Progressive Ingredients

green vegWhat is a Progressive Ingredient?

The more I reflected on cooking just for me the more I realised it wasn’t just about having recipes with quantities for one. The single household faces many other challenges in relation to food.

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.

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.

Dinner that night is a winter vegetable soup made using the chicken stock and some of the veggies (uncooked) that I bought for the roast dinner.

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?


Apple and Celery juice just 4Me
Team this refreshing juice with the chicken Waldof salad to make best use of the other 1/2 of the apple.

½ apple, cut in half
½ a stick of celery cut into thirds
Small piece of fresh ginger (to taste)
8 ice cubes
Half a glass of water

Add apple, celery, ginger and ice cubes to TM bowl and pulverise for 15 seconds on speed 8. Add water and mix for 2 minutes on speed 9.

Chicken Waldorf salad 4Me
This is a quick lunch to take to work, Make it after you have made Apple and Celery juice and there’s no need to wash the TM bowl before you start.

½ Apple, cut in half (ie quarters)
1 ½ sticks of celery roughly chopped
Handful of cooked chicken (leftover from the Healthly roast chicken or Chicken cooked 3 ways recipe)
Small handful of walnut halves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp TM31 mayonnaise

Chicken, pea and pumpkin risotto just4Me
Risotto is such a great store cupboard dinner, especially when you have chicken and pumpkin in the fridge.

20 g Parmesan cheese, cubed
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled
A few sprigs of parsley
10 g of olive oil
90 g Italian Arborio Rice
75 g white wine (or dry vermouth)
175 g home-made chicken stock
90 g of pumpkin in cubes (already steamed)
50 g of frozen peas
A small handful of cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste


Place the Parmesan cheese into TM bowl and grate for 10 seconds on speed 8. Set aside in separate bowl.
Put garlic, parsley and spring onions in the bowl and chop for 4 seconds on speed 6.
Add oil & butter and sauté for 2 minutes at 100C on Speed 1 with MC off.
Add rice and wine then sauté for 2 minutes at 100C on Reverse Soft Speed
Add stock, and cook for 12 minutes on Reverse Soft Speed 1.
Add pumpkin, frozen peas and chicken and stir on Speed 1 Reverse for 1 minute. Turn out risotto into Thermoserve and add in a handful of parmesan.  Stir to combine and let the risotto sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Winter Soup
A comforting soup and makes a dinner if served with toast or crusty bread

1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 small potato, peeled and quartered
10 g of olive oil
500 g chicken stock
A handful of winter veg roughly chopped (cauliflower or broccoli or a turnip or swede)
A small handful of shredded steamed chicken

Place onion and potato in TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7.
Add olive oil and sauté for 2 minutes on 100° C on speed 1.
Add vegetables. Chop for 10 seconds on speed 7.
Add stock and cook for 15 minutes on 100° C on speed 1.
Blend for 15 to 20 seconds by slowly going from speed 1 to speed 9.

Roast and Veggie Sausage Rolls

This recipe  is a great way to give a new look to leftover roast meat and vegetables. In fact it’s worth doing extra when making a roast and veg  just to be able to makes these yummy snacks. This recipes makes 4 regular size sausage rolls or 8 small. How many meals this is depends on your appetite!

1 clove of garlic, peeled
170 g of roast chicken meat (can use lamb, pork or beef leftover roast meat)
60 g leftover steamed vegetables
50 g breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Herbs of your liking to go with your filling ( eg thyme or oregano)
1 egg
1 sheet of pre-bought puff pastry thawed
1 egg (for egg wash)

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment.
Place garlic into TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds on speed 7.
Add chicken( or meat you are using), vegetables, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, herbs and egg to TM bowl, mix for 10 seconds on speed 5 to incorporate ingredients.
Cut puff pastry sheet in half. Spoon a long strip of mixture along the bottom half of each pastry sheet. Brush along it with egg wash.
Roll the pastry lengthwise into a sausage around the chicken mixture tucking the pastry edges underneath the roll.
Cut each sausage roll in half ( or 1/4 if making small size). Place on greased baking tray brush with egg wash.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

This is an update on a great classic dish that makes enough for a hearty dinner with some left for lunch the next day… or enough to share.

1  onion, peeled and quartered
1  small chilli, roughly chopped
10 g of oil of your choice
Half a butternut pumpkin with skin and seeds roughly chopped
250 g of chicken stock (or water with half a tablespoon of TM  vegetable stock concentrate)

Place onion and chilli in TM bowl and chop for 3 seconds on speed 7.
Add oil and sauté for 2 minutes at 100° C on speed 1.
Add pumpkin. Chop for 10 seconds on speed 7.
Add stock and cook for 15 minutes at 100°C on speed 1.
Blend for 15 to 20 seconds by slowly going from speed 1 to speed 9.

One Response to Progressive Ingredients

  1. Neil says:

    How do you handle something like capsicum? I love it but it generally comes in one size: large.
    OK there is relatively little flesh compared to its volume but it always daunts me because of its size.

    I thought the first step could be to stuff it and bake that, then use the bits left over in stews.

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