Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Tips This Tuesday

 Today is just a few reminders on things we can all do to save a few dollars here and there in our kitchens and around the home.  It is essential more today than ever, to stretch what we have and save on money.
I know many of these have been shared in the past - just reminders.


Freeze eggs - the price of eggs keeps going up with this avian flu thing going on.  If you can get a deal - get them.  Freeing eggs is easy and it works great for eggs for baking or cooking.  No, you couldn't really use like a hard boiled egg - but other uses work fine.

I freeze in muffin pans - 1 egg per spot (ice cube trays seem too small to me).  Once frozen set in the sink with a bit of warm water for a moment - just to loosen the bottom of egg.  Pop out and freeze.  I know some people dehydrated cook eggs - I have never tried that - but it is an option as well.

I manage to keep my bananas fresh for an extended period of time by using a plastic bag and tightly covering the stem part of bananas.
I wrap the plastic around the stem and then add a rubber band.  I can keep bananas for a couple weeks this way.  I suppose you could just do the stem part and be OK.  I have used the banana hangers as well in the past and they worked decent.  I like my plastic bag method - it seems to work the best for me.
IF my bananas get too ripe - I simply place them in a baggy in the freezer in the peel.  When I am ready to use for baking or a smoothy - I let them 'thaw' for a moment or two and remove the skin.

When processing and canning any tomato product this summer - make sure you save those skins.  Dehydrate until very dry - then grind into a powder.  Makes a great flavor enhancer to all kinds of things.  You can use a dehydrator or the oven on its lowest setting.  Waste nothing!

Dehydrate!!!!!  You can dehydrate summer squash very easily.  It is great to add to soups, casseroles and such.  You can dehydrate and salt and make chips (I really like them).  You can also dry and grind into a powder than can be added to foods (for that picky eater) for vitamins intake or  it can replace some of the flour in baked goods.  You can dehydrate just about anything.  It is a great way to keep fruits and veggies in a small contained area.  I do lots of squash, mushrooms, and tomato skins a lot.  I also dry many, many herbs and greens.  Greens can also be ground and added to other foods.
I like dehydrating those tough hard ends of asparagus and grinding.  Add to cream of soup!  Also, I do the bigger tough okra.  Dry, grind and you have a natural soup thickener (promise no slime).

IF growing cabbage - do not pull out the plant when harvesting.  Cut the head off and let it continue to grow.  You will get several mini heads of cabbage to grow back.  The same with broccoli (if it isn't too hot and goes to flower).

Use grape leaves instead of pickle crisp.  I add about 3 leaves per quart to homemade pickles (either cuke or squash) to keep them crisp.  Works great.  Now squash pickles will never be as crisp as cucumber pickles - but they sure are good.  

  • Use less.  We all eat too much - and using less not only helps our pocketbooks but our waistlines as well
  • Simplify meals
  • Leftovers - bits and bobs - freeze in ice cube trays.  Gravy, juices, veggies, fruits, etc. - to use n new ways and in new things.  I waste no broth from cooking meat in a crockpot - I freeze it.  Makes for great flavoring
  • Watch clearance and markdowns - get the best price you can.
    I buy clearance produce and it comes in these mesh bags.  I can get 3 or 4 bell peppers, maybe 6 potatoes, 5 or 6 apples or oranges, all kinds of things for .99/bag.  This is a great deal when you live alone.  Sure is cheaper than buying a big bag of something.  Second bonus - I keep the bags - pull off the labels, and reuse them when shopping for regular produce instead of using plastic.  They also can made into great kitchen scrubbers.
  • If someone wants to give you something - let them.  If you can't use it - share with another.  I was told by an elderly gentleman years ago - never tun down something free.  Someday you may need something and if you burn all your bridges - you may be out of luck!!!!
  • If you don't have cookbooks - utilize the computer or the library.  There are many, many books available with old time recipes and simple recipes - all of which are tasty.
  • Water things down.  Not everything has to be used full strength.  I not only water down detergents but fruit juice, condensed soups, and I add extra liquid to dry soups.  You can extend things with adding a little extra water, milk, juice, or broth
  • Serve smaller meat portions.  We eat too much meat.  Decease the size and make it a side not a main course.  Add less meat to soups and casseroles.  Extend it as much as possible.  I like using bacon grease or other flavorings for flavor - thus I get the meat flavor - just not as much meat.
We can really extend our groceries if we try.  We all know soups and casseroles are great ways to extend about any food.  
We may have to try new ways to save.  Be open to experimenting a bit.
What are some great ideas you have to help save on grocery shopping?

