Not long ago I read that you should not place your fruits and vegetables into the drawers that are provided for that use in our refrigerators.  Of course I though that can’t be right, why would they be there if it was for the storage of fruits and vegetables?  I had to check this out.
fruits and vegetables
Well, after moving my fruits and vegetables to one of the shelves in my refrigerator, using two of those small plastic baskets you can by at any dollar store, for a week, I found the article was right.  By having the fruits and vegetables where I could see them, I used them more often and had less waste in my food and food budget.

So now my fresh foods are on the shelf and my ketchup, mustard and mayo are kept in the drawers. Sometimes we just need to rethink things in a new light to get a better look at them.  I love having my favorite foods up where I can see them and know what I have on hand.  Not only do I eat more of them but it stops me from buying extra and wasting my food budget.

Did you know that fresh corn on the cob, should not be stored in the refrigerator?  By doing so, you allow it’s natural sweet flavor to turn to starch, loosing it’s moisture, thus becoming hard to eat and digest.  Store it with it’s natural covering left on, for up to 48 hours, in the coolest part of your pantry. Generally on the bottom shelf or floor.   Fresh corn should be eaten as soon as possible.

Another [fruit] vegetable, Tomatoes, should not be stored in the fridge either.  They also loose most of their natural sweetness in the cold.  Keep a pretty bowl on your counter and let their beauty shine.

As I keep saying, savings are all around us, we just need to keep our minds and eyes open to them.

What is your favorite savings tip, comment below?

Sometimes it’s just hard to come up with a recipe to feed a large group for breakfast.  One of these recipes could be your answer to that problem.

Veggie Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

You will need:

1 12-16 ounce package of Country Sausage

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

9 eggs, beaten

1-2 Cups of fresh veggies, chopped in bite size pieces

[carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers, etc]

If you don’t have fresh, frozen will do but do not use canned. There is too much liquid in canned. Your casserole will not bake good. The bread will become soggy and it will taste terrible.

2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crumble and brown the entire package of sausage and pour off any fat.

Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with a non-stick spray and line it with one package of the crescent rolls. Put the cooked sausage on top of the rolls and top with the cheese.

Add in the veggies, then pour in the eggs and top with the second package of crescent rolls. Bake 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve warm with a buttery maple syrup on the side.

Breakfast Bacon Egg Cup

breakfast egg cup

You will need:

A muffin pan

Enough sliced bread to fit one in each muffin hole, crust removed [save the crust]

12 ounce Package of Bacon, cut in half

An egg for each muffin hole

1-2 Cups of Shredded Cheese, your choice

Directions:

Coat each hole in the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Criss cross 2 pieces of bacon in each hole

Press a slice of bread into each hole, to form a pocket

Break and drop an egg into each pocket.

Top with the cheese, then pull the bacon up over the top of the pocket.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the bacon is

crisp and the egg is done.

Serve with fresh fruit and a warm drink for your complete breakfast.

**Vegetables can also be added to the egg pocket, just remember to keep

them bite size so they will cook in the same temperature.

You can organize one or both of these recipes the night before and be ready to cook breakfast in no time, come morning. 

12 Tips for Soup and Salad Lovers

1. With soup, it is easy to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” (or three times!). Soup is the perfect freezer food, which means leftovers won’t go to waste. Soup will keep in the freezer for a couple months, so don’t hesitate to whip up extra large batches to enjoy now and later.

soup and salad lovers

2. Freeze leftover soup in muffin tins for easy-to-transport single-serve lunch portions.

3. Allow soup to cool overnight in the refrigerator before freezing. Putting hot soup into your freezer can briefly increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which could negatively impact your already frozen items.

4. Don’t add cold milk or cream straight from the refrigerator to your soups while cooking. To prevent curdling, warm the milk and cream up before adding to the simmering soup.

5. Mirepoix is a combination of diced carrots, celery and onion used to add flavor to soups, stocks and broths. The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will release their flavor.

6. When making soup, “sweat” aromatics, like onions or garlic, first. Simply sauté these ingredients in a little olive oil or butter until they are soft. This will release their flavors and enhance the final taste of your recipe.

