Saving money & getting the highest quality & flavor is where it’s at these days; so here are some tips on getting the best of both. These ideas will stretch your budget and make your meals easier & healthier.
I.Plan your Meals- Daily Dinners & Menus for the week. No Impulse Shopping & No convenience foods. As you plan the menu, clip coupons & look for specials that go with your items. Make a list of items in the recipe then look your pantry & frig to make sure you need them. Always use dated items first. Stick to the list & you will cut your cost.
II.Make Ahead Dishes- Investing Time in the Kitchen will save big later. After choosing your menu & purchasing the items needed take time to prep & get ready all the items you can, even cooking some dishes ahead will save valuable time when preparing meals.Consider making all foods for your family from scratch. This ensures that leftovers are fresher and do not contain as much preservatives. Use leftovers for lunches & even shortcut meals, such as quesadillas, soups & sandwiches.
III.Stick to Seasonal Items- Use fresh seasonal produce & have the Butcher cut & weigh your meats, fish, & poultry. Look for the freshest ingredients available. These will taste better, be healthier & last longer. Wash & dry all items before storing. Always follow proper guidelines & never cross contaminate foods. Buy a Whole Chicken & cut it up yourself…. every dollar counts. Cook tougher cheaper cuts of meat in the crock pot it tenderizes them more. Remember using protein sources such as beans, eggs & nuts to get your nutrients more cost efficiently.
IV. Prepare Freezer Friendly foods- When your budget has room, use a day to cook up quantities & freeze. If you have the extra time & money utilize it for freeing your family favorites. Soups, Stews, Meatloaf, Chili, Burgers, even sweets, such as cakes & pies. Fresh batch cookies can be frozen before or after baking.
Summers End-Preserving & Canning
My simple how-to guide will have you canning your summer harvest in no time.
Preserving and canning can seem intimidating at first, but they can be an easy way to save money and give fruits and veggies a longer shelf life. You can enjoy homegrown vegetables and fresh fruit year round. Also make pickles, salsa, jams and jellies from scratch.In my Cookbooks I share Step by Step Instructions on Home Canning but here I’ll share some Quick & easy tips to help you get started. Getting Started Before you get started, it's important to have all the right tools. Here's a list:
Mason jars with new lids and bands.
Everyday kitchen utensils such as a spatula funnel and tongs.
Produce or Fruits you wish to process.
A pressure canner or a boiling water bath canner.
Labels & a permanent marker.
Foods with high acidity, such as fruits and tomatoes, can be processed in a boiling water bath canner. These foods are naturally acidic and able to kill bacteria at boiling point (120°). Foods with low acidity, like green beans, most vegetables and soups, require a pressure canner which reaches high enough temperatures (240-250°) to kill any bacteria.
Although low-acidity and high-acidity foods use different kinds of canners, the overall canning process is basically the same for both.
∙Gather ingredients; read recipe and instructions. ∙Wash and dry jars, lids and bands. ∙Prepare food. ∙Remember to adjust the processing time to your altitude ∙Fill prepared jars with food, leaving appropriate headspace as called for in recipe. (Headspace is the space between the food and the lid.) If the recipe calls for it, remove air bubbles in food by running a spatula between the food and the inside of the jar. ∙Clean rim of jar and place lid on top, making sure it's centered so the seal makes contact with the rim. Tightly screw on band. ∙Place filled jars in canner. If using a pressure canner, follow manufacturer's directions. If using a boiling water canner, fill water a few inches over top of jars and bring to a boil. Depending on the recipe and your altitude, processing times will differ. Usually a 45 minute water bath is required fro most all recipes. ∙Remove jars from canner and let sit upside down 12-24 hours. Don't retighten or adjust the bands.
∙To be sure the lid is sealed to the jar rim, press the indention on the lid. If the lid stays put, the jar was sealed successfully. If you can feel or hear a popping the lid was not sealed successfully, you will need to place the unsealed jars in the refrigerator & use within 7-10 days. ∙Re-Use Mason jars to preserve foods, but never re-use the lids. ∙Only use a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner. Open-kettle canning or the use of a dishwasher, oven or microwave for processing is not recommended ∙Canned food should only be kept up to a year. Only can the amount of food your family will consume over the span of a year. ∙Label & Date your jars and store in a dry, cool place.
∙When the Snow Flies…………………ENJOY!
Tried & True Techniques
Slicing Strawberries & Mushrooms with an Egg slicer makes uniform & neat lines for decorating & takes less time.
Coating Pans with Sugar instead of Flour does away with white residue.
Knead sticky recipes in a ziplock bag, such as meatloaf or bread dough.
Use plastic disposable gloves for handling raw meats.
Skim Fat from skillet by blotting grease with a slice of bread.
For Better Browning Meats Blot dry with a Paper towel.
For a quick & easy trick to filling pasta & other stuffers; try a pastry bag without the tip, just slit a corner.