46 comments:

  1. Half an onion vs a whole one is usually adequate to flavor a casserole or soup. When grocery shopping, aim for no empty calories (avoid junk food like chips, sodas, etc.), When the small steel wool pads aren't available, I cut the big ones in half. Dryer sheets are used twice, i.e. use 2 used sheets for a dryer load. I have the dryer balls but don't find them so great in reducing static or dry time. Buy on sale whenever possible.

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    1. Great tips. I cut Brillo pads in half - I rarely use. I also cut dryer sheets in thirds - rarely use those as well. True on the onion! Love these!!!!!

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    2. I haven't used dryer sheets in 25+ years. I use Ecos laundry liquid buying the BIG jug at Costco. It lasts a full year so a bit over $1/month for us with a HE washer. We rarely have static-I'm guessing it is caused by all the chemicals in detergents and then "they" get to sell you a dryer sheet too?

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    3. I only use the dryer sheets on rare occasions. I use vinegar in my rinse or line dry. Rarely have I experienced static.

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  2. Folks (that includes the Urban Farmer and myself!) definitely eat too much and especially meat. Not every meal has to have some sort of meat. We had red beans and rice yesterday for lunch and will finish it up for lunch today. Gone are the days of filling our plates more than once and we usually use a luncheon size plate. I used to cook as if farm hands were coming in from baling hay and were going to sit at our table. That's a very unhealthy way to eat.

    I have not tried to freeze eggs. We get enough from our four hens to supply our needs and our daughter's. It probably would be a good idea to freeze onions, peppers and celery. I saw on Pinterest the way to can butter. We buy ghee from Costco when they have it. Certainly much cheaper than buying small jars from the grocery store.

    We watched a walking tour of Indianapolis yesterday on YouTube. We haven't been downtown in so long and it was interesting to see the changes.

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    1. Yes, people sure did cook differently when the work was more manual than it is today. I often have no meat. Beans work fine.
      I chop and freeze peppers, onions and celery all the time. So convenient and I don't have to buy those bags in the freezer dept.
      Ghee is expensive - nice to know how to make your own.
      I will check out You Tube!

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    2. Here is the link to the YouTube video we watched. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhF3ecwMhXc

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  3. I do the things you have mentioned, I do not have a dehydrator but many things can be done in a low oven if needed. I plan for this in the summer to avoid over heating the house. I always plan things when I have to use the oven, cook many things at once. I even do bacon in the oven, I can cook it there without making a mess. I throw in in the freezer and just pull out a few slices as needed and warm in the microwave. You can do the same thing with sausage. I always save grease of drippings when I cook meat. You can pull those out and make a tasty gravy at any time, My son's favorite is sausage gravy over biscuits, I can pull the fixings out any time when he visits For me that is the greatest thing!! Like you say when you live alone you have to find many ways to use the food you purchase, I have learned to step back and really think about what and how I can use different things, I do this to save money, avoid waste and eat well.

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    1. I used the oven to dehydrate before I got the dehydrator - I just have a cheaper version and it is fine for me. I discovered using the oven on bacon a couple years back - what a game changer. I love it. The drippings can flavor almost anything to taste yummy!
      I am with your son - love, love biscuits and sausage gravy.
      There are lots of tricks we can all use.

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  4. Bananas will keep a while in the refrigerator. The outside will get dark, but the inside stays fresh and firm. We're working on portion control, too, especially since Husband has put on weight. A little less each day and you won't miss it. Same goes for dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, etc. Coffee prices have risen greatly (Duncan Donuts was $18 for a 100 cup package at WalMart recently), so Husband is making his less strong and doesn't miss it.
    Tying a bar of soap in a mesh produce bag makes a good hand scrubber when you've been out in the garden and your hand are very dirty. (old Girl Scout camp trick!)

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    1. Yes Frances, I put the left over slivers of bar soaps in a sock and use those in the shower so they are not wasted,

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    2. Frances - I have done the frig thing with bananas too. We can all stand to use less of just about everything. I do that with soap for garden hands.
      Prices are amazing. I know a lot is about where we live, but things are going up. Some places are worse than others.