7. Give your soup a chance to cool a bit before adding final seasoning. When soup is boiling hot, it is difficult to tell whether or not it actually needs more salt or other seasonings.

8. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to broth-based soups before serving to “brighten” up the flavors. Citrus has a natural fresh taste to it that will liven up the other flavors in your soup.

9. Save time cleaning up by making your salad dressing in the same bowl you plan to serve your salad in. Mix up your dressing ingredients and let them sit for a while to give the flavors a chance to meld. Then add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat right before serving. If you make more dressing than you need for one salad, simply pour off the excess into another storage container before adding your salad ingredients.

10. When making homemade vinaigrette, add a little Dijon mustard or mayonnaise to emulsify the mixture. This will help hold together the oil and vinegar (or other acidic components) longer.

11. No one likes a soggy salad. Don’t add dressing until right before you serve it to keep your lettuce crisp.

12. It’s important to thoroughly wash lettuce before eating it, but it can be challenging to get it dry enough to hold your dressing. If you eat a lot of salad, a salad spinner is definitely worth the investment.

If you’re looking for a meatless meal that satisfies, look no further. This isn’t an exact recipe, it lets you choose your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices.  Instead it is meant to inspire you for your next veggie only meal.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then open your refrigerator and see what is in the vegetable draw.  Choose your favorites and begin chopping up some veggies.  Next add some herbs, such as, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano or mint.  Drizzle with Olive Oil, then lightly toss.  Add a pinch or two or my favorite spices, salt and pepper, lightly mix to mingle the flavors.  Using two pieces of foil, [or as many as you need] divide the vegetables and place on the foil, folding them into small pouches.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for a hot crunchy texture or 35 minutes for a completely cooked meal. 

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In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes with basil, parsley and oregano.  You can also add, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies.  Most will work well in this little quick and easy [no] recipe meatless meal.

Take care when opening the pouch as steam can burn fingers and noses, if gotten too close.  The aroma will be amazing but don’t stop there, add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic reduction or soy sauce, then serve over rice, pasta, Quinoa or just have it by itself.  With all the flavors and texture of this meatless meal you will not miss the meat at all.

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If you prefer your food grilled, this [no] recipe can be done on your grill, also.  Just be sure to use one of the vegetable baskets made just for grilling so your chopped veggies will not fall through the grill while cooking.  Complete the cooking before adding the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or Olive oil to the hot vegetables.  Toss to incorporate the flavors before serving. Serve with some slices of warmed french bread that has been sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese for a meal to remember.

 

Most families have an enormous amount of food waste.  Take a look at your neighbors garbage and the amount thrown away would make some people literally cry.  But, you can eliminate most if not all of your food waste by following these tips.

1. Plan Your Meals – Don’t go shopping without a plan. If you know what meals you want to cook based on the weekly grocery store flyers, what you have on hand, and what’s in season, you’ll waste less.

2. Freeze Leftovers – When you have leftovers, even small amounts, put them away in the freezer. Even small amounts of cooked veggies or instance, can be used later to make veggie soup.

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3. Cook the Right Serving Amounts – If you’re cooking for two, consider cutting the recipe in half to avoid waste. Alternatively, plan ahead to save leftovers as homemade TV dinners for eating later.

4. Buy the Weird Veggies – Check out your grocer to see when they sell the strange shaped or “ugly” produce. This not only costs less but by buying you help eliminate the grocery store’s waste.

5. Use the Old First – As you put food away, put new behind the old so that you make sure to use the old items before you use the new items. For items that are shelf stable until opening, like mayonnaise, keep out of the fridge until the old is used.

6. Have a Leftover Day – At least once a week, have a day where everyone only eats leftovers. This is a great way to use up all the food that you have prepared. You can heat it all up and serve it buffet style.

7. Conduct Inventory Regularly – Before shopping, always check what you have available and what is getting ready to expire so that you can create dishes using those ingredients that you already have on hand.

8. Use Scraps Wisely – When you have food scraps there are things you can do with it, such as use it to make compost, or create broths.  Even your leftover fresh veggies can be turned into a flavor filled broth for making your next batch of soup.

