I am a huge fan of the Once-a-Month Cooking concept. But I don’t actually do my cooking all in one day. Instead, my freezer cooking follows the mid-century idea of “planned overs.” Using this strategy, I can stretch my food budget a little while filling my freezer with lots of healthy frozen meals. This blog post shows how you can make easy ham and bean soup using “planned overs.”
What is Planned Over Freezer Cooking™?
When I started collecting vintage cookbooks and trying out the recipes, I noticed that a lot of them called for using “leftovers” from other meals. As I dug deeper, I discovered the concept of preparing a meal, such as ham, with the intention of using the leftover ham in other dishes being served the same week. The cookbooks were calling them “planned overs.”
Since there are just two of us, I took it a step further and started freezing the leftovers from the planned overs. The result is that I only have to cook from scratch a couple of times per month.
For the next few weeks, the vintage recipes I share with you will focus on Planned Over Freezer Cooking ™. This week: Our first recipe uses the planned overs from a whole ham.
Go Ahead, Buy that Whole Ham!
Have you ever stopped to consider how much meat you can get from a whole ham? I love, love, love buying hams after holidays. You’ll find spiral hams with crazy glazing packets in a closeout bin. The ham is perfectly fine but the only person who thought that a particular glaze would be good is the person who ordered forty cases of the ham. I toss out the glaze that comes with the ham and make my own.
And then the fun begins! According to FoodSafety.gov, you can freeze cooked ham for 1-2 months. If I’m not going to use the leftover ham within a few days of opening the package, I cut it into chunks or groups of slices and toss the bags into the freezer to use in a planned over recipe.
The Hambone is Connected to the Stock Pot
I promised a crazy easy ham and bean soup. And it is now time for the main event!
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to worry about getting as much ham as possible off of the hambone. Because you will be using it in this crazy easy soup.
Here are the ingredients:
- One pound of dried beans (I prefer the 15-bean bags but really any dried bean will work)
- One onion coarsely chopped
- Olive oil
To make the soup:
- Rinse and check the beans to make sure there aren’t any small rocks hiding in them. Soak them overnight in about 8 cups of water in a stockpot.
- The next day, pour the beans and water through a colander and rinse again.
- Heat a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of the stock pot. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the hambone and the beans.
- Add enough water to cover the bone and beans (this is why I suggest a stockpot).
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook on low for about four hours or until the meat falls off of the bone and the beans are soft.
- Remove the bones and serve with crusty bread! Serve the soup. Not the bones.
Planned Over Freezer Cooking™ Ham and Bean Soup
I freeze the soup in Ball’s 1 1/2 pint canning jars*. These larger jars enable me to put two cups of soup (two servings) in the jar while still leaving a lot of room for expansion when the liquid freezes. As long as they aren’t overfilled, Ball says they are safe for freezing.
Aside from the dinner for two when I make the soup, I can usually fill four or five 1 1/2 pint canning jars to freeze. If we have the soup once per week, that is four weeks where I just have to add a salad and bread for a nice and healthy meal. And much tastier than a soup from a can to boot!
Note: I’ve been freezing soup in canning jars for about 15 years and have only had one crack on me in the freezer. The main things to keep in mind when using canning jars is that they need to have enough expansion room at the top and they have to be absolutely strait up and down. The traditional jars with “shoulders” (that curve at the top of the jar) are not rated freezer safe.
Your Turn to Share
What do you usually do with the leftover hambone from a holiday ham? Do you make soup or do you do like I did when we were first married: I froze it and then forgot it was there until it was time to move. I told you in the About Me section that I didn’t know what I was doing back then!
Do you have a favorite ham and bean soup recipe that would be perfect for Planned Over Freezer Cooking™?
To your well planned freezer cooking,
*This is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and decide to order the canning jars from them, Amazon will pay me a small referral fee. Thank you for supporting Modern Retro Woman!