Food is a constant expense. Every day, three times a day, whether eating out or cooking at home, you have to spend money on food. If you have to cook on a budget, you’re probably very careful about what you bring home from the grocery for everyday cooking, but how do you protect this investment once it’s in your cabinets or refrigerator?
As I have stated before, over-buying is the biggest detriment to cooking on a budget, because most of the food gets wasted. This occurs because when people over-buy, they also over-cook and over-portion which results in eventually throwing out the leftovers. This doesn’t have to be the case.
Because of package sizing, you will probably purchase too much for one meal, but make sure that you DON’T over-cook, over-portion and over-eat. You need to understand and follow correct portioning rules for your family. You will also have to make adjustments with the food that you purchase. If you don’t, then the asparagus or broccoli that aren’t included in tonight’s meal may be left in the refrigerator. But, 3 days later, they’re limp, mushy, and need to be thrown away. Whether you’ve cooked them or not, the result is the same.
Today’s tips are about extending the shelf-life of the items in your house so you’re not throwing away money spent on food…sometimes food that hasn’t even been cooked.
Vegetables: Most plants need air and water to survive. Broccoli, Asparagus, lettuces, and all other items were living in dirt, soaking up the sun not long ago. If you strangle them in a plastic bag, they’ll steam in their own breathing. That’s not good! You have to let vegetables breath in your refrigerator. Take them out of the plastic bag.
Take notice of the root end of vegetables, and give them some water to further hydrate and not dry out. They’ll continue drawing water like fresh cut flowers, and extend the life of the product in your possession.
Protein: When you return with more than one meal of protein, immediately portion for future meals and freeze what you’re not going to use. This way, it doesn’t deteriorate while you make up your mind.
For example, when I make hamburgers, I use 8 ounces of ground beef or turkey. When I get the entire pound, I immediately break this down, and freeze the half I won’t be using.
Protecting your investment in food starts the moment you get your food home from the store. Cooking on a budget demands that you don’t waste food or money by letting it spoil before you get to cook it. Having fresh, appetizing ingredients to practice your craft upon will make everyday cooking a joy.