Monday, November 17, 2008

Recession? 10 smart ways to save money on groceries

I am living in a part of the world where we take food for granted, that food are and will be available in abundance. This is, sadly not, the case for the majority of the worlds population. I have always considered wasting food as a mortal sin. Here are some pieces of advice on how to not waste food, how to conserve your leftovers, and recycle them into delicious new dishes, and save money on groceries.

Advice number 1: Plan what you need for the coming week!

I am living alone, and try to plan my food consumption for one week at a time. Then it is easier to find out what and how much to buy for the period. A good day to do your grocery shopping is Saturday. Then you can plan for the week ahead and start preparing fish or meat dinners for you and your family on Sunday. When you plan, try to think of how much you will need for the different meals during the week. Try not to buy too many varieties of cheese or meat products for your sandwiches, unless they have a favourable use by date.

Advice number 2: Buy food once a week

My experience is to avoid buying food every day. If you do some strategic planning, the only thing you may have to buy during is milk for your coffee. If you buy food several times a week you risk ending up with too many products that will go bad in you refrigerator.

Advice number 3: Respect the use-by date

The date of consumption shows you the recommended point of time by which you should prepare or use the food. The "use by" date shows you the last recommended point of time of use. This does not necessarily mean that the food has gone bad after this point, but I highly recommend not to eat it after the date. If you see that food are close to the date, divide it into several small portions and freeze it in.

The "best before" date means that the food in itself will not go bad after the date, but storing it further may affect the taste or quality of the product.

Advice number 4: Prepare several different ingredients on the same time

A good idea is to bake different ingredients in the oven, in one large pan.

I love to prepare vegetable and different meats in one pan, on a very low heat for a very long time. If you, e.g. buy three fresh chicken, rub them with lots of spices, then place them on top of diced well seasoned vegetables and bake them in the oven for 4-5 hours at 100C / 210F, you get many ingredients to use for the coming week. During the preparation period you do not even have to stay in your house, but go for a walk in the park or have a coffee in the nearest coffee bar. And the end result is mouthwatering tender.

Advice number 5: The expensive cuts are not necessarily the best

You can have great success with the less tender cuts of meat if you know how to prepare them.

I have already shown you how to prepare delicious stews from cheaper cuts of beef, and how to prepare a long roast shoulder of lamb until it ends up deliciously succulent and tender after five hours at a low temperature. In many dishes you have to use tough meat, as in the famous beef stew from Burgundy where the meat will simmer for five hours or more and in this stew, the wine is the most expensive ingredient.

And by buying larger chunks of food you may even save a lot of money and still experience gourmet style dinners.

Advice number 6: Recycle food!

Cool down leftover food and recycle. I have used leftover puff pastry and mashed potatoes as thickeners in leftover soups and it works well. Use leftover vegetables in other stews during the coming week. Freeze down leftover wine to use in food later. Clean the lamb or chicken carcasses, place in zip lock bags or containers, cool down or freeze for later use.

Make a good stock from the leftover chicken. If you have only one carcass, freeze it down and make a stock when you have another chicken carcass to prepare. Make a stock from the bones of the pork chops and do not throw away the waste of boiled shrimps - use it to make a fish soup!! There are no limits for your fantasy, and recycling food can wake up the alchemist in many of us.

Advice number 7: Plan your week ahead, make portions for every day

For me this has been a success when I have had time to do it. I do not mind eating a good stew several days in a row. If you prepare a large portion cool it down and fill up containers, one for each day. In this way you may come home, take out one, place it in the microwave and - hey presto, dinner!!

Many stews (if properly cooled down when you first made it) will keep for at least three days in the fridge. Excess portions may be put in the freezer for later use. When you reheat it you can spice it up by adding cheese or chili flakes for variation.

Advice number 8: Do not open up more packets than you need

You have probably experienced that you find leftover cheese with green fur and dried slices of salami in the back of your refrigerator. I have! That happens most often when I have opened up too much and did not manage to eat it up. You are well advised to only open up what you need, and you know you can eat.

Advice number 9: Use your freezer strategically - use what you put in!

I have a bad habit! I put too much into my freezer, and too little is taken out. This is such a common problem. Most foods may not stay in there forever, in fact some foods must be used within 3-6 months, if not it will seriously affect the quality. When used properly, a freezer is a great asset for you and your economy. You will have an efficient use of the food you place there if used within time, and you can create new and interesting dishes

Advice number 10: Recycle leftover leftovers in your compost

Food is organic matter and may be absorbed by the nature instead of taking up place in the rubbish heap. Where you have recycling of organic matter - use it. It you do not have it, and can, make a compost heap for your leftover leftovers. In this way you make your contribution to a greener society where you live!!


John said...

That was a good read, Tor! (from John in Majorstua! :) said...

Good tips, I am going to start planning my week ahead.