Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Thrifty Kitchen

I have found that a thrifty kitchen is a busy kitchen!  Not because cooking is so time consuming, but because you begin to realize that half of what you're throwing away could be used in another dish or for another purpose. When you decide to quit buying prepackaged foods and begin cooking from scratch, your time will shift from grocery shopping to meal planning and preparing.

Here are a few tips I have found to be useful in my kitchen.

  • Have a gallon size freezer bag handy, and as you prepare your meal toss any vegetables left over into the bag and freeze them.  Continue to add veggies to the bag until it's full and use all the "left over" veggies to make a soup.
  • Plan your meals around 'intentional leftovers'.  On Sunday I cooked a ham for dinner, but I planned on using the leftover meat for sandwiches during the week.  By Thursday the meat had been eaten and the only thing left was a nice meaty bone.  On Friday I cooked a big pot of 15 bean soup and used the leftover ham bone for flavoring, and the remaining meat fell off the bone into the soup.  Those are what I call intentional leftovers.
  • Designate one night a week as leftover night.  This usually works well for me on Wednesday or Thursday.  By that time I've cooked several meals and have a little of each in the fridge.  I pull everything out and divide it up according to who likes what the most and will cook just enough of something new to ensure that everyone is full.  
  • Before you toss something in the trash, ask yourself if it could be used for something else.  If you have no idea, ask the Google (sorry, that's a Bush-ism, lol)!  For example, I realized my lemon and orange peals were great for freshening up my garbage disposable.
  • Make your own mixes.  Here are recipes for several I use. (Bisquick, 'Lipton' style onion soup mix, pancake mix, 'Bakers Joy' pan release )
  • When using the oven, try to bake several things at once and freeze the extra.  I cooked two meatloaves the other evening and froze one for dinner another night.  Not only does this save me time, it saves money by not using the gas another night.
  • When making homemade cookie dough, make a double portion and freeze half of the batch another time.
This isn't an exhaustive list as you can see, it's just a few things that have keep our kitchen going when times were lean.  I would love hearing your personal tips and tricks.  If you're lucky enough to have older ladies in your life, ask them for any tips they might be able to share concerning a thrifty kitchen.

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