9. Learn Proper Storage Techniques – There is a right way, and a wrong way, a right place, and a wrong place to store each item that you purchase. Do your research and learn how to store everything correctly to get the most use out of it.

10. Preserve Your Own – Can it, pickle it, or freeze it if you realize you’re not going to have time to eat it before it goes bad. For example, fermented cabbage is an excellent way to use up cabbage that is getting close to expiring.  A simple pickling will save it for later use.  This is also true of most fresh vegetables, [cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, etc.] thus cutting down on your food waste.

11. Eat Expired Food – Most food has expiration dates that aren’t really when the food “goes bad” but rather when it must be sold by. Most foods are fine for at least 7 days past the expiration or sell-by date.

With a little planning and thought you can eliminate most food waste. If somehow you still end up with extra food because you couldn’t say no to a sale, you can save the day by donating it to your local food bank.

Have you tried the NEW OLD health food? What, haven’t heard of it? It’s called Bone Broth, a rich broth made from any animal bones that have already been roasted in your meal preparation or bought from your butcher and roasted in your oven.

Roasted Chicken Leftovers

Start by removing the cooked meat, then rinse and crack the bones so they will release their goodness,  if they are still intact, place the bones back into a clean pot, add enough water to cover plus 3-4 inches above the bones and simmer over a medium heat source for 3-8 hours.

  • The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophobic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

  • Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of Chondroitin Sulfates, Glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down bone cartilage.

  • Bone broth can be made from any type of bones you like – chicken, beef, pork, or even fish – but seek bones from organically raised, pastured, or grass-fed animals.

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To enhance the flavor, I add 1 teaspoon of sea salt, one medium onion cut in half, and  1 large carrot, 2 celery ribs, cut into one inch pieces but the flavorings can be any vegetable of your choice.

I’m guessing, by now, you have noticed the NEW OLD health food is an old favorite that our grandmothers have been making for centuries. Yep, the Bone Broth that is the rage of the culinary world, is an enriched broth or stock that cooks from every generation have been making for centuries.

The grandmother that gave you chicken broth for a cold was doing the right thing for you, without knowing it or having a doctor’s education.

As with a lot of things, the old is new again.  If you think you do not have time to engage in the making of this wonderful healthy broth, use your slow cooker for the simmering stage.  You can even leave it over night and have a cup in the morning to start your day.

Tips for Reducing Your Family’s Food Waste

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States, we have more than 34 million tons of food waste on an annual basis. That accounts for around 14 percent of the total waste we place in our landfills, where it decomposes and creates greenhouse gases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that families in the United States waste about 27 percent of their food purchases, thus wasting spendable income.

So what can you do to reduce your food waste? Keep in mind that by reducing the amount of food you throw away, you’re actually saving money too. The following tips and lifestyle changes will help you make sure very little goes to waste.

[1] Meal Planning will help stop Food Waste.

Plan your meals weekly. Decide how many meals your family will be eating at home each week. Then make a written plan of what you need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Create a list and then shop from the list, buying only what you need. When you’re making the list, keep the recipes in front of you so you can make sure you buy the right quantity. For example, if a stir fry recipe calls for 10 ounces of chicken, you can buy only around 10 ounces, about one large chicken breast.

[2] Learning to Love Leftovers will stop Food Waste.

Much of the food that goes to waste in your home is most likely due to leftovers. Either change your meal planning so you don’t have leftovers, or learn to love them. For example, leftover stir fry may not sound like a typical breakfast, but it can be quite satisfying if you add a couple of eggs and create an omelet. You can also, plan to use them the next day for your brown bag lunch.

food waste This is one of my favorite ways to use leftovers for another meal.  A finger food plate where everyone gets a verity of small leftovers for a complete meal.  Black bean salad with corn tortilla chips, salmon pete` on celery sticks, sliced fresh veggies and a boiled egg makes an inviting meal, while clearing out the refrigerator.

[3] Learning to Preserve food will stop Food Waste.

There are many different opportunities to preserve your produce before it goes bad. For example, if you buy an abundance of apples and can’t eat them all before they go bad, you can chop them up and freeze them. You can place them in a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven and make dried apple slices. You can also cook them down and toss them in a food processor and make applesauce or apple butter.

