A hurricane, a Nor’easter, two power outages, and two trash cans full of perfectly good food later, I’m suddenly all about using up the food in my fridge before it goes bad or is otherwise thrown out. It’s taken my husband and me a long time to settle into somewhat of a dinner routine; before I quit my second job, and as hubby often works side jobs into the evening, dinner times were often unpredictable and many times we chose to fend for ourselves rather than sit down together for a very late meal. We would grocery shop like Europeans, making a daily trip to the store to buy only what we needed for that night’s meal, only to return again the next day if we knew we were eating at home. I thought we were being smart about it, not buying a week’s worth of groceries that would only go to waste if our schedules didn’t match up. After throwing away painful amounts of food (twice!), however, I realized that, in reality, we ended up with a lot of extra, unused items in our fridge as a result of our strategy, like produce and condiments. We decided we needed a new approach, and we’ve been trying to plan meals for the week, or at least a few days at a stretch, to cross-utilize ingredients throughout the week and hopefully reduce unused leftovers in the fridge.
I realize this approach is not entirely ground breaking, but I hope it resonates with some of you. I’m sure there are some folks out there, no matter how many healthy appetites are in your households, and despite your best efforts, that still find yourselves throwing out wasted or unutilized food. One of my new favorite solutions to this problem is the Chicken Pot Pie. It’s quick, easy, adaptable, and can be made ahead and frozen if desired. I like this recipe because I can toss in whatever leftover produce I have on hand, which is often the first to go to waste in our household. Sometimes, if I end up with more filling than will fit in one pie, I’ll freeze the rest and save it for when I buy another set of crusts. The recipe is below but, first, my thoughts…
- Use leftover, cooked chicken or the pre-cooked, sliced chicken in the heat-and-eat section of the grocery store (often priced 2-for-one, and I use two packs)
- Pre-made, pre-rolled unfrozen pie crust makes this recipe so easy
- Fresh or frozen veggies can be used. Here is where I use whatever leftover vegetables I have on hand, or I’ll use frozen mixed veggies.
- The ingredients in this recipe are already pre-cooked (e.g. the chicken), so cook time is quicker.
Chicken Pot Pie
1 package prepared unfrozen double-crust pie crust
2 packages heat-and-eat sliced chicken breast
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
¼ cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese
Chopped fresh dill, if desired
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Line a pie plate with one crust, fill with chicken-vegetable mixture, and top with second crust. Crimp edges with your fingers or a fork to seal. Cut vents in the top crust, brush with extra milk for some color, and top with extra shredded cheese if desired. The pot pie can be frozen at this point, or bake in a 350 degree oven until the crust is golden brown.