Cooking With Food Scraps: Stretching The Family Food Dollar

Grocery prices have skyrocketed in recent months and families are trying stretch their food budget which is where cooking with scraps can help. Instead of scraping those plates into the trash or tossing those vegetable bits into the compost pile, make another meal or side dish out them. Cooking with your food scraps can help make the most of your food dollars.

Chili from Scraps

Use a resealable freezer container to hold leftover scraps. Ground beef leftovers such as taco meat, sloppy Joes, a single hamburger patty or the end of the meatloaf can go into the container. Tomato based products like spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, marinara, even tomato juice or tomato soup can be added to the container. When it is full, dump the contents into your stock pot and add kidney beans, onions and seasonings. Even though the dish may be different every time, it’s always good.

Leftover Potato Skins

Next time you bake potatoes, bake some extra ones. When they are finished, remove the flesh from the potatoes and store in a freezer bag or container. These can be used for adding to mashed potatoes or by themselves as a quick side dish. Lay the skins out on a baking sheet. Top them with cheese and bacon bits. Heat in the oven until the cheese melts. When they are cooled, slip them into freezer containers and save until you need a quick snack. Then reheat and top with sour cream.

Citrus Rinds

Many recipes call for lemon peel or the zest of 1 orange. These seasonings are not used often and can be difficult to keep fresh in the cupboard for extended periods. After squeezing lemons to make juice or peeling an orange, grapefruit or lime, save the large pieces of the rinds. Store them, separately, in freezer bags. Next time you need a little lemon peel, take the bag out and grate the rind while it is still frozen. It is easy to handle and your ingredients will be fresh.

Vegetable Soup Base

Vegetable scraps are so versatile. Many folks save them for the compost pile but you can sometimes get another meal out them and THEN add them to the compost pile. Save carrot and celery ends, mushroom stems, onion and garlic peels, and the stems and leaves from herbs.

Store them in a container in the freezer and keep adding to it. When you have enough, dump the contents into your stock pot, add water and the meat of your choice unless you are just making vegetable broth. You can skim the vegetables out when you’re finished so the compost pile isn’t neglected.

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