Frugal Gourmet

Save money and food with these helpful hints

By Robert Beauchamps

Wasting food. We’re all guilty of it. The David Suzuki Foundation claims the average single-family household tosses over 275 kilos of perfectly good food each year. Not only are we wasting food that’s both perfectly eatable and edible, we’re burning myriad natural resources that go into producing every ounce of our food — from the farm to the grocery aisle to your dinner plate. So here’s my list of tips to help trim waste, save a few bucks, and even add some flavour. Bon appétit and good conscience!

  • Use vegetable trimmings and store them in the freezer. The same goes for all of those bones—ham, chicken, lamb or beef. They make for richer and healthier soups, stocks and sauces than anything you’ll find in an envelope or can.
  • Once that fancy, expensive cheese is grated, it’s gone, right? Not yet. You might think that dense, plastic-like rind of Parmigiano reggiano makes a good doorstop, but take my advice: add the whole thing to your next soup and wow your dinner guests with a subtle yet savoury je ne sais quoi. And I promise you they’ll never guess your secret ingredient.
  • Nothing makes me crazier than seeing home cooks tossing the broc stalk. Broccoli florets are prettier and greener but the stalk—once peeled—is just as flavourful and tender.
  • Zucchini patch gone wild? Of course it did, and now you’re stuck with enough zukes to feed an army platoon. How does dark chocolate Zuke Cake sound? I use my usual zucchini loaf recipe but mix it up by adding chunks of dark chocolate and even pistachios if I’m feeling nutty.
  • Pickling isn’t just for baby cucumbers anymore. Pickle everything that’s not nailed down. You’ll be ready for whatever winter throws at you with a packed pantry of pickled party favours
  • Fall brings apples by the bushel, so now’s the time to make all of that apple sauce, apple butter, apple pies and apple everything else
  • That baguette and pack of pita is only going to stay fresh another 24 hours. No problem. Let it go stale. Even rock hard bread can be tossed in the blender and made into multi-purpose breadcrumbs. I go though tons of it with all of the hearty casseroles, meat loaves, et cetera come wintertime
  • You made too much starch for supper? No problem. Whether said starch was rice, potatoes or even pasta, they are always usable the next day. Make fried rice for lunch or add potatoes to a frittata or use that congealed mass of spaghetti as part of a fried pasta dish. My favourite is spaghetti noodles fried in butter and olive oil with last night’s roasted veggies mixed in. Add your own herbs and garlic for extra punch
  • Here’s a cute cube trick: If your parsley is perishing or sage sagging, chop them up, add to water and fill trays. Plop them into soups and stews. Basil might turn black but the flavour is still there. Bonus: Kids love helping out with this chore
  • Don’t you hate it when that last bit of honey sticks to the jar? Me too. That’s why I add some lemon juice and hot water, swish it around and loosen all that sweet goodness for my next sauce or vinaigrette.

Fall 2014, Vol 6 N°4

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