A Rotorua woman's creative spin on boil-up leftovers when there was nothing else to feed her family has paid dividends. Her recipe for Boil-up Croquettes has taken out top honours in a Facebook recipe competition.
Letitia Paul, who was already experienced in cooking nourishing family meals on a budget, told Newshub she came up with her winning recipe idea one evening when she had nothing but a bowl of boil-up leftovers to make dinner.
A boil-up is an economical method of cooking, using root vegetables and meat, boiled in a stockpot.
Paul says she struggled to see how the small bowl of food would be enough to feed everyone and had to employ a little creativity.
"I've always tried to nourish my family properly regardless of the food budget, which often means using up every scrap of leftovers," she said.
She got innovative, combining the leftover meat and vegetables with a large dollop of mayonnaise and rolling the mixture in breadcrumbs to make crumbed croquettes.
She was then inspired to share her croquette creation after learning of the Best Foods Best Kiwi Recipe Challenge.
"There was one more day left to enter the competition, so I stayed up all night thinking about the classic Kiwi recipes I'd made in the past using mayonnaise," she says.
"I really wanted to win in order to help get my family ahead, so I submitted four recipes, including the Boil-Up Croquettes and it has really paid off!"
With her recipe taking out the competition vote on Facebook, Paul won the top prize of $5,000. She says the money will go towards her small coffee cart business and her crusade to help other families working within tight food budgets.
Paul's own experience with food budgeting began two years ago when she and her husband left their jobs in Auckland to buy a home and their coffee cart in Rotorua, and found it difficult to make ends meet, especially during the winter months. Paul began growing her own vegetables and started cooking and baking everything from scratch.
"I would surprise myself with what I came up with and thought that other people going through a similar situation could benefit from these recipes, too," she says.
So Paul began sharing her recipes and tips on her own Facebook page. "I share how I shop and how I cook. I feel like careful meal planning and knowledge of how to feed your family on a low budget can take a bit of the financial burden off," she says.
Letitia says the $5000 she won is a welcome boost for her own family but she is also planning to use some of the money to buy food vouchers to give to others in need.
"I'm so grateful to everybody who voted for my recipe and also to Best Foods NZ for a prize that is going to make a big difference for my family.
"I still can't believe my bowl of leftovers won me $5000!"
The recipe for the croquettes can be found here .