soups – the options go on. And cheese is of course a great ingredient to fortify foods. If catering for vegetarians, do check that the cheese is in fact vegetarian.
Try our mac and cheese recipe, a great way to use up veg, and top with breadcrumbs and any leftover cheese.
Chocolate, in the unlikely event of having any spare, can be added to a variety of desserts, cakes, ice cream, or sauces. How about having a go at making pain au chocolat, milkshakes, or millionaire shortbread? You may want to try making banana bread with a little chocolate added, too. Or try these tasty hazelnut truffles to serve as a tasty treat between meals.
One note of caution with chocolates is that they tend to include a variety of allergens, particularly nuts and milk. The recipe links above are for vegan recipes, so if swapping to dairy make sure it’s labelled clearly.
What about ingredients with a long shelf-life? Stock rotation is key to good food management and if ingredients don’t need to be used for another year, they could be used as and when. But, do you really want a couple of jars of cranberry sauce or Christmas pudding taking up space in the store? Although many ingredients do have a clear association with Christmas they can be used in a non-festive recipe. Cranberry sauce is a lovely addition to any Sunday roast or even added to a homemade nut roast for a little sweetness. Add to sandwich fillings, filo parcels, quiches, cakes or muffins – the list goes on.
You can use up leftover mincemeat with our mincemeat muffins.
Whatever you choose to make and reinvent, have a wonderful Christmas and get creative with those leftovers.