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?

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.

Cooking Meals and Saving Money on Winter Comfort Foods

The cold weather months are excellent for hearty comfort foods that warm you up and keep you full. Delicious soups, stews, and hot casseroles abound, most so good, that you almost don’t miss the warmer weather. Even better, many wintertime comfort foods can be made without spending a lot and they go a long way.  Often, you can feed a big family or make enough for a week’s worth of meals, and spend very little money on each serving.

enchiladas_nim

Save Time

Most people tend to slow down during the winter. Maybe it’s the cold, or maybe it’s the layer of ice or snow which is keeping everyone in the sloth mode, but people tend to move slower and take their time.  All that extra time spent bundling up and thawing out means you don’t have a lot of extra time to cook a gourmet meal. Luckily, winter is the best time for some simple meal ideas.

Slow Cooked

Slow cookers, or “crock pots” as they are also called, are the perfect solution for family meals on the go. Simply put your ingredients in the cooker in the morning, turn it on, and then come home to a delicious hot meal waiting for you. Most recipes are so simple you just throw everything in and go, while others may require very little prep.

cold weather comfort foods

Fix It and Forget It

Winter cooking is a great time to make use of some super easy “fix it and forget it” type meals. For example, a pot roast with some chopped veggies can be thrown into the oven and a timer set, cooking to perfection while you relax or get some other tasks done.

Savory Staples

To save money and keep your tummies full and satisfied, look to stocking winter staples. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes go well in just about any savory winter dish, keep for quite a while, and are almost always some of the cheapest produce your grocery store has to offer.

Pantry Perfection

For simple, delicious, and hot meals of your favorite comfort foods, to warm you up when the weather gets cold, look no farther than a stocked pantry. Canned goods, rice, and pasta make for fast, easy, and cheap casserole ideas that cost even less than the time it takes to throw them together.

Extra Tips

Keep it simple – The simplest meals are often the most delicious, especially during the winter when anything hot and savory really hits the spot. Very few ingredients can go a long way.

Prep ahead – A little extra prep in the morning, or even spending time to prep once a week, can make meal times easy in the wintertime. For example, chopping up veggies and putting them in bags in the freezer cuts down on time and makes it super simple for you to just grab them whenever you need to.

Coupons – Most coupons tend to be for canned and boxed goods, so winter is the best time to make use of these pantry staples and save a lot of money.

Cooking is easy when you utilize some of these simple solutions. Not only can you make hot, satisfying comfort foods, but you can also save money in the process.

Have you ever wondered how our grandmothers managed to keep food on the table without going to the grocery store every day? They knew the importance of keeping a few staples on hand in their pantry.  Many great meals have been made using these ingredients.

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Kitchen Pantry

Flour

Flour is the beginning or the end of many great meals. It can be used, not only for bread items but gravies, pies, or making a great batter for frying chicken. There are several kinds of flour. The most common one being enriched white, whole wheat, self rising and all purpose.  Keep your family’s favorite in your pantry and see how often it comes in handy for your meal.

Rice

Rice, like the flour comes in many types. It’s very versatile pantry item and can be used from breakfast to dinner. Brown rice is better with meats, while white rice is what I call company rice. It likes keeping company with other food items, such as soups, salads or casseroles.

Pasta

I love pasta of all kinds. Just when I think I have tried every kind, I find a new one. You can cook a pound of pasta and have several different meals just by what you top or mix it with. It turns a simple soup into something spectacular, a salad into a meal and a tomato sauce into something divine. Choose your favorite, then keep it in your pantry to  save on your grocery budget through out the year.

Spices to keep on hand.

You should always have salt and pepper in the house but a few more to have on hand are:  Basil, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Gloves, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage and Thyme

These are my favorites but you should experiment with several spices and see what your family likes best. Buy them in small container as they will loose their strength as time goes on. Large containers can be a waste of your food budget.

Beans

There are many kinds of beans.  All are a great source of protein and can stretch your food budget.  They can be used alone of in salads, dips, soups or stews.

Pinto Beans are usually the most popular but I like the dark red Kidney Beans and the small Northern White Beans for most of my meals.   

Sugar, Honey, Molasses

Keeping one of these sweets on hand in your pantry, will ensure you the best results in your cooking and baking.  We all love something sweet in our meals.  It can be the baked beans, or the chocolate cake but having that little bit of sweet taste makes the whole meal, seem better.

