Quick Tip: Freezing Zucchini

Buying zucchini when it’s on sale or cheap at farmers’ markets or stands, or growing your own and harvesting them at the end of summer and into autumn, can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. If you stock up when it’s cheap (or free), then you’ll save money throughout the year. This is a frugal way to add to your freezer stock.

This is how I freeze zucchini. I only use it shredded, and in things like breads, muffins and cakes, so I do this quickly and easily.

Rinse the zucchini well and cut off the ends. Do not peal it. Grate the zucchini, then put it into quart size freezer bags/containers in one cup measures. This makes it easier to take out only what I need.

Shannon

End of the Week Lunches

What do you do for lunches at the end of the week, when your food items are getting low? I use leftovers to make new meals. I also try to keep it simple.

In the picture above you see yesterday’s lunch. I used some leftover beef roast at the center of the plate. Not a lot; just a few slices. Around it, I’ve placed a half of a pear, chopped, carrot rounds, cucumber slices, broccoli, and raw string beans.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright February 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

For to today’s lunch, I again had a few slices of beef, surrounding it with lots of cabbage, broccoli stems, and carrot rounds. Both meals were tasty and healthy, and left me feeling satisfied. And lemon water was my drink of choice at both meals.

Because everything was leftover from other meals, their costs already counted, these two meals were free.

I try to use up food from the fridge before it goes bad, even if there isn’t much of a particular ingredient. This helps me to save money on my overall grocery bill.

How do you use leftovers?

Shannon

Beef Stock

Making your own stocks saves money on your grocery bill. The bone of the roast are used, after it has been roasted and most of the meat removed. It is fine to leave small pieces of meat on the bone.

The finished product may be frozen in ice cube trays, and then placed in a freezer container and put back into the freezer. Use ice cubes in place of some of the water when cooking casseroles.

You might choose to pour the liquid directly into the containers and freeze like that. This can later be used when cooking soups and stews.

The process is simple, but will take some time. This is perfect to make when you will be home for a number of hours.

Ingredients

water

beef bone

vegetable odds and ends

herbs

greens

  1. Place the bone into a large pot.
  2. Feel free, at this point, to add any vegetable odds and ends to the pot, as well as herbs and a few fresh greens. This step is NOT necessary. I use peels and ends that I normally would discard.
  3. Fill the pot about 2/3 of the way with water.
  4. Cook down to about half the liquid.
  5. Discard the bone and vegetable ends, straining the liquid so none of the solids remain.
  6. Reconstitute the liquid by half and cool.

That’s it! A simple task that does not take much hands on time.

Shannon

Homemade Vegetable Stock

By not having to purchase canned vegetable stocks, you’ll save money on your grocery bill.  Use the peels and ends of the vegetables from your cooking ventures, along with some pieces of whole vegetables, if necessary.  Herbs may also be used. Nothing has to go to waste completely.

The finished product may be frozen in ice cube trays, and then placed in freezer bag and put back into the freezer. Use ice cubes in place of some of the water when cooking rice and pasta, or even when making casseroles.

You might also choose to pour the liquid directly into the containers and freeze like that. This can later be used when cooking soups and stews.

The process is simple, but will take some time. This is perfect to make when you will be home for a number of hours.

  1. Place these odds and ends into a large pot.
  2. Add fresh herbs if you’d like.
  3. Fill the pot about 2/3 of the way with water.
  4. Cook down to about half the liquid.
  5. Strain the liquid.
  6. Discard the non liquid ingredients at this point. (I add these to the stews that I make for my cats so that nothing goes to waste. Or you could compost them.)
  7. Reconstitute the liquid by 2/3 to 1/2 and cool.

That’s it! A simple task that does not take much hands on time.

Shannon

Stop Wasting Food

There are two ways to stop wasting food so you can save money on your food bill. One is to be sure you use what you buy, even if that means preserving the food before it goes bad. Or using the food, then freezing the result, such as baking homemade banana bread to have on hand for later use.

Another easy way to save money on food is by eating your leftovers. Use the odds and ends left over from preparing meals to create new recipes. This can be done in a variety if ways, including:

Storing the odds and ends for later use.

Using leftovers the next day to make a new meal.

Packing them into small containers, to bring to work or school for lunch.

Making smoothies using chunks of leftover fruit and that quarter cup left in the milk jug. Or by combining fruits and vegetables.

Creating a casserole for dinner.

Making homemade soups for lunch.

Cooking one-pan meals to serve for breakfast.

As you can see, there are many ways to use leftovers. Be creative. Try new ideas. Nevermind the old stand-by recipes and enjoy new meal creations.

