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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cleaning out the fridge!

I thought I would share with you two of my favorite posts for saving money on food this month, they are oldies but goodies related to cleaning out the fridge!  

If you know me you know I'm a big believer in cleaning out my fridge often.  I do this about every 3-5 days so that food never has the chance to go bad!  It allows me to put things out and use them up before they go bad.  Most food only lasts (leftovers that is) about 3-5 days safely in the fridge.  So if you can use it or freeze it in that time span you can avoid waste.  Because I clean out my fridge so often it makes it very easy to do.  It goes quickly.  Mind you -- most of this cleaning is simply moving things around, and often I move things to the freezer!  I can't say this enough - label, label, label!! That little tidbit of meat might look like a banana in a zip lock bag and wouldn't make a lovely smoothie addition later.  Caution* -- if you intend to freeze things like garlic and onion, strong odors like fish, you want to do those on the same shelves as say your meat, rather than next to the bags of cut up frozen pineapple!  ( I might know this from personal experience- it goes without saying catfish flavored pineapple is um... disappointing!)  Here is how I clean out my fridge!

celery wrapped in aluminum foil will last much longer
When cleaning out my fridge originally I noticed that I routinely threw out certain things.  Fresh celery and bags of  lettuce spent more time in my trashcan than on our tables.  Those bags of slimy pre-cut lettuce, were expensive by the time you figured out I threw out half of them.  I was forever buying a bag, using a little salad and tossing the remainder of the bag in the garbage a week later. Does this sound familiar? Now, when I have bags of pre-cut lettuce I repackage them into a sealing plastic bag with a clean dry paper towel inside the bag.  I find they last much longer this way once opened.  Here again, Grandma's policy of putting everything in the fridge out on the table at meal times works to your advantage.  You're more likely to eat it if it's served.
But the real solution to the slimy salad conundrum is simply to buy heads of  Romaine lettuce.  Iceberg lasts a long time, but nutritionally it's not the greatest, it's really the equivalent of water, which is fine, but not the powerhouse, that green leafy lettuces and spinach are. The darker green is better for more nutrients.  Heads of fresh Romaine lettuce will last a really long time in the fridge.  And if they start to look bad, you can chop of the tops or peel off the outer layers and usually find a decent salad in there somewhere.  Trust me, go Romaine-- you won't regret it!

And the celery, that slimy soggy mess in the back of the drawer.....well, for one thing I don't buy it as much as I used to.  Only when I know I want fresh for a chicken salad or something of that nature, but I've found a way of storing it that helps it last longer too.  I wrap mine in aluminum foil, it stays crisp and lasts much longer, giving me more opportunity to get my money's worth out of it!  And if you are lacking in ideas for using those things up-- here's another helpful post from the past.  What to do with celery, onions, fresh garlic




Friday, May 8, 2015

Shopping

Here is an example of my mindset when I shop.This is from September so the seasonal items are not on sale in April-- but it gives you the idea.

I went to safeway because I needed cheese for tonight's (Friday) dinner.  I checked my ad list and saw that cheese was on sale.  I also noticed from my list that fresh corn was on sale this week (6 ears for $1), and organic plums were $1.99 a pound.  On a Friday Only sale was Heinz ketchup in a 30 oz. container (The kind with no HFCS).  So yesterday when I was looking to see where cheese was on sale I decided to go on Friday so I could take advantage of the ketchup sale too.  While I was at Safeway I checked all the usual clearance spots and found organic soy sauce, organic tamari and rice vinegar on clearance.  I stocked up on those items because they meet all my stock up criteria.  (Good quality food, food that we will eventually use, non-perishable food, food that I normally would buy) The eggs were $1.52 which is more than I will normally pay for them ( I try for under a dollar), but since I filled out Safeways online registration for coupons I got them for free. In addition I also got a coupon that printed out because I purchased kikkoman sauces for $2.00 off our next shopping trip.   I am kicking myself because I had a coupon for 20% off of Safeway produce so I could have saved that had I remembered my coupon so I may bring the coupon and reciept with me soon, get more of the kikkoman sauces if they are still on sale ( see if another coupon prints out) and really clean up! 

What I got:                                                                            What I paid for it:
3 jars of ketchup  $1.49 each                                                 $4.47
3 kikkoman organic soy sauce $1.69 each                              $5.07
2 kikkoman tamari sauce (also organic) $1.39 each                $2.78           
3 kikkoman rice vinegar $0.92 each                                       $2.76
1 dozen eggs                                                                          FREE
1 2 pound bag of shredded cheese                                         $5.99
6 ears of corn (6 for $1)                                                         $1
organic black plums ($1.99 a pound)                                      $4.84

Total Charged                                                                        $26.92

*$2.00 off next trip to Safeway

So now that you've seen my example of a shopping trip let me explain it a bit.  It's a great example of eating according to what is in season (stone fruit and corn on the cob), cherry picking (buying only the sale items -eggs, produce, ketchup, and not getting lured in by other things (baked goods, convenience foods)).  And stocking up when prices are good (kikkoman sauces, and the ketchup). 