Finally, if you just can’t do anything with that food and it’s going to end up in a landfill, consider composting. Composting turns your food scraps and paper scraps into rich soil that you can use in your garden, landscaping or even in your indoor plants. It’s a smart way to help keep food waste out of landfills and to enhance your gardening experience.

 

Less Meat in Your Diet Means More Money in Your Pocket

We all know that reducing meat consumption can help us lose weight and reduce the risk of

chronic health problems and diseases. But, having less meat in your diet, can save you money as well.

The astronomical cost of raising the meat we eat is passed on to you, the consumer, in supermarkets

and restaurants.  Beans, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains are much less expensive and can save

you some serious dollars by pulling meat off the list.

add broccoli instead of meat

 

You’ll even spend less in restaurants when you choose from the ‘heart healthy” or vegetarian menus.

Many restaurants all across the country are joining the meatless bandwagon and offering more

meatless entrees. One restaurant even provides a multi-course meatless tasting menu every

Monday and the owner claims that it’s perked up his (usually) slow Monday clientele.

It’s true that some organic and gourmet fruits, vegetables and nuts are decidedly more expensive

than a good deal on a $1 cheeseburger at your favorite fast food restaurant, but for vegetarian staples

such as beans, lentils, eggs, dairy, rice and corn, there’s no doubt that you’ll save money on your grocery bill.

Some supermarkets offer staples such as beans and nuts in bulk, saving you money and letting you

purchase only what you need, so there’s less waste.   Another option for meatless meals is ‘meatless meat.’

Veggie burgers, chicken substitutes and other products are readily available in almost every supermarket

and most health food stores. They’re made from soy and seasoned so that many would swear they’re

eating real meat.

These veggie substitutes are cholesterol free and there’s no fat, so, there’s no waste.   The Eastern world

has known about the benefits of tofu (soy) for centuries and countries such as China and Japan use

it in many exotic dishes and stir fries.  It tastes good and is good for you.

Meat on your grocery list means more money at the supermarket. Going meatless at least once a

week not only saves money, but more than that, it will decrease cholesterol and saturated fat and

make you healthier.   Less meat in your diet will mean better health and more spendable money in

your budget.

Smart Cooking Tips For Smart Cooks

Learning small helpful cooking tips can make us all smarter cooks. Cooking is only as hard as we make it. Spending more money to make better recipes is not always the best way. Most often it’s all in our know how of doing things that keeps more money in our budget and better food on our tables. Hopefully these food and cooking tips will lead you to a better way of doing things in the kitchen.

[1]  When storing, make sure fruits and veggies are stored in a refrigerator no warmer than 40-42 F.

cooking tips for smart cooks

[2]  Wash your fruit and veggies before peeling, not after. Too much risk of contaminating the knife, if you wash after. Here’s a thought, why not eat the peeling too? It’s a known fact that most of the vitamins are in the peelings. Take advantage of getting the extra nutrition and fiber.  Don’t forget to wash your knife before moving on to another food item.

[3]  Fill your sink or large bowl and soak veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in cold water for at least three minutes to make sure contaminants are released. Cut the stem off the cabbage to allow the water to get between the leaves. If you aren’t using them right away, spread a clean towel and allow them to drain and dry before putting them away.

[4]  To keep your cauliflower white, add a splash of milk to salted water when cooking . Rinse momentarily in cold water before serving.

[5]  To make your mashed potatoes fluffier, dry the cooked potatoes before mashing by returning them to the pan after draining. Add the cover and let them sit on turned-off burner for 5 min. The heat will continue to evaporate the water.

[6]  To keep your fresh herbs fresh, stand the stems in a glass of water and store in your refrigerator door. They shouldn’t go limp and will stay fresher longer. Placing a loose fitting plastic bag over the top will also help.

[7]  Saving leftover sauce in ice cube trays is an easy way to keep food costs down. When frozen, add to zipped bag of same type of sauce cubes. Reheat and use for quick dishes or drop a couple in your next soup mix for added flavor.

Every cook has their own list of cooking tips to share with other smart cooks.  The next time you need an excuse for a get together, have a cooking tips for smart cooks party.  Don’t forget to provide pen and paper for all the guest and yourself.