Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shortcuts are Good, or The Thrifty Cook

"Shortcuts are good" and "who's got time for that?" These are common expressions adopted from a friend of my sister. She must be a practical, busy woman.  I use it to explain why, despite my cooking hobby, I do not make everything from scratch. I use commercial pasta sauce,  canned beans, bagged salad greens, frozen potato croquettes, bouillon blocks, jarred fond, and lots more convenience foods.

But I also make some of my own convenience foods, usually just trying to be less wasteful. Or I try to prepare things in the weekend ready for lunches and quick suppers in the rest of the week.

  • The skin of every lemon that comes into my house is scrubbed and grated before it is squeezed for its juice. The lemon rind goes into a little jar in the freezer, and every time I need some, I just scrape out the amount I need.
  • Extra lemon juice is saved in another little jar, or frozen into ice cubes containing a tablespoon each. They defrost in no time, ready for use in salads, sauces, or baking.
  • Chicken, beef, and lamb bones are simmered in some water, maybe with some vegetables and parsley stems, before being discarded. I freeze the resulting broth in ice cube bags or small containers for use in soups, salads and sauces. This reduces the need for bouillon cubes.
  • If I have a largish bunch of basil, I'll make pesto and freeze it into ice cubes, ready to be defrosted and used on crackers, pasta, or tomato salad.
  • I clean and save handy-size glass jars so that I can save extra dressings, sauces, and odds and bobs of dried goods. My favourites are peanut butter jars (for broth and blanched vegetables), Bonne Maman jam jars (for nuts, seeds, rice, sugar, orzo), Conimex sambal jars (for dressings, lemon juice, and lemon zest), and AH fond jars (for everything).
  • Canadian milk bags are also a great way to save foods. They are sturdy plastic, in a convenient size, perfect as lunch bags or freezer bags. I never buy plastic lunch or freezer bags. (Thanks Mom, for saving these for me!)
So what are some of your tips and tricks for shortcuts and thrift?

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