Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 26 -- How To Avoid Food Waste

According to The Kitchen Counter Cooking School the average American throws away 30% of their food.  I don't need to tell you that this is a waste of time and money.  That said, I don't throw away 30% of our food, but I'm not at 0% waste yet either.  Here are a few methods I've come up with for reducing food waste.
  • Prepare produce as soon as you get it home.  Chopping celery may not seem like a big deal on a Saturday afternoon, but it can feel huge on a Thursday night when you've just put in a ten hour day.
  • Embrace soup -- having a soup and bread night once or twice a week has been a great way to use up leftovers.  You can use bones and scraps to make broth and leftover meat and vegetables to fill out your soup.
  • Don't make more than you need.  I used to have a problem with making huge portions of our main meals so no one would feel deprived.  The problem was I am the only one who will eat leftovers, and there's only so much I can eat.  Now I only make enough for 5-6 servings which makes just enough for seconds or one leftover lunch.
  • Compost or get a worm bin.  That way if your vegetables do spoil you'll have some place other than the trash to put them.
  • Planning meals and shopping with a list keeps me from becoming overly ambitious at the store.
Those are my tips.  How do you avoid food waste?


Linked to: Works for me Wednesday, Talent Show Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Weekend Wander, Hope In Every Season

Saturday, October 25, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 25 -- Beans And Rice Around The World

I'm such a lucky frugal lady.  My entire family loves beans and rice.  If you ask my DS what his favorite thing is that I cook, he'll tell you right away: beans and rice.  To tell you the truth though, I was getting tired of the same old thing, so I've been trying quite a few different recipes this year.

Beans and rice is pretty easy, and usually I make the beans in the crockpot.  I also like to incorporate a few types into my freezer cooking for those days when I can't think 8 hours ahead.

We like to vary the types of rice we use, and I'll let the kids add toppings such as sour cream or cheese.  If I happen to see some at a good price, I'll pick up some tortilla chips, but they're not a must.  We like fruit salad or carrot sticks on the side.

Here are our faves:

Sweet and sour beans (I serve with yellow rice.  When cooking I use whatever beans I have & cut way back on the sugar.)
Slow cooker red beans and rice
Cuban black beans over rice
Italian beans and rice
Southern ham and beans

What's your favorite way to eat beans and rice?

Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 24 -- Friday Night Chocolate Cake

This is a quick cake for when you've had a crazy week, and you need something to tuck into in front of the TV.  It takes about 15 minutes to mix together, doesn't require a mixer, and uses ingredients you're likely to have on hand.  It looks like a big mess when you put it in the oven, but the result is a nice dessert with its own sauce.  Serve it warm with a scoop of ice cream.  This recipe originates from the World War II era, but I ripped it out of a Penzey's catalog a few years back.

Friday Night Chocolate Cake

1 C flour
1/3 C Cocoa powder
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 C sugar
6 T butter, melted and cooled
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 C brown sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1 1/3 C boiling water

In a medium bowl stir flour, 1/3 C cocoa, baking powder, and salt with a whisk.  In a large bowl, whip eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla with a whisk.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Pour the batter into an ungreased 8x8 pan.

In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, 1/3 C cocoa, and water until dissolved.  Pour over the batter.

Bake cake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Serve warm.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 23 -- Apple Chicken

Here's a simple Fall meal that everyone in my family enjoys.

Apple Chicken

From Saving Dinner

1 1/4 t vegetable oil

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
4 granny smith apples, chopped and cored (1/2 inch wedges)

3/4 C white wine

3/4 C chicken broth
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C cider vinegar
3 T corn starch
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t salt
1 t black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add apple slices, saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 the wine and chicken broth, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Mix the remaining wine and broth together with remaining ingredients; add to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

Linked to: Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life As Mom

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 22 -- Pantry Staples


I am barely treading water right now, and was going to skip today's 31 days post.  But then I ran across this list of 12 pantry essentials, and thought I'd share.  I think it's pretty complete.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 21 -- Easy Crockpot Freezer Meals

Have you noticed that plans for putting together those freezer meals that you simply need to dump in your crockpot and cook are every where?  I love them.  They really are really simple to put together and cook.  Of course they do sometimes end up as a soupy mish mash of soft food -- in short what everyone who hates their crockpot hates about slow cooked food.  Here are a few rules of thumb that have worked for me.

1) Soup in the crockpot is great, but don't add broth until you're ready to cook
2) Too many packaged ingredients or mixes = gross
3) Frozen vegetables should not be allowed to thaw

Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Dinner Day 20 -- Freezer Meals = Easy Meals

Here's a freezer session I had last year:

I started with:  6 pounds of grass fed ground beef + some chicken and cream cheese.  The ground beef was bought at half price using a groupon.

Here's what I made:
  • Stuffed peppers x 2
  • BBQ meatballs
  • Alfredo sauce, mixed with grilled chicken & veggies (We'll had it with pasta)
  • A ton of pinto beans