I might plan my meals for the week but with a demo date changing and friends dropping in from interstate, suddenly the piece of meat that I bought on Saturday to eat on Monday is looking very sad by the time I get to cook dinner on Thursday.
Both Judith Jones’s book “The pleasure of cooking for one” and Delia Smith’s “One is fun!” book present the concept of linking meals to overcome some of the challenges faced in cooking for one.
What is a Progressive Ingredient?
Exploring this further I developed my idea of the Progressive Ingredient. An ingredient that can reappear multiple times during the week in vastly different guises eliminates the boredom factor and prevents me from wasting food.
There are two guidelines to working the progressive ingredient:
- The ingredients are ones that can’t be bought in small quantities, but can work in multiple ways and look completely different each time, and
- The recipes are based around foods that don’t go off quickly or are enhanced with store cupboard/ frozen ingredients.
So when I started applying these rules to my progressive ingredient concept (all recipes are at the end of this post) a typical weekly menu for me can consist of:
Sunday: day one- Healthy “roast” chicken (based on a Devil of a Cookbook recipe, page 81) or Sally’s roast chicken 3 ways on the Thermomix Recipe Community, which is a meal designed for a family. I use this on weekends when I cook dinner for a friend and myself. The quantity in the recipe, which is based on a whole chicken, still leaves plenty of chicken and vegetables to become my progressive ingredients for the coming week.
After my friend has left I strip the moist chicken meat off the carcass and set it aside and use the water that was in the TM bowl from steaming the chicken to be the beginning of a chicken stock. To this I add a few aromatic ingredients and a little more liquid and with the chicken bones still in the steamer basket cook for about 20 minutes to create a simple chicken stock that will be the basis for either a risotto or soup later in the week.
But my progressive ingredient concept doesn’t just stop with creating the stock. I have excess chicken meat and excess vegetables, (I did pumpkin, potatoes and broccoli) which will become the basis of lunches and dinners over the coming week.
The next morning my fruit juice is apple and celery. This means that I have half an apple and half a stick of celery that I need to use up. Solution: once I’ve made my fruit and veg juice I add the remaining apple, the ½ celery stick plus one more, a small amount of walnuts, a handful of my leftover chicken meat plus some fabulous TM mayonnaise (from the Everyday Cookbook) and give it a quick chop to create a fabulous chicken Waldorf salad for lunch.
For dinner that night I chose to make a chicken, pea and pumpkin risotto. I used excess pumpkin that I steamed with my “roast” dinner and a handful of the chicken meat.
Next day –
Steamed chicken makes a beautiful moist meat that is great cold and perfect for sandwiches, so next day’s lunch at work it’s a fantastic chicken sandwich.
Day three of my progressive ingredient is my favourite treat – roast chicken and vegetable sausage rolls. By having some puff pastry in the freezer and my Thermomix on the bench I can use just one sheet of puff pastry to make sufficient sausage rolls for a Wednesday night in front of the TV plus some for lunch later in the week. A really quick way of making sure I get my veggies and meat.
Thursday night is spicy pumpkin soup night, using up the remainder of the pumpkin that I bought on the weekend to go with the healthy roast. The quantity it makes is a hearty meal plus a good lunch to me.
So hopefully this gives you an idea of how by using my Thermomix and the concept of progressive ingredients I can create a week of fresh interesting meals, just 4Me.
I’m currently refining similar progressive ingredient weekly menus using fish and beef as the hero ingredients with winter fruit and vegetables.
Do you have favourite progressive ingredient?