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    3. I have sewn a wash cloth in half - leaving a slot for soap to use in the tub many times in my life!

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  5. Can you--or anyone--recommend a good dehydrator that doesn't get really hot when drying herbs, fruit and veggie slices? I'd like to try to dehydrate again to have quick ingredients for soups and stews, but didn't have luck with it years ago as the dehydrator got so hot I worried it might start a fire in my kitchen.

    We're cutting back on meats as carefully as possible. Diabetics need protein for a good glycemic index, and my hubby is already at the weekly Trulicity shot phase. what we've been doing is adding LOTS of veggies to soups, stews, etc. But at Dollar General yesterday, I noticed frozen veggies are now down to 10 oz. per package (for $1), and the off-brand canned veggies are now 90 cents. Looks like I'll be drying and freezing produce more, so any tips are appreciated.

    Thanks, Cheryl! I look forward to these posts. --Elise

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    1. Elise, I use a 5-tray Chefman dehydrator. Not fancy and was inexpensive. I use it on granite countertops and it doesn't get too hot. If I didn't have granite, I'd probably put it on my stovetop. I have a gas stove, so would need something to set on the grates to keep it balanced. Maybe a griddle? Mine doesn't have a timer, so I set an alert on my cell phone, as a reminder to check it. I rarely run 5 trays at a time, and I like being able to use it with the amounts I need to process. To keep the fine herbs from dropping thru, I bought some window screening and cut it to size. Air still moves through, but the dried herbs don't fall through. It was an issue with cut chives, and this certainly helped. Hope this helps!

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    2. My dehydrator is a Nesco - about $40. Can add extra trays. No timer - just a fan. I place it downstairs on the closed washer or dryer. I use it for zucchini, tomato skins, mushrooms and herbs. Many herbs I just allow to air dry. I have had good luck with this dehydrator.
      The shrinking of product is a big ongoing problem. Pay the same or more and get less. Aggravating!!!!

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    3. Thanks Lori for helping with that question. We sure do figure out ways to improvise and improve things!

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    4. Thank you, Lori... and Cheryl. We had a solid wood, butcher block counter in the kitchen for about 15 years. It was during that time I worried the dehydrator was getting too hot. It never occurred to me (duh!) to put it somewhere else, and eventually resorted to oven-drying, which had mixed results. Freezing produce became my go-to option after learning how to do it, but we had a full size freezer then. That's on my list of things to buy once we're in our new house. I'll look into dehydrators, too. We'll have room for a big garden, sooo... Elise

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  6. All good tips! We tried cutting back on meals and then we were snacking all the time. We don't over eat to begin with so this was a bad idea since snack foods cost more then veggies and such. I am thankful for all our discount grocery stores since they save us so much. I see such silliness on Youtube. Why buy a 10# bag of potatoes and then add canned potatoes and frozen potatoes to your cart? These were not to be added to a pantry but to be eaten this week. I made mashed potatoes last night and also cooked enough for a breakfast of home fries. So much of the ways to save need to be retrained in our brains so that we do not think convenience first. It maybe took me and extra 5 minutes to peel and cut two more potatoes and they will taste way better.

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    1. I really envy you and your discount grocery. I agree with you on fresh is best. I do keep a few canned potatoes and some frozen on hand just in case I can't/don't get to store and need potatoes for something - pure convenience. I prefer fresh as well. That is the reason I keep onion, celery and peppers in freezer (hand chopped.) instead of buying packages.

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  7. The first thing that came to mind when seeing the start of your post the Save on Groceries image), is that today is Tuesday and it's "senior" day at my grocery store, and that = 10% discount. They don't ask for ID or anything, just say "discount?" or "senior?" and you respond in the affirmative and they take it off. There are a few exceptions, but I've saved enough there to make me shop there on Tuesdays. I live in a townhome, so I'm limited in terms of gardening -- containers only, on my front steps (limited) or on my deck, and they encourage flowers only, and stipulate no produce may be planted in the gardens or planters at ground level (wildlife). I have deck rail boxes on my 2nd story deck (off my main living area). I plant flowers on the front (visible to the public) side and herbs and lettuces on the back side. I have fresh herbs to use in the summer months and dry them for use over the winter. I haven't bought basil, oregano, parsley, or chives in years! I've also dehydrated sweet potato slices for my pup -- the oven works better than the dehydrator for those, and it's much cheaper than buying the Sam's Yams. Need to dehydrate my tomato skins this year, when canning my stewed tomatoes and sauce.

