Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turning old food into new food

One of the best ways to spend less money on groceries is to actually eat the food that you buy.
  • It's expensive to buy food that sits in the refrigerator until it rots; so having a good use-it-up plan helps save money.  
  • It's expensive to buy food you don't like or won't eat; so learning to cook and enjoy a variety of foods saves money (last summer, I finally discovered a beet salad I like).
  • It's expensive to make more food than you can eat and then throw away the rest; so eating dinner leftovers for lunch the next day helps save money.
But my favorite food-saver is turning old food into new.

Soup is a perfect example of this; turkey bones go right into my "cauldron" after Thanksgiving dinner, and the stock we make lasts us for many months after this.  The broth left-over from cooking beans has served us well, too.  Miscellaneous vegetables, leftover rice or pasta, and even bits of cheese all add to the flavor and heartiness.  I add a small amount of spices -- curry is one that goes over well, and chill/paprika is another favorite flavor.

Another vegetable-collecting food that my kids go wild for is quiche.  A crustless quiche recipe that feeds our whole family uses only 3 eggs, with a lot of scraps of vegetables or meat. (Also in this dish, 1 cup of milk-ish stuff like yogurt or cottage cheese, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup cheese bits, and 1/4 cup water.  Bake 30 minutes at 425 degrees).

And when I make a new loaf of bread, I slice the whole loaf at once, then add the collected crumbs to a bag in my freezer.  When the bag starts to fill up, I add the crumbs to a mixture of chopped apples, sugar (1 tsp-1Tbsp per apple), and a bit of butter (1-2 Tbsp per apple) to make apple crisp.  If I feel the mixture needs more crumbs than I have, I add uncooked oats.  I'll either bake or microwave, depending on what else I'm doing that night.  This makes a really filling-but-cheap dessert; it's healthy enough that my kids ask for (and I give them) thirds.

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