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Old 05-13-2014, 08:14 PM   #11
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Tis not a good sign that I find myself a wee bit tired of chicken since we are just beginning grilling season. I better get beyond that attitude real quick-like.

I give the weekly ads a look-see before I vote on what I might be hungry for. Then I decide what ways I might use something over the course of how-ever many meals. That gives a couple options. Leftovers and repeats -- warm up as is; or planned-overs, re packaging a meal into something entirely different. If it's a meat, then I have to decide veggies, not just for one meal, but what will complement the planned overs too.

Making a grocery list is something that is better done AFTER a cup of morning coffee. Sometimes I just want something more spontaneous. Less planning, more doing. I think it's ok to go "off-plan" if you know what you are hungry for and can just pull from the freezer or make a quick trip to the store. Besides, I think I only plan several days ahead at most, whether the larder is well stocked or not.

Can you believe the two biggest spoilers in my house are bread and lettuce. Yes, you can freeze bread. When I buy lettuce, I try to make as many salads until most of it is gone, then it's salad without lettuce for awhile. I can't remember the last time I was able to use a whole stalk of celery. I just consider having to toss part as the cost of doing business.

Baby tomatoes and cabbage are your friends.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:21 PM   #12
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I've found that saving lettuce, green onions, celery is best done if wrapped in plastic wrap, squeezing as much air out as possible and closing it up best can can.

People here may have been doing that all their lives, but I just learned it in the last couple of years, thanks to a friend. Duh.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:35 PM   #13
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Extra basic veggies/herbs get chopped and frozen, they make an excellent base for soups.

I throw away less food now that I shop weekly and have downsized any recipes. If I only use a half can of beans, the rest goes in the freezer. I have plenty of small containers for small amounts.

Purposefully cutting a recipe in half BEFORE starting to cook and packaging the other half of any thing that does come in a larger size has saved me some money. I also only buy enough spices these days to last a month. No more Penzey's orders, alas!

I try very hard to not make leftovers.
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:46 PM   #14
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Celery is not a problem for me--I always manage to use it up before it goes bad. Here's something to try:

Keep celery fresh for weeks
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Old 05-13-2014, 11:58 PM   #15
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Z, can you go in with a friend at your building to share an extra freezer? Buying in bulk saves a lot, but I can see where storage is a problem and uses up all your space. Maybe split the bulk with someone who lives elsewhere.

I tend to cook for 4 or more, even though it's just the 2 of us here.

Better Than Boullion and some frozen mini dumplings with veg scraps makes a nice soup. I prechop and freeze a big bag of carrots, celery, and onion to use for soup, and take out whatever I need. A 2 qt. crockpot is less tempting to overdo than a bigger one. Growing your own sprouts like all us old hippies used to do might save some on veggies.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:07 AM   #16
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I keep celery fresh buy just cutting off the top end what I need instead of using each stalk.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:47 AM   #17
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If a dish turns out that I don't like it, then I toss it. Why punish myself by forcing myself to eat it? I am no longer a child and have to sit at the table until I finish my meal. And if I have added a new item to a recipe that I am not familiar with, if I don't like the addition, that item might get a second chance in another dish. If not, I toss that item. I do not have (like you) room to store extra useless stuff.

Chicken legs and thighs take up room. So I debone both of them after I get them home. It is a lot easier to wrap one boneless item very tightly than one with a bone. I also purchase freezer friendly storage bags and make a concerted effort to package all my freezer items in a flat manner. That way they stack easier and take up less room. If you don't have a Food Saver but can afford to invest in one, may I suggest you do so. Sometimes you can even pick one up at a yard sale or thrift store. I gave mine to Spike as he buys twice the amount of meat and other freezable perishable than I do.

