The average person spends around $2600 a year at the grocery store or more. Make every dollar count buy using what you buy. Today I am going to change it up a bit and talk about kitchen hacks that will make your food last longer. That sounds great, right? There are many ways to stretch that food dollar and you probably already have the tools to do so.
Let start with your basic ice cube tray. Here are ways to go beyond ice:
HERBS AND OIL
Herbs can be expensive and can wilt quickly. If you grow your own, you could also have an overabundance. Keep that freshness alive by placing your herbs in olive or avocado oil. Place both in an ice cube tray and freeze. Break out a brick the next time you sauté or make soup or stew.
Here is another way to preserve greens. Pop out a cube anytime you prepare veggie noodles, or meat dishes, or need an enhancement for soup.
Basic Pesto 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach) 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces) 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts) 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times. Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in some salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Variations: Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts. Pecorino Romano, aged manchego, aged gouda, aged cheddar, cotija, Grana Padano, aged Asiago. Any greens, basil, spinach, kale, collard greens, herbs, mustard, dandelion, parsley, cilantro, etc. https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/pesto-out-of-anything https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_basil_pesto/
FATS AND BROTHS
Save that meat fat (bacon, chicken, beef) to add flavor to your next dish. Let it cool, but before it hardens, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Bone broth can be saved in the same way. If you'd like larger portions, use a silicon muffin pan.
GINGER AND GARLIC
Puree ginger and garlic and place the paste into the ice cube tray. This a great time saver. Use in your stir fry (see last week's edition), sauces, soups, and marinades.
Did you not quite finish that bottle last night? Freeze it. It can then be used with butter or add to tomato sauce or stew. You could also use the cubes in sparkling water for a low-alcohol drink. You could also use the wine cubes to keep you wine glass cool in the summer.
Save those greens before they decay. Pulse in the food processor or NutriBullet with some water and freeze. Use in smoothies, soups, stews and sauces.
PUREED FRUIT & VEGGIES
Save your fresh fruit. Puree fruit or fruit combinations and place in the freezer. Use toothpicks to make mini popsicles or use in smoothies or ice cubes for your water bottle.
SAVE YOUR AVOCADO
Use the same route as above. Avocados can then be thawed to make guacamole or used in sauces and smoothies.
Ripe avocados Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon lemon juice per avocado Blender or food processor Ice cube trays Ziplock bag or freezer-safe storage container Puree & store in the freezer http://adelightfulhome.com/how-to-freeze-avocados/
Here are more food hacks:
SECTION MEAT BEFORE FREEZING - break off the portion that you need instead of thawing the whole container.
STEEL CUT OATMEAL - Since oatmeal takes some time to cook, prepare and freeze in a muffin tin. Reheat for a quick breakfast.
FREEZE MARINATED CHICKEN BREASTS - Use your favorite marinade on raw chicken breasts. Freeze them individually & use when needed. This will save you time when you get ready to prepare.
EGGS - Preserve your eggs in an ice cube tray. Use them in your recipes as needed. Keep the egg yolks and whites together or separate them. (Tip: Don't freeze eggs that are close to their expiration date.) Watch for sales on free range eggs. This type of storage is a great way to take advantage of those sales. (Sign up for Natural Grocers N Power program and spend from $1.99 to $2.99 a dozen. What a deal! Kings are over $5.00.)
FOOD STORAGE IDEAS - use all the food that you buy use an old egg carton to place condiments up-side-down or use an old six-pack carton - use every last drop place a box in the frig labeled "eat first" or use a lazy susan for the items that needs to be eaten first to prevent food waste
use one drawer for snacks alone and label it the "snack zone" - prepare cut vegetables, cheese snacks, energy balls, etc. for healthy grab & go
place a paper towel in your greens to soak up moisture and delay decay
store produce properly - know what does best at room temperature (tomatoes, stone fruits, cucumbers, avocados vs. frig (greens, asparagus, herbs, scallions, cruciferous, etc.)
root veggies (carrots, beets, turnips, etc.) - chop off the tops so the nutrients stay in the root (otherwise they expand into the tops)
store apples away from other fruits so they do not accelerate the ripening of the others, but do store them with potatoes - the apples will prevent the potatoes from sprouting
once a mushroom container is open, remove the mushrooms and transfer them to a brown paper bag (on the counter)
store your onions in old panty hose (old gardener's trick) - tie a knot after placing each onion in the legs - this separation will make your onions last longer
Try these ideas to make your food last longer. These ways will help your food budget and control food waste. On top of that, using your freezer you'll save time on food prep down the line.
Here's to your health! Happy Cooking!