April 17, 2024

Different ways to serve one dish to add variety

About 3 times a month I make what I call a pauper’s stew.  This is a stew that I make in the slow cooker with any thing that I have that needs using up (or fridge gravel as I call it).

The one that I made yesterday had 4oz mince, 2 small onions, 1  large carrot, some frozen beans, sweet corn and peas, some wild garlic leaves, tomato puree, lentils, wild garlic salt, potato and some vegetable stock, tomato powder, red and yellow pepper, and Cayenne pepper.

Another I made recently had 4 chicken legs, chicken stock, pumpkin, onions, green beans, sweet potato, white potato, carrot, cabbage, green pepper and milk and corn flour in.

Other things I add sometimes are beef stock, tins of tomato, courgette, spinach, sliced up radishes, small pasta, rice, barley, whole tomatoes, fresh herbs or spices etc.  They are literally made from what I have in and what I can find growing in the garden.

At times I will make them with out meat and they will have more beans in, our chickpeas.  If there is any meat in one I will brown it in a frying pan first with the onions as this seals the taste in.  Things cooked in the slow cooker can be a bit tasteless if you do not do this.

I usually fill the slow cooker and so it makes about enough for 6 meals (3 each for us).  I obviously don’t want to eat the same meal 3 times in one week.  Sometimes I will freeze some, but more often than not I will switch it up into another meal.  This is what I do to change the meal.

  1. Add different spices eg chilli or Moroccan spices if it is tomato based, or curry spices if it is chicken and serve with rice.
  2. Put a mashed potato top on it and serve it like a cottage pie.
  3. Serve with pasta if spiced up.
  4. Serve in a large Yorkshire pudding.
  5. Make a cobbler for the top with a savoury scone mixture.
  6. Serve with slices of a baguette on top smothered in wild garlic butter and baked in the oven or air fryer so that it is crispy.
  7. Serve with a savoury crumble on top.
  8.  Mix some with mashed potato, add some grated cheese and use as a filling for a pastie.
  9. Use as a filling for lasagne
  10. Use as a filling for a pie.
  11.  Water it down, add tomato puree and herbs or spices to flavour it and serves as soup. (I will often add bits of broken spaghetti or rice when I do this as well).
  12. Serve as a filling for a baked potato.
  13. Use as a filling for potato nachos.
  14. Use as a filling for tacos.
  15. Use as a filling for crispy wraps. (Put in a wrap, cheese added, folded and then crisped up in an air fryer.

Even though we sometimes eat the same dish during the week it never seems boring as we switch it up and serve it differently every time.  Mr S doesn’t even notice that it is the same meal sometimes.  Do you make a version of ‘pauper’s’ stew?



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  1. Katie Naden April 17, 2024 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Love this idea . I do something similar but use mainly for lasagne & then add potatoes & turnips etc to make hotpot with squares of pastry left over & baked & frozen(from pie or pastie making)
    I also cook in the slow cooker & if I add uncooked pasta & add more water it soaks up the juices really well .

    • ToniG April 18, 2024 at 6:16 am - Reply

      Brilliant. It is amazing what you can make out of the same dish. Mr S doesn’t even notice most of the time!

  2. Agnes April 17, 2024 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    I do similar but make into a soup. Whatever leftover meat which is nit enough for a meal, leftover cottage pie, mashed potatoes, veg, half tins of tomatoes or beans- goes in a pit with some stock, some spices, and voila, thick soup to feed the family🙂

    • ToniG April 18, 2024 at 6:11 am - Reply

      Good idea. I wish I liked soup more. I could live even more cheaply. Thanks for sharing

  3. Marilyn April 18, 2024 at 4:36 am - Reply

    Like you, I love to make meals that creatively use up leftovers. Soups are my favorite, as are cottage pies or tacos. It feels so good to use up all the leftovers in the refrigerator and make a new meal out of them! No food waste here – and if anything does not get eaten, I feed it to my chickens, so we eventually eat it again :)

    • ToniG April 18, 2024 at 6:09 am - Reply

      Great idea! Yes having no waste so much money and it feels good reducing land fill. Thanks for sharing

  4. Debbie April 19, 2024 at 11:07 am - Reply

    What a bunch of great ideas! I do love a good stew and I’ve never thought about adding mashed potatoes over it and making a pie out of it! Thanks for the tips :)

    • ToniG April 19, 2024 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      No worries. Thanks for the comments

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