“This, Mum, is the second best invention ever”, declared Joe, in between mouthfuls of yet another snack to keep the wolves away until the main event. He was eating some leftover pasta out of a seemingly ordinary plastic box. But, oh no … he wasn’t singing the praises of the pasta; or the wonders of microwave technology but instead he was referring to our new family fridge process which I’m calling “The Saving Ravenous Teenagers from Imminent Starvation Process“.
So it goes like this …
We have some new square plastic boxes from Lakeland – all with colourful lids – and I fill these with any leftovers from our family meals. That’s not to say that we get many leftovers, in fact most of the time I long for leftovers (in fact ‘longingforleftovers.com’ was my second choice blog name) but there’s always something I can rustle up to fill a box or two. And I’m rapidly realising that teenage boys just want FOOD.
Joe’s dream life has at its core a gigantic fridge – most probably straight out of a scene from Scooby Doo. It would be filled with multi-layered, protein-rich sandwiches … all plated up and ready to go … as well as chicken legs – lots of them. No fuss should be necessary to prepare the food; he must be able to eat it without delay and, I will add in here, there should be minimal need to trash the whole kitchen in order to be ready to eat.
Anyway, back to the boxes …
The fridge process goes like this … Teenage boys are free to help themselves to the contents of any of the coloured boxes. No need to ask first. The only rule is that they must be eaten in the order that they are stacked (ie top down) so that we get a bit of stock rotation going on.
Free rein on boxes for those pesky kids is almost a Scooby Doo dream come true – even without a mystery to solve or a chase from a headless ghoul – and it also ensures that the rest of the leftovers that I had earmarked for other things are still there when I return to use them.
This, I’ll have you know, is the second best invention ever.
I’m not sure that it really matters what goes into the boxes. This week there has been –
- pesto pasta
- goulash with leftover rice and vegetables
- goulash with leftover mash and vegetables
- chicken, olive and tomato pasta
- normal soup
- ‘start of the week’ soup
- curry and rice (from a takeaway)
But one dish that does work really well for teenage boys and the whole family, whether or not it is in a plastic box, is Sausage and Bean Hotpot. It’s based on a Nigel Slater recipe and is an all time winner.
- it’s quick and easy to throw together
- it can be made in advance
- it reheats like a dream, even in a flask for lunch the next day (probably cut up the sausages for ease of eating)
- it’s made with easily available ingredients. Choose whichever sausages are your favourites and which ever beans you have to hand. I favour a couple of tins of flageolet or butter beans, but the mixed beans also work well.
- it freezes well (up to the end of stage 4)
- and it works perfectly in a “Saving Ravenous Teenagers from Imminent Starvation” box.
So, if our colourfully lidded plastic boxes are the 2nd best invention ever, what, pray tell, is the BEST invention ever? Well, it was a surprise for me too – a recent kitchen purchase … the bamboo tongs for rescuing stubborn toast out of the toaster (without the need to unplug, get a knife etc). Also purchased from Lakeland. In addition to performing their job well, they also have a magnetic handle so there is much comedy value to be had by attaching the tongs to weird and wonderful kitchen corners. Oh how we laughed.
Lakeland – we love you and I think YOU, Lakeland, are the BEST invention ever.
- 800g plump sausages - choose your favourites and no need to be precise on quantity here
- 2 x 400g tins flageolet beans, drained & rinsed
- 2 x 400g tins mixed beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 x 1kg jar of passata
- 3 - 4 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 3 tomatoes, halved
- small handful parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 230ºC, 450ºF (gas mark 8).
- Grill the sausages until golden on each side.
- Mix the beans, passata and mustard in an ovenproof casserole.
- Add the sausages, pushing them a little under the tomatoey, beany mixture. If you want to freeze this dish, do it at this stage and add the tomatoes when it comes out of the freezer.
- Arrange the tomatoes on the top, cut side up.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until everything is bubbling and lightly browned on top.
- Scatter over the parsley.