Archive for the 'Single Suggestions' Category

A Single Suggestion: Ways to Stretch Meat

I love meat.  Most of the dishes I make include meat in some form.  But meat can be the most expensive item on my grocery bill.  So here are some ways I make sure that the meat I buy goes further…

1. Chunk it. Make recipes that call for cubed or striped meat.  One chicken breast can serve 2-3 if it’s cubed into a soup, stew, casserole, or rice bake.

2. Flatten it. Flatten your meats with a meat mallet/tenderizer.  Put it in a plastic bag or in between plastic wrap and beat it until it’s an even thickness.  One flattened chicken breast can be cut into 2-3 portions.

3. Grind it. Buy ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork) or grind it yourself (use the Kitchen Aid Mixer attachment).  Ground meat goes a lot further in a recipe.  I know that Publix will grind meat for you if you ask, and I’m sure other stores will as well.

4. Sandwich it. You just don’t need as much meat on a sandwich when compared to a slab of meat on a plate.

5. Use it all. Buy the whole chicken and use all the pieces.  Cook it in a slow cooker and save the broth for another recipe.

A Single Suggestion: Sanitizing your Sponge

Sponges go on sale a lot, but I’ve always wanted to make my sponge last longer than it does.  It gets quite groddy quite quickly!  I’ve finally found the answer… actually, 2 of them.

  • Place your sponge on the top shelf of your dishwasher and wash it with the normal load of dishes.
  • Soak your sponge and wring it out.  Place it in your microwave.  Microwave on a low setting for 1-2 minutes until it is mostly dry.

Not a bad idea, huh!?

PLUS – Sponges are on sale this week at Kroger.  Check it out:

Scotch-Brite Sponge, 1 ct, $1.00 ea
Scotch-Brite Sponges, 3 ct, $1.88 ea
-$1.00/2 Scotch-Brite Scrub Sponge SS 3/7, 4/11
-$1.00/2 Scotch-Brite Scrub Sponge printable
-$1.00/1 Scotch Brite Product printable
Final Price: FREE!

A Single Suggestion: “The Brown Sugar Trick”

I read this in Real Simple this weekend (my favorite magazine!) and had to do some research…

Have you ever pulled the brown sugar off the shelf only to find it is as hard as a brick?  This happens to me all the time!  So, apparently, there is a cure for such a problem… several, in fact!

1. Put 1-2 mini marshmallows in the bag.

2. Put a slice of bread in the bag 24 hours before you want to use it.  Overnight, the brown sugar will suck in the moisture from the bread and be soft again.

3. Place the brown sugar in the microwave on low for 30-60 seconds.  Not necessarily soft, but malleable enough to work with.

I’ve tried the third, but I will be trying the first and the second sometime in the near future.  Have you tried these tricks before?  Did it work?!

A Single Suggestion: Just Add Salt!

It wasn’t until a recent cooking endeavor that I realized the power of salt in a recipe.  I found an awesome recipe for Vegetable & Lentil stew.  I had all the ingredients on hand, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  It smelled delicious  as it was cooking and I was excited to try it.  I took one bite and wasn’t thrilled.  I took another and worry set in.  I had doubled the recipe and now was going to be eating this tasteless soup for another 2 weeks!  Don’t fret… a simple solution….

SALT!

I added a bit more salt to the soup and voila – it was delicious!  Who knew one ingredient, let alone salt, could make such a difference!?!

I looked up some other uses for salt in cooking, just for my mental roladex, and this is what I found:

Salt is good for…

  • Raising the temperature at which water boils and lowering the temperature at which it freezes.
  • Enhancing flavor, helping to reduce bitterness and acidity, and bringing out other flavors in the food.
  • Try sprinkling salt on citrus fruit, melons, tomatoes, and even wine to enhance flavor.
  • Adding a little salt balances the flavor of sweets like cakes, cookies, and candies.
  • Boiling eggs in salted water makes them easier to peel.
  • Adding a pinch of salt (preferably non-iodized) to cream or egg whites before they’re whipped increases their volume and serves as a stabilizer.
  • Can be stored indefinitely.
  • Preserving meats, fish, cheese, and other foods.  It works by absorbing moisture from the cells of bacteria and mold through osmosis, which kills them or leaves them unable to reproduce.
  • Salting slices of eggplants helps draw out the bitter juices.
  • Sprinkling salt on meat before broiling or grilling it draws moisture from the center, making it browner on the outside, but less juicy on the inside.

Now, that’s cool!

Source: Cook’s Thesaurus

A Single Suggestion: We Gladly Break Packages.

A sign by the meat case at Publix reads:

“Want more or less?  We gladly break packages.  Just ask!”

I love this and for a single person, it’s an incredible deal.  One of the reasons I love Publix so much is that the meat looks fresh and is fresh.  But they go one step further, they offer to split the package of beef, chicken, pork, or most other kinds of meat.  Plus, they do it with a smile.  Can’t beat that service!

There’s a couple things to keep in mind here…

If the meat you’d like is on sale… buy MORE!  It’s the basic rule of stockpilingFreeze it and use it in the future if you have too much.

If the meat you’d like isn’t on sale… BREAK the package.  Take Publix (or other grocery stores) up on their offer.  Buy only what you’ll need and it’ll save you money.

A Single Suggestion: Partition your Portions!

I try to follow this tip every week… and every week, it saves me so much.  Reading anything on this blog will tell you that I LOVE tupperware!  It’s a slight obsession.  Any size.  Any shape.  I’ll take it.  So my daily packed lunch is totally-tupperwared-out.  But whether you use plastic bags or tupperware, this tip will work.

At the beginning of each week OR when you get it all home from the grocery store, go ahead and partition your portions.  Split your baby carrots into different containers.  Cut your celery or cantaloupe right away.  Count out your pretzels, crackers, or cookies and zip up the bag.  Make enough to either use up the item or have enough for the week.  When it comes time to pack your lunch, you’re ready.

PLUS, it helps you curb your snacking.  If everything is already bagged and boxed, it’s ready to be used as a whole – not just a sneaky bite here or there.

A Single Suggestion: Scope out the stores!

When I first moved to Nashville, the only grocery store I had heard of before was Kroger.  So that’s where I went… always.  Then I discovered Harris Teeter that was right around the corner.  Then a new Publix opened up just down the road.  Now, I’ve been to smaller convenience stores in the area, and just recently I’ve discovered Aldi.  Shopping around has made for some great deals and new finds.

So here’s my suggestion…

:: Scope out all the stores in your town.  Don’t just limit yourself to the one you “always go to.”

:: Do some price comparisons on your favorite/always-buy items.

:: Do some quality comparisons on your favorite/always-buy items.

:: Split your shopping up if it’s worth it in cost and in quality! Most people’s hearts sink a little when their “frugal friends” tell them to go to multiple stores, as most of us just don’t have the time.  But the plan I’ve developed recently simplifies this problem.  Two stores a week – no matter what.  I’ll just pick the two stores with the best deals, create one shopping plan, and hit them both at the same time.  With a list, I’m in and out in no time and I never miss my favorite deals.

So drive around town, check out the stores, and decide to try out a new one.  It’ll be worth it!

What are your favorite stores?  Do you go to more than one?


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