In case you missed it, check out Clever Kitchen Tips from T Part One! There you will find more tips for food and other odds and ends around the house.
BUYING IN BULK
Let’s start with ways to save money in the kitchen. Containers make a big difference.
- One example is the price difference for powdered garlic. I found garlic in plastic containers at Sprouts for 69 cents an oz. (you measure how much you want into a plastic baggie and weigh it yourself).
- The store brand in a glass jar was selling for $6.99/oz.
- And, in a small plastic baggie on an aisle end cap, I found some for $1.39/oz.
- I ended up buying a 24.7 oz. container at Ralph’s for $9.99 which comes out to 40 cents/oz.
- I found powdered garlic online in bulk, 5 lbs. for $10.49 which comes out to about 13 cents/oz. The only problem is I don’t need 5 lbs. of garlic.
- The point is to be aware of what you are paying per oz. and what type of container is involved, one they provide or one you refill at home.
MEASURING DRY/WET INGREDIENTS
- Individual cups are usually used for dry ingredients. When measuring sugar, for instance, put a piece of wax paper down on the counter and measure over that. You are not going to shake the cup, you are going to level it off with a straight edge of a knife or spatula and that extra is going to make a mess. Once you finish measuring, the wax paper makes a perfect funnel to get that extra sugar back in the container.
- Measuring spoons are used for small amounts of dry ingredients (wet too) and again measure over the wax paper to stop messes.
- Measuring liquids is best done with glass measuring cups. Put the measuring cup down on a flat surface and get eye level (don’t look down on it) to see you have the desired amount.
LEFTOVER CEREALS AND BREAD PRODUCTS
- Cereals – Keep that little bit of cereal that gets left in the bottom of the bag. Keep all the yummy morsels in a zip lock baggie. When you’re making cookies, just crush them a bit through the baggie with your hand and add in ¼ to ½ cup into the cookie dough. It will give your cookies some extra crunch and a distinct flavor that you’ll love!
- Breads – Save those ends of the loaf of bread and that piece of bread that seems no one eats. Cut the bread into small bite size pieces and put into a large baggie. Add in your favorite seasonings, such as, garlic, dried parsley, black pepper and a little olive oil. Shake the bag around and then spread the pieces out on a cookie sheet and place in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes until they dry out. (Watch so you don’t burn them.) They can be stored in another clean baggie in your freezer to be used later for salad croutons, added to meatloaf, added to casseroles, or smashed up and added to sauces to thicken them. You can of course store them in the refrigerator if you’re going to use them in a week or two.
- Flat breads and tortillas – If you have extra tortillas, cut them into chip size pieces and fry or bake, then salt a little once they are finished and you have fresh tortilla chips. These are perfect for homemade nachos! For flat breads, just cut them up, put on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings, and bake in a 375 degree oven for just a few minutes until they are lightly browned. These are perfect for dipping.
- Pastel-colored popcorn – This is so easy and so much fun! When making popcorn the old-fashioned way in a skillet, you can make pastel-colored popcorn by adding a few drops (2-3) of organic food coloring to the hot oil. Then add the popcorn kernels and pop as usual over medium heat. Make one or more colors – the kids will love it!
- Make your own microwave popcorn – The microwave popcorn that is sold has so many harmful chemicals in it, you’ll want to make your own. All you need is a small brown paper lunch bag, and 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernels. Tape the bag shut and microwave for about 2 minutes. Healthy and cheap!
- Toppings for popcorn – the possibilities are endless! One that is delicious and you may not have used is to top your hot popcorn with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle on Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning. It tastes like cheese! It is gluten and cholesterol free, salt and sugar free and it is extremely healthy for you containing vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, folic acid, niacin, B1 and more.
- Left-over popcorn – add it to your salads as you would croutons, serve with soups, offer as a bread instead of bread with your meals, pack into small baggies and include in a lunch bag for school or work.
HOMEMADE ICECREAM IN 5 MINUTES
- A couple of zip lock baggies and ice cream is just minutes away! I’ve seen this recipe before and never tried it because, honestly, I didn’t think it would work. But, it does and it’s so much fun! I changed the original recipe because it only made a little bit and I wanted more. Here’s my recipe:
- In a quart size zip lock baggie, add in 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup milk (I used almond creamer – not flavored), ½ tsp. vanilla (I used 1/2 tsp. of my frozen coffee). Zip the bag closed and shake ingredients well.
- In a gallon zip lock baggie, add in enough ice cubes to fill it ½ full plus ¾ cup salt (I used ice cream salt – though large kosher salt would work too).
- Place the first baggie with the milk, etc. inside the ice and salt filled baggie and zip the outside baggie closed.
- Shake the baggies for 5 minutes. (I put a towel around the bags because it was cold!) That’s it! You have ice cream! What a fun thing to do with your kids! You can make any flavor, vanilla, chocolate, etc.
SOME ODDS AND ENDS
- To toast almonds, spread them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Toss them every few minutes and watch that they don’t burn.
- If you want tastier chicken breasts, buy them bone-in. They are also going to be juicier. Of course they will take a bit longer to cook and you’ll have to debone them after cooking to use them in the dish you’re making. But, if you’re pressed for time, the boneless ones will be a better choice.
- When recipes call for parmigiano-reggiano cheese you can substitute another hard cheese and it will work just as well. And, better yet, the other hard cheeses will usually cost less.
- When you cook pasta the water you cooked it in will add starch to your sauce and thicken it. Just add a little at time to the sauce until it reaches the thickness you desire.
- The knife most used in the kitchen is the chef’s knife – between 8 and 12 inches long. A paring knife is best for any handheld work. For cutting tomatoes and anything else with a soft skin on it and for breads, the serrated knife works best because it doesn’t smash what you’re cutting.
- If a dish calls for milk, you can use almond milk, and if you want an even creamier texture, use almond milk creamer (not flavored).
- Instead of regular salt consider switching to Himalayan Pink Salt. I love it because it tastes good and adds unexpected flavor depth to foods. You can read here how this salt benefits your health. I love that it contains 84 minerals and at least 10 other trace minerals plus iodine.
- Last, but not least, if you are like me, you have come to love baking with parchment paper. Did you know you can reuse it? You can reuse it at least once. Eventually it will dry out, so once it starts to darken, just toss it.