How much might this save?

It’s hard to say. You might end up with enough leftovers in a week for a couple of snacks, and 3 work lunches, and some extra veggies and meat to add to a soup or casserole later. That could be at least a $5.00 savings, depending on what ingredients are available. Think about what $5.00 a week means. $260.00 a year. I could get 4 weeks worth of groceries for that amount of money.

Try:

Spend an entire month saving leftovers and using them, rather than throwing them out. How much can you save during a 1 month period by doing this?

Share your results with us in the comments, or feel free to email me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon

Best Ways to Save Money on Food While Keeping it Healthy

It’s difficult to eat healthy while sticking to a small budget, but it’s important we try. Our medical bills later on will be astronomical if we don’t, and the future of health insurance is unsure at this time.

  • Grow as much of your own food as possible. Having an indoor window garden for growing herbs year round will save quite a bit of money, as will having a garden outside.
  • Even a small garden where greens, carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes can be grown will allow you to save a lot of money on your grocery bill, especially if you learn how to extend the gardening season.
  • Be sure, when gardening, to use organic seeds. Heirloom varieties are the best choice, but any organic seeds will work. Find these online or in catalogs. Organic seeds may seem to cost a bit more, but will provide you with the healthiest possible produce.
  • Use organic soil for gardening as well. Make your own by building and maintaining compost bins. Don’t put anything that is not organic into the bin, and your soil will be the healthiest soil around.
  • Learn to can, freeze, and dry the foods you grow, and those that are given to you – or that you purchase. Canning supplies can be found at yard sales and in junk stores, but be sure to get new lids. Also, you may be able to find them free online.
  • Try to refrain from buying many overly processed foods. These are the least healthy.
  • Learn to make your own items, such as breads and pancakes, using healthy ingredients. Cooking and baking from scratch is usually cheaper in the long run.
  • Look for organic products such as tomato paste and pure vanilla extract, or at least products with no added sugar or ingredients that you are unfamiliar with. For convenience, Walmart sells unsweetened applesauce in individual containers. A multi pack costs under $2.00. Read the labels.
  • Couple coupons with sales on items you much purchase, whenever possible. Search these coupons out. Get on mailing lists for the companies.
  • Brand loyalty should only come into play when one brand has a healthier version of something than the other brand. For example, stick with a brand that offers no sugar and preservatives on an item. Forget about the brand that is loaded with both.
  • Store brands, when healthier than the name brands, are an option as well. The taste of store brand items is comparable, and sometimes better. If this generic brand is the same as the name brand nutrition wise, choose whatever is going to be more affordable after the coupon is applied.
  • Look for store coupons that can be applied to your overall grocery bill, even if that means stocking up on a few items (as long as they will get used). A general coupon of $7.00 off a total purchase of $75.00 is a good deal, if you can swing it. Especially if there is a good sale going on and you’re able to combine other coupons with some of the sale items. You will save even more money this way.
  • Farmers markets are great, but some of the items can be pricey. Check the prices. Cucumbers are often sold three or four for a dollar, and they are a good size. Zucchini is another good item to purchase, as are plant starts. Talk with the vendors about whether or not their products are organic. And, if it is close to closing time, ask about a discount on the more expensive fresh produce and meat products, as well as the eggs. You never know.
  • Farm stands often sell fresh items at affordable prices. Strike up a conversation with the owner to see if you can get a discount for buying a bunch of stuff right then.
  • Whenever someone offers you food items for free, take them. Then worry about figuring out how to use and store them. This will save you a great deal of money.
  • If you notice that someone owns a fruit tree or berry patch, and they don’t seem to take advantage of the bounty, ask if you can have the produce. They wont have to rake up all those little apples, making less work for them.

NOTE: If you are in an emergency food situation, nutrition be gone! Get to a food cupboard and take whatever they will give you. If you’re normally eating fairly nutritious meals, these foods will not hurt you sometimes. Unhealthy food is better than no food.

Shannon

 

Quick Tip: What to do with Leftover Meatballs

It can be a lot of fun coming up with new ideas for leftovers. Why not save some money on your grocery bill by brainstorming ideas for foods that you usually make too much of. Here are some ideas for using up leftover meatballs:

  • smoosh them up and add to pizza sauce.
  • Use them as a pizza topping.
  • Add them to Sloppy Joe’s.
  • Make meatball sandwiches using paleo bread.
  • Put in a small baking dish. Top with paleo ‘corn’ bread biscuit batter. Bake.
  • Make a meatball soup.

Happy creating!

Shannon