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Waste not, want not

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yesterday I threw out a bunch of peppers I had gotten at the Farmers Market to freeze and never got around to doing anything with. Definitely not a budget-type of thing to do! So I got to thinking about other ways I waste food, and thought Iíd share some of them, or rather ideas for not wasting food. Please jump in with your own ideas about ways to reduce waste!

Rule Number 1 Ė If you buy it, use it!
2. If you donít know for sure that youíre going to use it, donít buy it! (When I buy stuff because it looks good or it looks interesting, but havenít thought about how Iím going to use it, it is more likely to go bad.)
3. Know whatís in your fridge and use it before it goes bad.
4. If you canít (or wonít) use it right away, freeze it.
5. Know whatís in your freezer.

(Pretty obvious stuff so far. But how many of these basic rules of not wasting are you breaking right now?)

6. Save your drippings and use them for frying or sautťing. Bacon grease is obvious, but all drippings can be used. I poured off the drippings from when I baked a bunch of chicken a couple of days ago, and stuck it in the fridge. After it had solidified, I took the fat off the top, melted it, and ran it through a fine-meshed tea strainer. I have used the fat for the chicken dishes I have made, and put the non-fat juices in the bone broth Iím making. When I cook a pork chop or a pork steak, I usually leave the drippings in the pan and use them to cook my eggs in the next morning. Either pork or beef drippings are good in eggs, chicken not so much so.
7. Save your bones for making broth. Iíve got a big pot of chicken bone broth cooking now, since I had a bunch of bones from the 10 pounds of leg quarters. Usually I just accumulate bones of any kind in the freezer, and make a big batch of mixed broth.
8. Lots of cookbooks and so forth say to save the vegetable trimmings to make vegetable broth, but Iíve never been able to come up with any that tasted good. If you can, thatís great! I did pull off some onion skins to go in this batch of bone broth, and may start saving the onion skins in with bones in the freezer. If nothing else, they make the broth look darker and richer.
9. Use the bit of butter on the butter wrappers. We used to use them for greasing cooking sheets, but thatís out now, of course. But you can put one over a bowl of vegetables and let the heat melt it off. Or put it over chicken for a few minutes while you roast it. Or at least scrape it all off with a knife or spatula. True, thereís not much there, but you might as well get it all.
10. Keep a carton of soup makings in the freezer. Put in any dabs of stuff that you arenít going to use, including skimmed drippings (save the fat for other uses), bits of leftovers, the water from cooking veggies, etc. When it gets full, use it as the base for a pot of soup. Depending on whatís in it, it might be the broth part of the soup or it may be chunky enough that you donít need to add much more to it.
11. Rinse out cans and add the rinse water to the freezer soup carton, too.

How about it? What are your favorite ways to avoid wasting food? Or at least ideas for not wasting food, whether you actually do it or not.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUDGETMAW 10/27/2012 8:35AM

  I have seen instructions for freezing eggs, but I don't remember what they were. I think you have to "scramble" them rather than freezing them just out of the shell. Have you checked online?

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SAASMITH 10/26/2012 1:05PM

  I'm the worst at forgetting veggies in the bottom of the fridge. Things that are starting to go bad,but not quite there yet, I usually end up feeding to the chickens instead of cooking, if I'm not going to have the time I thought when I bought them to actually use them.
Speaking of chickens, I rarely have to buy eggs, since we have 7 producers of them. A few times a year they stop producing and we might buy a couple dozen before they start back up. When they are all producing regularly, we usually end up with too many, and I end up throwing them away, which is stupid. Can you freeze raw eggs if you take them out of the shell? Anyone know?

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BUDGETMAW 10/23/2012 8:55AM

  I think your celery trimmings are fine, Naypooie. Be sure that there isn't any grit or dirt in the bottom piece. The brown parts should be ok if you cut both ends of them, but I'd throw out the initial pieces that cut off the brown parts that were exposed when you bought it.

My broth yesterday turned out a bit bitter. I'm not sure if it was the onion peels, the parsley root (I just pulled up a whole small plant and put it all in), or what. I think it may be the onion peels, because I vaguely remember the taste from when I tried making veggie stock.

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NAYPOOIE 10/22/2012 12:39PM

    I'd like to hear from other people about vegetable trimmings that have worked for them in soup stock. I'd hate to waste a batch by adding something that tastes bad.

Glad to hear about onion skins. I was thinking of using celery trimmings. I chop off the end of the bunch to free up the stalks, and also anything with leaves, and the ends that have gone brown. I think the ends are probably discards, but what about the rest? Anyone?

