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.

I’m a believer in cooking more than one meal at a time.  Cooking multi meals at the same time, sets you up for more time in the evening for family activities or just plain sitting and enjoying each other.  If you don’t have time to do, two complete meals, do the prep work for both at one time. Below are three recipes where all the hard stuff can be done at once, setting you up for 20-30 minute meals.
Shopping list for three meals:
2 Pounds of Ground Beef
2 Large Onions
1 Red Sweet Bell Pepper
1 Jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Small head of lettuce
1 Package of soft tortilla shells
1 Package of Corn Tortilla Shells
3 Packages of Ramen Noodles [chicken or beef]
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
Assorted Shredded Cheese
1 Package of Taco Spices
2 Roma Tomatoes
Prep by chopping the onions, tomatoes and pepper.
Shred ½ head of the lettuce
Place the vegetables into separate zip lock bags and refrigerate.
Brown the ground beef and ½ of the chopped onions, just until the meat is pink, then cool and divide into 3 equal parts.
Place the meat into air tight containers and refrigerate until needed.
Beef Tacos
1 part of the browned meat
1 package of taco spices
the chopped onions, tomatoes and lettuce
½ to ¾ cup of shredded cheese
Taco shells [flour and corn]
Finish cooking the ground meat, adding the spice package. Place all the ingredients on your table and allow everyone to make their own taco.
Serve with Corn on the cob and some Fresh fruit to complete your family meal.
Ramen Noodle Beef Casserole
1 part of the browned meat
3 packages of Ramen noodles, broken into pieces
¼ cup of chopped onions
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups of water
shredded cheese
Using a medium pot, add the ground meat, onions, diced tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft. Add in the water, noodles and flavor packages. Cook over medium heat until the water has disappeared, pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with ¾ cup of shredded cheese*.
Place in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake until the cheese has melted down over the noodles [about 12 minutes].
Serve with a garden salad, using the second half of the lettuce and some of the other chopped veggies.
*Velveeta Cheese can be used here, instead.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Add the browned meat plus ½ cup of onions and ½ of the chopped red pepper, to a medium sauce pan. Cook while stirring, until the vegetables are soft, then add the jar of sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a large pot, heat 4-6 quarts of water. Salt the water until you can lightly taste the salty flavor to enhance the flavor of the pasta. You want it to taste like the ocean not the Dead Sea. When the water reaches its boiling point, place in the pasta of your choice and cook as directed on the package.
When the pasta has cooked, drain well, removing all the water you can, return it to the pot or a serving platter. Some people like to add the pasta into their sauce but I do not. It will soak up the sauce too quickly and in some cases will leave you with a dry pasta dish with no sauce to serve on the side. I prefer to place my pasta on my plate then add the sauce over the top, adding a little sprinkle of cheese.
Serve with warm garlic bread and steamed green beans to complete your meal.  Cooking multi meals at one time will allow you more family time when it comes to putting dinner on the table.

With so many fresh vegetables showing up at the Farmers Markets, it is easy to see how everyone could love all the different summer salads.  I have several favorites including the basic tossed garden salad but the one I enjoy most is a southern delight, the Cornbread Salad.  There are many versions of it and I have tried several of them.  Most southern households have a family recipe for this salad.

summer salads

 

This is mine:

4 – 6 Cups of a crisp Lettuce [Iceberg, Romaine or Spinach] chopped

1 6-8 Inch Cucumber, thinly sliced

4 Large Radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 Cup Celery, chopped small

1 Small Zucchini, thinly sliced

1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 Cup Sweet Bell Pepper, medium chopped

1 Medium Red Onion, sliced in rings

1-2 Cups of Day Old Corn Bread, broken into bite size pieces

Option: Your favorite shredded Cheese

Layer the ingredients in a large salad bowl beginning with the salad greens.  Add the tomatoes last, then top with the corn bread.  Add your dressing just before serving, then toss and plate.

Just about any kind of salad dressing will go with this summer salad but my favorite is what I call my house dressing, and it goes with most of my favorite summer salads.  I use it often and have many requests for my summer salads and dressing when invited to a pot luck.

This dressing only has 2 ingredients, 1/2 Cup of Mayonnaise and 1/2 Cup of your favorite Italian Dressing.  Place the ingredients in a glass jar, replace the lid and shake well.  Refrigerate between use.  It will last up to 7 days, if kept refrigerated.