Vegetable Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Butter

Very little cooking can be done without using one of these pantry stable.  Adding a little oil or fats will enrich the flavors of  meats or vegetables.  They also allow us to make a more fulfilling meal with salad dressings, gravies, breads and deserts. 

When you have these staples in your home pantry, there will always be a way to put a meal on your table.

No matter the size of your garden, you will always have some excess.  You can give it away, just let it go to waste or you can learn to preserve it by canning.  Easy canning is one way to stock your pantry with foods that you love and had a hand in growing.  If you are new to the idea of canning and preserving, hopefully, this article will give you an overview of what the process is all about and help you understand how you can preserve delicious food items to eat later.

Canning Your Fresh Food

What is Canning?

Canning is what we call the process of preserving foods in glass jars for eating later. We all realize that our Summer fare won’t last forever, so learning how to preserve by canning is one way to keep enjoying the taste of summer berries and vegetables throughout the winter months. Canning was the main way people living in remote locations in the early days were able to survive the long harsh winters, when getting to a grocery store or trading post, wasn’t possible.

The Benefits of Canning

Canning does take a while to do until you get the hang of the process. So, why can at all? Canning offers many benefits for you and your family.

  • Canning is economical

It saves money on groceries. When you want strawberry preserves or green beans, you go to the pantry instead of heading to the grocery store.

  • Canning cuts out food waste

Fruits and vegetables that you have grown in your garden don’t have to be given away or thrown away because you can’t eat them all before they spoil.

  • Good for you

Canning uses the natural fresh ingredients without preservatives or additives. This is better for our bodies, and also, allows the natural flavor of good food comes through for a better tasting meal.

 

How An Organized Food Pantry Can Make Life Easier.

The key to a well-stocked and useful food pantry is knowing where everything is and being able to find it when you need it. How many times a day do you reach for something only to find that it is expired or it’s left open and lost what ever quality you needed for your cooking? This is a waste of your food, time and money.

Here are 4 Tips for organizing your food pantry and never wasting your food again.

  • First Clean it out:

Pull it all out and examine every box, bag or can of what ever you have in it, carefully. Check for old dates and broken sealed packages. Keep in mind that most can goods are still good for up to a year after their sale date. You will want to place them up front when you rotate your stock supply, so you will be sure to use them first. Then place the rest of the food behind those items, by their expiration date, with the newest dates at the back. Then all you have to do is place new buys behind to keep your pantry up to date.

  • Make a list:

While you have your food items out, make a list of how many you have of each item. Post it on the door facing inside. Then when it comes time to make your shopping list you can easily tell what you have on hand. This will stop the over buying of items, such as having 6 cans of corn and not one can of peas.

  • Invest in Plastic storage containers

Dry ingredients don’t usually come in resealable packages (i.e., sugar, flour). Store them in plastic containers to save on space as well as keep them fresh. Include a scoop [my scoop is a measuring cup] for easy dispensing. This method works well for dry cereals, pastas and beans as well.**

  • Label and organize your shelves:

It doesn’t help much if you do not label the containers with, the name of the product and it’s expiration date. It will save you a lot of bother and headaches later on. Designate a place for each type of food. Such as cereal, cans, jars and other items. Keep your baking items, [flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc] on one shelf. Your snacks, should be, where the younger children can reach them easily so no accidents involving glass containers could happen. Keep your small appliances on the higher shelves or items you rarely use, such as holiday cake pans, or Popsicle making supplies. For foods that you use often, make sure they are within reach and not stuck behind something else.

Each time you take out a can mark it off the list on your door, or when you see an empty spot add that item to your shopping list. This way will be easier to tell when you are running low and need to restock.

An organized pantry serves a lot of different purposes for you and your family plus makes it easier to maintain an organized kitchen.

**My plastic containers came from my local sub shop. I noticed that their supplies was delivered in 1 gallon containers, so I asked, “What do you do with those when they are empty?” I was told they just threw them out so I ask if they would keep me a few and I would pick them up two days later. When I came back, they had 10 waiting for me. I had to clean off labels and soak them in baking soda, it rid them of the pickling smell but I have been using these free products for over 6 years now and they have worked out great. Before you buy, you might want to ask at your local sub shop or restaurants.