It’s no wonder I have sort of wild spending habits—squeezing every last nickel one minute and burning through the cash the next. My very DNA is at war with itself. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way food was viewed by my parents two families. Take, for example, a 4-pound roast beef. In my dad’s family, when he was growing up, this would serve as a meal for four.
One single meal for four people.
They would have viewed my mom’s family as miserabiles, “miserable from their own hunger”, as my grandfather would say. For, you see, my maternal grandmother would stretch that same roast out for days upon days. It was in this spirit that I attacked our own roast last week.
[I didn’t get a picture of it, in any of its forms, but close your eyes and conjure up a succulent roast beef at this point. It was medium-rare. OK, come on back.]
Day 1: Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, glazed carrots.
This was a big day: my first attempt at roast. My mom made a roast just about every Sunday when I was growing up. For some reason, I found the whole idea of preparing this meal completely overwhelming, even though Mom kept telling me how easy it was. I refused to believe her. It’s a fancy meal!, I thought. With gravy! Besides, she usually even made a layer cake for dessert most of the time, so her definition of do-able was already different than my own.
The rest of the family used to use the time while Mom was preparing the finishing touches on said meal to get into a rip-roaring fight. Then we’d hear the words (say it with me, Family) “It must be Sunday night!” coming from the kitchen, a signal to us that dinner was almost ready, and we were about to ruin it. These words echoed in my ears as both of my own kids started melting down just as I was stirring the gravy. Except it was a Saturday, so it didn’t make as much sense when I was yelling it.
It’s these little things that give you so much more of an appreciation for your parents.
Where were we? Ah, yes, the roast. Well, it was totally easy (season the meat with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven) and delicious, and much more than we could eat at one sitting.
And now, what to do with the rest? Help me, Grandma B.; you’re my only hope.
Day 2: French Dip Sandwiches
Heat up some leftover slices in beef broth, throw it on some crusty bread, and pop the whole sandwich in the oven. Add some provolone, if you’re cheese people like us. Use the broth for dipping. Yum!
Day 3: Beef Noodle Soup
Maybe you happen to come across a Swanson’s ad featuring a recipe for chicken noodle soup and think to yourself, as I did, “Say. . .I have an almost full carton of beef broth. . .and beef. . .and carrots!”, and then whip up some soup. Maybe it’s not the most exciting soup you’ve ever eaten, but it’ll keep body and soul together. And it will keep you from having to throw out the almost-full carton of broth in three weeks, which is a special bonus, and maybe something of a first.
Day 4: Taco Night!
Yep. That bag of corn tortillas won’t be hitting the trash either, thanks to the roast remnants.
We also had a couple of lunches thanks to that bad boy, making it one of the best runs ever when it comes to stretching leftovers.
Now if I could come up with something like that every week, that would be awesome.