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A ramble about saving money in the kitchen…

21 Jan

I just wanted to do a quick post about some of the things I’ve been doing the last few days to save money in the kitchen which in turn saves waste or should that be other way around?  Either way if you want to learn more about what I am personally doing, then read on my friend.  I’m really getting into the whole stopping food waste movement within my own home.  In fact I’ve really put my foot down.  I think it all started with that watermelon rind relish..anyways here’s my list.

  • I am making smaller  meals.  There are only two humans in this house to feed and I find these days that a lot of recipes make more than the traditional 4 serves, more like six or eight even!  While I don’t mind leftovers for lunch the next day, I don’t want to be eating them all week long.  Ah but what about freezing leftovers I hear you say?  Yes I do that too but I prefer to plan to freeze leftovers or extra when I make something that I know will survive being frozen and reheated well, like bolognese sauce.  So now I’m reducing, sometimes halving all the ingredients a recipe calls for.  We still get another meal or two out of it, I don’t have to buy as much and so far there’s been no food thrown in the bin.
  • I had a good think about the leftovers I do freeze, I love making casseroles and stews with potato but after thawing and reheating the potato is just yuck.  Something happens to the texture when it freezes and it is not pleasant at all.  So I thought about it for a while when I had a few serves of chicken curry (with potato) that I knew wouldn’t get eaten in the next few days and I came up with = soup.  Yep simple as that.  I froze the curry in one person portions and put instructions on in case I forgot my grand plans.  I am happy to report that when I dashed home for lunch yesterday I grabbed my defrosted chicken curry, tossed it into the Thermomix for five minutes or so on 70 degrees celsius then gave it a quick whiz on reverse and viola, I had a lovely soup.  Because the potato was mushed up during the “whizzing” the texture problem disappeared.  You could still do this without a TM, just reheat your dish and use a stick mixer, blender or try a potato masher.  If it comes out too thick add some liquid like water, stock, cream, milk etc.  Now I’m really looking forward to my winter stew leftovers.
  • I’m also trying to use the leftovers in a different way, for example making extra rice one night and putting some aside for the next nights meal to be made into something else entirely.  Then it becomes not leftovers but a “get ahead” cooking idea saving time and energy.
  • I’m trying to use what I’ve got and not buy special ingredients.  There’s a lot of things that can be substituted without changing the results of a recipe much.  It’s harder to do in baking but cooking just begs for some improv.  Last night I wanted to make a creamy pasta dish and I didn’t have any cream but I knew I could make my own evaporated milk which is often used as a lighter version of cream.  So I did a quick search and found the easiest instructions: 280g of water + 90g powdered milk, whiz in Thermomix speed 5 for 5 seconds.  Done.  And I can assure you my creamy chicken and bacon ranch pasta was indeed creamy.  Of course you can whiz your homemade evap. milk in a blender or just whisk by hand.  Too easy.

Photo 20-01-2015 7 26 34 pm

  • On the subject of meal planning I’ve tried it all, one week, fortnightly, monthly even but right now what is working for me is daily.  I know it doesn’t sound like much planning but what I’m trying to achieve is using all the food in my fridge, freezer and to a lesser degree pantry and stockpile.  I want to shop out of my own kitchen and save my pennies.  I find it easier when I am rummaging around in the chest freezer to pull something out for tomorrow nights dinner and take a look at what I’ve else I’ve got at home to make it a complete meal.  This is also where substituting comes in handy.  By doing it day by day I find I am using my brain much more to come up with ideas and recipes to use what I have instead of writing down a month of meals and a massive shopping list to go with it.
  • Two words: failed recipes.  Don’t you hate it when you see a great recipe on Pinterest and try it out only to have it flop for whatever reason (not always the recipes fault).  I’ve changed my attitude to these failures.  Usually they would sit in the biscuit tin or fridge untouched as time passed by then I would have to throw them in the bin because, well they must be off or stale.  No more food waste.  I told you I was putting my foot down.  A while ago I made what was going to be a lovely fruit bread for my toast in the mornings.  Well I missed the breadmaker beep to add the fruit, threw it in way too late and of course the sultanas just baked on the outside of the loaf.  Not good for toast (all those ‘tanas dropping and popping in the toaster).  So what could I do so I didn’t waste it, well I decided it would be perfect for bread and butter pudding, which we love to eat.  The loaf is currently residing in my freezer waiting for the weather to cool enough to turn the oven on.  Did I mention I love eating bread and butter pudding for breakfast?  Win!  Last week I attempted two Pinterest recipes that did not work out at all.  One was a cookie dough ball recipe which wouldn’t roll itself into balls so I squashed it flat in a dish instead.  The other was a peanut butter oat cookie that just didn’t want to set hard enough.  These were both no-bake recipes (I did mention it was hot didn’t I?)  anyway the consistency of both products was not conducive to eating as is so I put on my thinking cap and decided I would use them (separately) in my oatmeal and in smoothies.  I am currently making my way to finishing them and I am just about overjoyed that they did not get tossed in the bin.  By the way the cookie dough ball is awesome in oatmeal – it has choc chips in it which just ooze through the oats.
  • I’ve also decided to toughen up and not be such a prissy when it comes to using blemished or slightly not quite right produce.  There are many things you can safely eat without having to throw it in the bin, for example limp or wrinkled produce can be tossed into soups and stews.  So before I chuck anything in the rubbish now I give it a really good going over and asses if it can be salvaged either as a whole or some part of it.  If you’re not sure about food safety issues you can look them up online.  I’m talking mostly about produce here – fruit and veggies not meat, dairy etc.
  • It’s a funny thing that I’ve just got stuck into these strategies this last week or so and Taylor over at Home Storage Solutions 101 has posted an Eat From The Pantry And Freezer Challenge.  How very timely!  I am following Taylors 52 week declutter/organisation program (which is free) and I can tell you it has helped me immensely in all areas of my home – and it’s good for the budget too.  I plan to talk more about the 52 week program in another post so stay tuned.

Well so much for a short post, I hope some of you may be inspired to challenge yourself to stop food waste and save money in the kitchen.  If you have any tips or please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas.

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