When it comes to the actual cooking. One mug full of dry pasta, whether it be small elbows or rigatoni, is sufficient for one person when cooked. And there will be enough leftovers for a small second helping. Most folks over estimate how much dry long spaghetti makes for one serving. They tend to make too much. Stick with what will fit in that coffee mug. Less waste. The same goes for dry beans and other pantry foods. Packaged foods such as scalloped potatoes, as a rule, makes too much for one person, yet not enough to even save what is leftover. Make your own with just one or two medium size potatoes. Always think outside that package, but in smaller quantities. That mug can also be your measurement vessel for frozen veggies. Don't get carried away with "I will make extra because I just LOVE this dish." You usually will end up with too much leftovers and it will sit in the fridge until it develops a lovely shade of green.

If you don't have one, invest in a two-quart saucepan. You will cook less food and have fewer leftovers. I have a 1.5 quart saucepan. I use that one more than any other. I also have three different size sauté pans. I use the smallest one the most. Less likely to cook more than I know I will eat, less waste.

If you are like most folks, you want a starch, protein and veggie with your regular big meal. With the starch and veggie, one large piece of meat should leave you feeling full enough, yet leaving room for dessert if you are in the habit of having one. For you lunch, not just a sandwich alone, but with a bowl of soup. Dawg gave you an excellent suggestion for making an instant nutritious soup. Better Than Bullion now comes in so many flavors. And all of them with the choice of being low sodium if you are watching your salt intake.

I do keep a bag of the chicken bones that I have taken out of the legs and thighs if I don't turn them into chicken stock that same day. The same for the very few beef bones I may accumulate. Remember, flat items store much easier than bulky or round items in the freezer. There are some folks who will keep all their veggie peelings to make stock. Not me. Like you I don't have a four door freezer. Just that regular two door fridge. Space is precious.

Make that coffee mug your new measuring instrument. It may cost more, but you will find that artisan loaves of bread are much smaller than the standard loaf of American bread. You are more likely to use that whole loaf before it goes stale on you.

Any questions? Let me know and I will write Chapter Two for you.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:53 AM   #18
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I used to have a problem with using up a bunch of celery until I challenged myself to come up with a solution!

My fast paced exciting life!

I buy the big heavy bunch of celery with mud on it not the pale smaller bunches that have been washed seven times. This in itself insures that the celery will last for two or three weeks and I find the mature celery has a true celery taste.

If the celery is beginning to get limp I trim both ends, wash it and stand it in a large glass full of water in the refrigerator. This crisps up the remaining stalks and gives them a new lease on life.

I serve celery as a cooked vegetable or use it in my own vegetable medleys and make cream of celery soup. One vegetable combination I have learned to enjoy, at the end of my shopping cycle, is steamed carrots, onions and celery seasoned with a little butter and dill weed or with a little soy sauce.

If I run out of celery or if it becomes too expensive I switch over to whole celery seed. The celery seed gives soups and salads the same celery flavor that a stalk of fresh celery provides.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without! (and please have fun while you are doing it, being frugal can be an interesting game if you are able do it on your own terms)
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Old 05-14-2014, 09:12 AM   #19
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Celery is easy for me now that I figured a way to handle it. I chop off the bottom, give the rest a rinse and cut large thick spears in half and package to add to soups for flavor and toss them when the soup is done.

Medium stalks get chopped into slices and frozen in zips to add by the handlful for other soups and stews.

The smaller tender center stalks are chopped fine and added to sandwich salads like tuna or chicken salads.

Handy whenever needed and no waste.

I only found one container that kept celery fresh long enough, and that was the celery keeper by Tupperware. I don't think I would buy one now, because it takes up a bit of space in the fridge and my current method is easily stored in baggies in the freezer door taking up very little room at all.

I also expanded my freezer space by buying 2 wire shelves that allow me to store food under it as well as stack containers on top. I tend to keep things in the same area of the freezer.

I like containers that are mostly the same size for easier stacking. The sandwich size square container is not tall and holds 1-1/2 cups easily and I can stack more in less space. I keep a Sharpie nearby and TRY to always mark items.

