January 11, 2014
6 Ways to Green Your Food Routine
Two years ago, I moved from Washington state to Hawaii and received a huge slap in the face when it came to food prices in Hawaii. Before I moved I always tried to shop the sales etc., but after I moved, I needed to find additional ways to save money when it came to food. With the price of food increasing everywhere, everyone's looking for ways to save. Here are my favorite ways to green your food routine and get the most out of the food you buy.
1. Learn That "Sell By" and "Use By" Dates Are Meaningless
Consumers throw away a lot of perfectly good food each year based on these package dates. Let me tell you a secret... the sell by and use by date on food has nothing to do with when food will go bad. These dates are unregulated and are set by the manufacturer. They're actually the manufacturers opinion of when the food will be "freshest." A new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council talks about the shortcomings of the current food labeling system.
You'll be able to tell if food has expired by its look and smell, not by a date on the package. I once got ground buffalo for 90% off because I bought it on the date listed as the sell by date on the package. The cashier looked at me like I was crazy and kept going on about how she could never feel safe eating meat she bought on the sell by date.... the SELL BY date! Not even the use by date! The meat was vacuum sealed and perfectly fresh. I bought 6 packages and put them in my freezer.
Save bones from chicken, turkey, and beef. Put them in your freezer to make broth with later. With the price of high quality broth, making your own can save you a good chunk of money, and more importantly, it can save you from consuming extra sodium or even extra chemical ingredients and preservatives often found in foods that come in a box or a can.
3. Vegetable scraps
Save those carrot ends, onion ends, celery tops, and tomato bits. Put them in your freezer to either make a vegetable broth or add to your bone broth for extra flavor.
4. Juicer Pulp
With juicing being all the rage lately, there is a lot of leftover pulp going into the trash. Save your pulp for the next time you make meat balls and use it as a substitute for bread crumbs. You can also use pulp in muffin recipes to add moisture without adding a bunch of extra calories. If you're part of the urban farming movement and have chickens, you can even use leftover juicer pulp to fee your chickens. If you're a gardener, use the pulp for compost.
5. Takeout Garnishes
If you're like me and you love pho, you may have thrown out your fair share of pho garnish including fresh basil, dandelion leaves, jalapeno peppers, lemons, and bean sprouts. Next time, put those basil leaves in a plastic zipper bag with some olive oil and use it for seasoning the next time you're cooking chicken in a pan. Save the lemons for some lemon and honey tea when you have a cough, and dandelion tea is always a good detox tea. Those jalapenos and sprouts can be saved for a vegetable soup and other recipes later on.
6. Don't Throw Away That Grease
Until very recently, grease from bacon, and roasts (pork, beef , chicken etc) was saved and rendered into lard, tallow, and schmaltz. This rendered fat was used to fry up eggs, brown meats, and make pie crusts. Now we simply throw it out (or pour it down the drain which is very bad for your pipes!). Throwing away the fat became the norm when the low-fat movement became popular and everyone feared that fat would make them fat. Now that we know better, we're still throwing away this liquid gold. Imagine how much money you could save on butter and olive oil?
To render your saved fats, simply put the grease in a pan and boil them on high until it stops crackling. Use a slotted spoon to fish out any solids or strain through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar. The rendered fat will keep in the fridge indefinitely since all the impurities and water have been removed. I have 6 mason jars in my fridge. Three for un-rendered poultry, beef/lamb, and pork fat and three for my rendered lard, tallow, and schmaltz.
How do you save on your food bill and get the most out of your food?
Photo by: epSos .de