Good Friday morning, everyone!
One of the best ways to save on your food budget is to buy seasonally. Berries are cheapest in the summer, apples in the fall, and citrus fruits in the winter. But what about meat? Thanks to traditional holiday meals, grocery stores love to compete for your business by running terrific promotions on turkey near Thanksgiving, and ham near Easter. Sometimes you can even get them free by accumulating points as the holiday approaches. Check out what your local grocery is offering!
Well, Easter is coming (It’s on April Fools Day this year, which feels weird), and the ham promotions will be starting up soon. I love these deals. Even if I’m not hosting the holiday meal, I take advantage of the opportunity to get a great deal on a big ham, because I know it will feed my little family four times! Of course, if your family is larger than mine, you may only get two or three meals from a ham. But even if you have a big brood, or you’re hosting the holiday and probably won’t get any leftovers, you can still get two meals from a bone-in ham. Here’s how…
Meal One: Ham Dinner
This is an easy one. Most ham in America is sold smoked, so pre-cooked. Look for a bone-in ham, and prepare it according to package directions. Slice off what you need for the first meal.
I like a spiral-sliced ham, because they’re easy to deal with, and you get nice, even slices. For Christmas this year, I served a cheesy mashed cauliflower side with our ham, but you can always go with the more traditional mashed potatoes or cheesy potatoes. Green beans are a nice, fresh, and easy veggie with dinner. Whatever you like to serve with your dinner, keep in mind that ham is salty, and chose side dishes that won’t add to the sodium overload! Likewise, because you’re probably coming from Easter service at church, chose side dishes that can be made ahead of time or thrown together quickly at the last minute.
After your meal is done and the rest of the ham has cooled, begin taking it apart. Store cubed leftover meat in 2-cup quantities in zipper storage bags or reusable storage containers. Get out as much air as possible to keep the meat fresher tasting.
Meal Two: Bean and Ham Soup
In the interest of full-disclosure, this is a recipe I originally found on Money Saving Mom, but have tweaked over the years.
7 cups of water
1 (1 lb.) bag of navy beans
3 bay leaves
4-5 pieces of bacon
1 small onion
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
The night before you plan on making this, sort the beans and soak them over night. If you forget, you can use the quick soak method by boiling 6 cups of water with the dry beans. Boil for two minutes, remove from heat, and let stand, covered, fro an hour. Rinse and drain.
On the day you make the soup, place the ham bone in a heavy pot with the water. Add the bay leaves and some black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain the ham broth, and add it, along with the softened beans, to the slow cooker. There will probably be some chunks of ham that were clinging to the bone. Feel free to throw them into the slow cooker as well.
Chop up the bacon and onion into small pieces. Pan fry until onions are soft and bacon is done, but not crisp. Remove from pan and add to the slow cooker
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Add milk or heavy cream, and continue to cook about 15 minutes more.
I’m hungry just typing that out!
Meal Three: Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
This one is an old family favorite, just a classic creamy comfort food that’s perfect for a cold evening.
4-5 Med-large potatoes
1/2 Cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk (slightly warmed)
Leftover ham (cubed)
Cheddar cheese (optional but highly recommended)
Peel the potatoes, and slice them evenly using a knife or a mandolin. Combine the potatoes and chopped onion, and place them in a greased baking dish.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add flour and stir, cooking for about one minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a slightly thickened roux.
Mix the roux with the potatoes and onions. Add the ham cubes. Stir to combine, then sprinkle the top with cheddar (optional). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Uncover and bake a few extra minutes to brown the cheese.
Meal Four: Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Sandwiches
This recipe is a really simple idea, but fun and kid-friendly.
Leftover ham, sliced thin
1 Roll of crescent roll dough
Unroll the dough and pinch the seams shut to form one sheet of dough. Flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the dough with cheddar cheese, and lay out the ham. Roll up the dough, pinching the seam at the end. Slice the roll into 8 pieces and place in a baking dish (like cinnamon rolls). Bake according the the directions on the crescents package until golden brown.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and a way to stretch your Easter ham into four tasty meals! If you have a favorite way to use leftover ham, share it in the comments!