- check your cabinets and refridgerator once a week. if you have foods that are almost expired, use those first. this almost always includes fresh fruits and veggies and can often include dairy products like cheese, milk and eggs.
- plan a weekly menu. this can definitely be a struggle (especially for me!) as it is often easier to fly by the seat of your pants when preparing meals. but planning ahead can keep you from wasting food, making multiple trips to the grocery store or even letting some ingredients go unused. you'll be glad you did when you only have to make one trip to the grocery store instead of 3.
- plan meals strategically. if you're going to use 1/2 a can of corn in a recipe on monday, find another recipe you can put corn in later in the week or have it as a side dish to something else. one of my favorite ways to do this is to use the "ingredient search" on allrecipes.com. (http://allrecipes.com/Search/Ingredients.aspx if you're interested.)
- don't waste even the smallest amount. if you have a tiny bit of cheese left, mix it into some sauce and put it over pasta. be creative. one of the yummiest dinners we've ever had was when i used just 1 piece of fresh deli turkey, skillet-grilled with onions, garlic and eggs, topped with cheese and then wrapped up in tortillas for breakfast burritos. just 1 slice of turkey make a delicious dinner and didn't go to waste.
- use the bad, make it good. now, clearly you can't make something "good" out of spoiled milk, but some foods you can save right before they're bad (or right after they're "bad" - the expiration dates on food are often overly cautious) and turn them into something yummy. it's always fun to use brown bananas for something so here's a yummy recipe i like to use.
whole wheat banana bread
1/3 applesauce or non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar + a little extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
a dash of cinnamon (optional)
1. preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. in a large bowl, beat applesauce/yogurt, honey and brown sugar together. add eggs, and mix well. stir in bananas and vanilla. stir in flour and salt. add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. blend in chopped nuts and cinnamon (optional). spread batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
3. bake for 45 to 60 minutes. check often - different ovens have different cook times! cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing.
some of these tips may seem simple, but the pennies saved from implementing them in your kitchen count. so plan ahead, prepare and push your tiny budget farther than it has gone before.
thanks to allrecipes.com for the picture
recipe adpated by yours truly from "whole wheat banana nut bread" on allrecipes.com