Eating Healthier Foods on a Modest Budget

If you have tried to buy healthier foods at the grocery store, you 
might have been put off by the price. After all, organic apples are 
so much more expensive than conventionally grown ones, and 
whole grain snack crackers cost more than white soda crackers.  
But those price comparisons are not the whole picture.  Maybe 
whole grain snack crackers cost more than white ones, but have 
you compared that to the price of a bag of flour, from which you 
could make your own snacks? Sometimes you have to rethink the 
way you view food prices to really get the healthiest food for the 
best price.
Healthier Foods
Here are some tips on how you can buy and eat healthier foods, 
even on a modest budget.

"Cheap" Food Isn't Always as Cheap as You Think

So your favorite brand of potato chips is on sale for $2 a bag, and 
you have a coupon!  Before you gloat about your good deal, have 
you checked the price of a 3-lb bag of organic potatoes? They 
may be on sale, too and guess how many more potato dishes you 
can make from that bag than you can from a bag of potato chips. 

The same goes for nearly all processed foods, they may seem 
cheaper, but buying the whole, healthier foods version is often 
cheaper. Think of it this way: instead of buying completed, 
processed foods, buy ingredients instead. Rather than buying two 
loaves of bread, buy a bag of whole wheat flour for the same price  (or less) and make far more than just two loaves of bread. 

Stick to the Edges

Overall, whole foods are cheaper than processed, prepackaged 
ones and the whole foods are generally sold along the outside 
edges of the average grocery store.  In the center of the store, 
you'll find cereal, candy, bread, canned foods, and so forth, while 
along the edges you'll find produce, meats, and dairy. The 
exception to this might be whole grains and dried beans.  Many 
stores stock their whole grain flours and dried beans in the center 
aisles.  It might take a couple of investigating trips to the store to 
find your better buys but in the end to get the healthier foods, 
it's well worth it.

Cut Back on Meat

When it comes to budgeting your groceries for healthier foods, 
you may find that meat takes up a big chunk of the budget. 
However, replacing meat with processed meat substitutes (such as tofu burgers) is not particularly cost effective, either.  Instead, 
consider replacing meat with other protein sources, such as brown 
rice and/or beans. 

Buy in Season

Buying foods in season can save a lot of money, and some health 
experts claim your body processes seasonal foods better.  Buying 
local foods helps, too, and stocking up on favorites when they are 
in season can save a lot.  Canning, freezing, and drying seasonal 
fruits and vegetables helps boost your diet in the winter months, 
and it's easier on your budget. 

So the next time you reach for a bag of chips, and all that...think !

Beets, The Forgotten Vegetable

There are many great vegetables we enjoy during the winter months. While the foods we probably most think about during that time are the turkey, the ham, and the desserts, the vegetables really play an important role, both in that holiday meal and for the rest of the winter.

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Beets In The Garden

Everyone has their must have vegetable at the dinner table but rarely do you see beets on the family table. Beets are a great vegetable to enjoy all winter long. Fall to spring these are in season. They are sweet, especially when roasted, and make a great addition to any salad. So enjoy that garden salad all winter long with some fresh roasted or pickled beets on top.

Mixing beet tops in with your favorite salad greens is another way to get more vitamins and nutrition into your everyday dinner salad. They are packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. Beets also contain Folic Acid, Iodine, Manganese, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Copper and Phosphorus. All these things are needed for a healthy body.

You can eat beets that have been boiled, steamed, sauteed or roasted. Select beets that are firm to the touch. Older beets become spongy with age. Beets that are between 3 and 4 inches are best for roasting and cooking but smaller ones can be pickled for use in salads and relishes.

Store your fresh beets in the refrigerator until ready to use. Beets have an outer skin that needs to be removed before eating. If you roast the beets, their skin will slide off easily but if you are boiling or using them raw, peel them with a vegetable peeler first.

Beets go well with other root vegetables, can be added to soups but one of my favorite ways is to make chips that are healthier for you than the regular potato chips.

Beet Chips

3-4 Small Beets

Oil for frying

2-3 Tablespoons of flour

Sea Salt to taste

Peel the beets and slice into thin pieces, using a mandolin. Heat the oil on medium high heat. Add the beets to a ziploc plastic bag, sprinkle the flour over the beets and shake to cover. Add the beet slices to the hot oil, shaking off any access flour first and fry until slices are a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the salt over the top. Eat and enjoy while still warm.