             

Waste Not Want Not!

Did you know that on average most people throw away over 25% of all the food they buy?

That really ads up when you are talking about buying all organic and local food.  It's Tuesday morning and I cleaned out my fridge on Monday (trash day) and found some dregs -- here is my plan for them today.  (I normally try to clean out my fridge twice a week to avoid waste.)  The above foods might not seem like much to throw away -- but why?  They are all still perfectly fine if used soon. I would bet you might look at these and think they were beyond their useful life.  The cucumbers are a bit squishy, with some wrinkled up ends and probably a couple spots of mold-I cut those parts off, the peaches don't look perfect, and the pears are pretty brownish and soft. 

Here is what I found:

1.three bottles of a smoothie mix that no one will eat (I didn't pay full price for these - mind you- pricey drinks like this don't fit in the budget) 
2. 3 slightly goneish cucumbers
3. several goneish bosc pears
4. several nearly goneish peaches
5.  an old jar of kefir
6. an old banana
7.  a package of markdown sausages

And what I did with it:

The smoothie I made used up one cucumber, two pears, the banana and about half of the jar of greens.  The other half of the jar of greens I poured into an ice cube tray and froze for later smoothies.  If I had spinach, lettuce, kale or chard I could add these too and whatever frozen fruit I have too. Sometimes I put in homemade kombucha, bee pollen, vitamin D, egg protein powder, and honey to taste.


The remainder of the pears were good enough for fresh eating so I took off the brown parts and cut them up and served them alongside the smoothies and sausages for breakfast. 

I sliced up the peaches to go with dinner tonight as a side dish. 

The remainder of cucumbers got sliced up and will be served tonight with dinner - which is kheema over brown rice, hummus, veggies, and pita breads. 

I also cooked up the sausages and those will likely get gobbled immediately.  I found them at our local Target store on markdown for $2.37 on Sunday with a $.50 off coupon that makes them $1.87 for just under a pound.  (Normally we would use our homemade deer sausage for breakfast but last year my DH didn't go hunting and we are out)

Now if I wasn't in the mood for smoothies here are some other things I could've done with those dregs:  

Cucumbers -
cucumber salad, slice them up for veggies to dip with lunch, in my tuna salad or let the kids have them with dressing or dip, or hummus, make easy pickles out of them

Bosc pears -
slice them up and peel them for the little ones to eat, poach them with a bit of honey and lemon in the oven or skillet, make pear cake and freeze or enjoy it fresh, slice them up and put them in a skillet with a bit of butter (or coconut oil) some nutmeg, and sweetener-probably sucanat, and serve them warm over pancakes or plain as a dessert after tonight's dinner, blend them up and make dehydrated fruit rolls out of them, or cut and freeze them in a baggie for smoothies later.

Peaches-
Peach cobbler as dessert, peach pie, warm peach compote, grill them, slice for fresh eating with dinner tonight (I almost always serve at least two veggies and one fresh or home canned fruit with dinner to extend it out and give my kids plenty of choices), blend them with some sweetener-probably stevia and pour over plain yogurt, or put the puree in a marinade for something like chicken or pork, cut them up and use them for smoothies or jam later.

Kefir- 
use it in soaked oatmeal or soaked pancakes for tomorrows breakfast, or in pancakes, save it for later--truthfully probiotic drinks, and cultured foods last much beyond their sell by dates -- I rarely if ever throw them away.  This is one place where buying the old markdowns in the supermarket really pays off!! Good cultured sour cream, cottage cheese, kefir, and yogurts will last at least a month past their sell by dates when unopened and can be frozen.  When they are questionable - not moldy, stinky or sour tasting you can still use them in baked goods if you aren't comfortable eating them fresh because you will be heating them and killing any potentially bad bacteria.  Soured milk, etc has been used in baked goods for centuries.  Our grandmothers and Great Grandmothers knew it still had value and even if it may not seem "normal" in our germophobic world it is perfectly safe and even desirable as it lends a terrific flavor and great nutrient value to food. 

Banana-
Freeze it just like it is- skin and all and use it later to make pancakes or baked goods.  Peel it, break it into chunks and put it in a bag label it and save it to use later in smoothies, baked goods, or mock ice cream.  Fry it in coconut oil and serve it as a snack or part of breakfast.  Eat it plain or slice it and put it in warm cereal or on top of granola.  If you have lots you can slice and dehydrate them into banana chips. 

Markdown sausages-
I could use these as dinner tonight- one of my favorite meals is a package of any kind of sausage an onion and either some sliced squash (frozen or fresh- think zucchini or yellow summer squash) or a head of cauliflower and a tad of nutmeg!  I could simply freeze them too and use them later. 

One of the biggest keys to maintaining a food budget is managing your losses.. restaurants know this, well, the successful ones do!! Rethink what you are throwing away and you'll be amazed at how much money you can save.