I keep an inventory of the freezer usually. I found that I had listed my most common items on it so that it's handy as a checklist when finalizing my grocery list.

I keep a grocery list on my desk handy for each store, roughly listed by location in the store. I add items as necessary or wanted during the month, and finalize by taking that steno pad around the cabinets, shelves and fridge just before I head out to shop.

I hate to run out of things. Not everything, but things like coffee, creamer, sugar, mayo, I keep a spare on hand and when I open the spare, that item goes immediately on the grocery list.

I like your idea Addie about using one cup for beans. Up until now, that's how I made macaroni for Mac & Cheese and it makes just the right amount for me.

Before, I always used 1/2 a package of beans at a time, but often ended up with too much. I make beans often as I like the different kinds, so if I end up with less than a cup of several kinds, I can always combine them. I did this once with lima beans and split peas. It was delicious with the smooth peas and the baby limas contrasting nicely.
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Old 05-14-2014, 10:52 AM   #20
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Good for you. You already have the idea that square and flat stores better than round and bulky.

Cooking for one means a whole new mindset. You really do have to think smaller when it comes to cooking and storage. I have a magnetic pencil holder that my granddaughter had in HS. It was meant for the inside of her locker and has a matching mirror. I keep that on the outside of my fridge with my sharpies in it. Never have to hunt for one. Those take-out containers are meant for a really big helping. Too much for just one person unless they have a huge appetite. So I just toss them. I have a bunch of one, and half cup containers that are perfect for leftovers. The half cup one is great for a quick snack when I am watching TV or just want something small to munch on. I usually have stew, or leftovers along pasta of some sort with sauce on it for the little one. If I find that the dish I am eating is just too much for me, what is left on my plate goes into one of those containers.

All my mugs are of different sizes. So I have designated one of them for my measuring mug. It is perfect for me for one meal with no or very little leftover.

Am I correct in assuming that you get SNAP? Because of that, I shop only once a month and Spike brings in all my groceries from the car and puts away all the can goods and all the fridge stuff for me. I have him trained to not just toss stuff into the freezer. He puts all my meats and other stuff that he knows I am going to prepare for the freezer on the bottom shelf for me.

Several of you have stated that you freeze celery. I read once that celery, lettuce, etc. should never go into the freezer. So as a result I usually end up buying just the celery hearts. More expensive. If I still haven't used it all up by the end of the month, I blanch what is left over and then freeze it for soups. I like the flavor of it in soups, but I don't like it cooked. So like you, I remove it after I have gotten all the flavor our of it in a stew or soup. Can you expand on freezing raw celery?

Because I live alone, I stock up on my meats about every other month. I only buy the hot dogs in the natural casings. The kind that snap when you bite into them. We have a company in the town next over that makes the very best. But they sell them only in a box of 20. So I wrap them tightly two at a time and freeze them. A box of them can last me three months or more. I am not a big fan of hamburger. I know. I am almost un-American. But I do buy London Broil when it is on sale and grind and package that in flat one pound increments. I will also buy a piece of chuck if it is on sale and not too fatty. That gets ground up also. Every so often I will make a Salisbury Steak with pan gravy. Anytime I eat hamburger, I have to have gravy with it. About twice a year, (if they are on sale) I will treat myself to a Porterhouse Steak.

With the recent major cut in the SNAP program, I really had to sit down and think about my grocery buying habits. "Only on sale" is my mantra now. I recently bought three large jars of Cains Mayo. (A local Eastern Brand.) I had coupons for it. It is usually $3.69 a jar. On sale it was $1.99. I had a $1.00 coupon so I ended up paying just $.99 for each large jar. Enough to see me through to the end of the year. There are no chemicals in it. Just eggs, vinegar and oil. I grew up on it.

I do hunt for coupons. The most I ever saved in one shopping spree was $47.00

Grocery shopping, storage, and preparation is a full time activity now. Right along with the housework.
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