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LIVINMYDREAMS 10/22/2012 11:59AM

    Very good thoughts, Maw! I know that I tend to forget some of the veggies down in my veggie drawer of the fridge and I also threw away part of a pepper this weekend. I also end up with green onions that are kind of slimy and throw away. I think I should chop some of these veggies and put in a plastic container in the fridge and it would be easier to grab and throw a handful into eggs or soup or sauce or whatever.

I do usually use all of my cabbage but sometimes if I have lettuce it doesn't always get used. I am kind of lazy about making salads at home. Maybe I should bring the head of lettuce to work and just pull off what I need for a lumch salad. I do have a fridge in my office.

Thanks again for the ideas:)

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Day 6 (Sunday)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A good day today. Ate well, amply, and cheaply, with pretty good nutrition.

B - yogurt with cinnamon, flaxmeal and sunflower seeds
L - concoction of leftover chicken, leftover spaghetti squash, broccoli, and onion, all cooked in chicken drippings and seasoned with curry powder
S - pork steak, leftover coleslaw
T - tea with coconut milk and gelatin

Estimated cost of the day's food - $3.27

I reorganized my fridge and its freezer, so I have the Food Stamp food together. Still need to do the same with the deep freezes, but this is at least a start.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHINTON1618 10/21/2012 7:52PM

    That is an awesome cost of food!

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Summary - Week 1 (5 days)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I do most of my tracking on a Sunday-Saturday basis, so my first week on this Food Stamps Challenge is just 5 days. Here's how it went.

Average daily calories - 1519
Average daily fat - 113 grams (67%)
Average daily protein - 96 grams
Average daily total carbs - 34
Average daily fiber - 12 grams
Average daily net carbs - 22

Average daily estimated cost of food actually eaten (including guests) - $3.54

Cost of food purchases (includes what I haven't eaten yet, does not include what I started with) - $97.61 (which is a bit less than I reported before, because I forgot to back out what I "started" with)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NAYPOOIE 10/21/2012 3:35PM

    Well, I checked out Walmart's frozen chicken, and the best price they had was 4 lb of drums or thighs for $4.98. Maybe I should fly over and shop at your walmart.

Actually, they're just ramping up to superstore status, lots of empty shelves yet, and haven't expanded the frozen section at all yet. Still, that's the best I can do for now.

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Days 3 (Thursday), 4 (Friday), and 5 (Saturday)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Things are going better. I'm getting into the swing of this again. I had 2 friends over for supper last night, and it came to a little less than $5 for the three of us, including seconds on the chili and the coleslaw and the girls taking the last of the corn bread muffins home with them. And it was, I think, very good, too. I need to figure out how to organize my fridge and freezer so I know what is Challenge food and what isn't. The first time I read about a Food Stamps Challenge, they actually locked up all their pre-challenge food so they couldn't cheat. That may be feasible if you're just doing it for a week, but not so much if you're doing it for a month or longer. I am trying to be very careful, though.

Saturday's food -
B - eggs scrambled in butter
L - salad of chicken, egg, celery, mayo
S - leftover chili and leftover coleslaw
T - tea/coconut milk/gelatin
Estimated cost of food eaten - $2.95

Friday's food -
B - eggs scrambled in butter
L - soup of chicken broth, frozen broccoli and coconut milk
S- Pumpkin Hominy Chili, coleslaw, cornbread and butter for guests
Estimated cost of food eaten, including guests - $5.98

Thursday's food -
B - yogurt, flax, cinnamon
L - chicken, salad of cabbage, mayo and sunflower seeds
S - pork steak, broccoli, carrots
Snack - tea, coconut milk
T - tea, coconut milk, gelatin
Estimated cost of food eaten - $3.49

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUDGETMAW 10/21/2012 9:40AM

  I know. I have the same problem, though I'm mostly leaving stuff that I wouldn't eat on a Food Stamp budget to eat when I'm done, unless it's perishable. What I've done about the perishable stuff is to substitute something for it. For example, I had some okra that needed to be used up, so I said I ate a can of green beans, instead, and counted the cost of the green beans. And my hamburger, sausage and eggs are all from the Farmers Market, but I'm counting the cost if I bought them at a regular store. It's not perfect, but it's the best I can do.

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NAYPOOIE 10/21/2012 12:07AM

    I'm having a problem with my 'pre-challenge' food. I've got a number of things that I probably wouldn't buy on a food stamp budget, but since I plan to do this for a while, got to fit them in there someplace. My canned asparagus and beef jerky spring to mind.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin is another thing that is cheaper at the Farmers Market than at the grocery store. I can usually (in season) get nice sized pie pumpkins for $2. Sometimes Iíve been able to get them for $1. The one I cooked today weighed 3 pounds 10 ounces whole, including seeds, stem, etc. I roasted it and got about 840 grams of cooked pumpkin, or about the same as 2 of the smaller (just under a pound) cans of processed pumpkin from the store. I saw the smaller cans of pumpkin at Walmart yesterday for $1.79 per can. I also got about half a cup of toasted pumpkin seeds. Iím not sure how much that weighed, but pumpkin seeds were about $11 per pound when I was at the health food store yesterday, which is the only place I've seen them around here. In Idaho I could get them for a lot less at Winco. A cup of cooked pumpkin (about 200 grams) has 49 calories, 12 carbs, 2.7 grams of fiber, 9.3 net carbs, and 1.8 grams of protein. It also has 245% of your RDA of Vitamin A, 19% of your Vitamin C, and 11% of your Riboflavin, plus smaller amounts of other nutrients. At 9.7 net carbs per cup itís a bit high, but I eat it in things and not by itself, so Iím usually eating half a cup at a time, or less. Half a cup of roasted pumpkin seeds has 143 calories, 17.2 carbs, 4.5 grams of fiber, 12.7 net carbs, and 6 grams of protein. The way I cook the seeds you eat the shell and all, so they probably have more fiber and less of everything else, though I donít know.

I washed my pumpkin, cut off the top, and then cut it in half. I pulled out the seeds with my hands so Iíd get as little of the stringy stuff as possible, then used my sturdiest spoon to scrape out the rest of the stringy stuff. Put about a tablespoon or so of oil or clean drippings in a rimmed baking sheet. If you are using drippings you may need to put it in the oven for a few seconds and let it get soft. Rub a bit of the oil/drippings over the cut edges and make sure the pan is completely covered with the rest. Put the pumpkins, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast for about an hour at 375, or until itís completely soft. Take it out of the oven, turn the pumpkins over so theyíll cool faster, and leave them until they are cool. Scrape the pulp out of the shell with a sturdy spoon (the shell just slipped right off of the one I cooked today).

Put the seeds in a bowl of warm water and rub them thoroughly to get rid of the slimy stuff. Most of the seeds should be pretty clean anyway, but some will be stuck in the strings. If you squeeze the end thatís stuck in the strings the seeds should squirt right out. (Itís kind of fun, actually!) When the seeds are clean, put them in some salted water, bring to a boil, and simmer them for 10 minutes. Drain, and spread them out in a baking sheet that you greased with a tablespoon or so of oil or drippings. Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until they start to brown. I did mine while the pumpkin was roasting at 375 and it worked just fine. Let the seeds cool completely, then eat the whole thing, shell and all.

I cooked the pumpkin today to put in some Pumpkin Hominy Chili that Iím serving to my friends for dinner tonight. I hope you can find the recipe from my Nutrition Tracker. If not, let me know and Iíll see what I can do. For that, I just cubed the cooked pumpkin and then mashed it up a bit with a spoon before putting it in the crockpot. It should cook down to mush and just thicken the soup a bit. If you want to use it for pumpkin pie or other things where you want the puree, you can either puree it in your food processor or put it through a colander. Cooked pumpkin freezes well.

Mostly I use pumpkin in soups. It thickens up the broth a bit, which I prefer. It goes especially well in beef stew, beef vegetable soup, and things like that. It also makes a good soup in its own right. Iíll post a couple of other pumpkin recipes, too, though that may take a day or too. Someone said that they put some cooked pumpkin in their MIM/OMM's with a bit of pumpkin pie spice.

By the way, you can toast other winter squash seeds, too. Iíve seen references to toasting acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash seeds, though I havenít tried any of them. And, of course, the seeds from your jack oílantern! You can use the pulp from your jack oílantern, too, as you would the pulp from a pie pumpkin, though itís not quite as good. Be sure your pumpkin has been freshly cut if you are going to cook it. Itís ok if itís carved earlier that evening, but it gets old and nasty if it was carved a few days before.

Here's a link to where I got the information on toasting pumpkin seeds www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/toaste
and to where I got the information on roasting pumpkin www.traditional-foods.com/food-prepa

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYPIXEL 10/19/2012 12:15PM

    When I was a kid, I used to roast my pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet in the oven with some butter and salt sprinkled overtop. I would probably opt out of the butter now, but I really miss roasted pumpkin seeds... maybe I'll get a couple pumpkins and eat 'em this year. :)

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