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    1. Our grocery no longer has senior day. That makes me sad. I love that you have found A WAY to do a little gardening. It is just nuts in my mind that anyone would discourage people from growing food!!!! Always watch the farm markets for seasonal foods that can be put up for later. Great snacks for the pup.

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  8. I love that banana trick and will be using it this week. Strawberries in a jar work perfect too-they are good for at least a couple of weeks maybe three. I use the mesh bags for dish scrubbies.

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    1. I have to try that jar thing for fruit - I have not yet. I keep hearing it works wonders. Thanks for the reminder

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  9. Debby in Kansas USAMay 3, 2022 at 12:00 PM

    We're going to Aldi soon because we need eggs. I'm prepared for shock! I haven't been there in a while so I'm curious to see their prices. Aside from eggs and fresh salsa, it's mostly a stock up trip. I use a lot of canned food in winter so I feel a bit understocked come spring. I've been watching for strawberries to drop to $1 per pound and it's not happening.

    Isn't it funny how all those old Girl Scout tips are still so handy today? My parents were thrilled with the mesh soap idea for camping, as well as the hobo dinners in foil, s'mores, and kick the can ice cream. There were so many of them!

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    1. I need to venture there as well. I am sure things have changed. I think strawberries will be decently priced here in a few weeks (if trends happen this year).
      The old ideas are often the best. I have done all the ones you listed and I wasn't even a Girl Scout!!! LOL

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    2. Debby in Kansas USAMay 3, 2022 at 2:58 PM

      Cheryl, did you ever make a sit-upon? They were so handy! You take a daily newspaper (back when they were bigger!) and put it in plastic.Then you cut a slightly bigger square from a doubled vinyl/felt tablecloth. Punch holes around the whole thing. Put the newspaper in between for cush and then stitch yarn around to close it. In 2 corners, attach a braided yarn tie, long enough to tie around your waist. Then, when you're out walking by the lake, river, wherever, you have something to "sit-upon."! It keeps your heinie dry and clean. I kept mine for years and even used it for gardening. We made them in one troop meeting and I remember some of the girls added crochet ruffles to pretty them up.

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    3. Debby in Kansas USAMay 3, 2022 at 3:00 PM

      Forgot. The vinyl is outside.

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    4. No I never did that. May be something to think about making for working in the garden. Thanks

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    5. I had one of those sit-upons, except it was held together with plastic lacing instead of yarn. I haven't made one for gardening, but use a broken down cardboard box or, if the ground is very wet, an old plastic birdseed bag.

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  10. Great tips as usual. I never thought about only using 1/2 and onion for flavor, as onions are so plentiful here, but hey in lean times that is smart.

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    1. I am sure that it would be just fine - the flavor that is needed. Yep, come lean times, we could do all kinds of things.
      Thanks

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  11. I love the idea of drying the tough asparagus stems and okra and then grinding. I will be doing that! I grow okra and every summer I have a few tough ones when I miss a day or two of harvesting.

    We had 99 cents/lb strawberries here a couple months ago. I made jam and froze some too. Hoping the 99 price returns this month as it has in past months of May.

    Zucchini was 49 cents a pound recently and I dried a bunch. I love them as chips. So easy to eat as a snack or use in soups!

    Years ago my fancy digital dehydrator ( a gift from my MIL) died and I bought a simple plug in one for $5 at our church rummage sale. I use it on the kitchen counter. I don't want to leave it running unattended anywhere else. It has worked great for me.

    If and when I see a sale on eggs I'll be freezing some too.
    Fortunately, since I know how to bake without eggs it's not a big deal for us. My husband eats one egg a week so a dozen lasts for awhile. However, every so often I will bake and use an egg or two or three (like a fancy cake)!

    There are loads of recipes on the web for cooking/baking without dairy and eggs. My daughter said milk has gone up too.

    I cook my own dry beans and save the water from the cooked beans for soups.

    ~margaret

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    1. Well, I did the same with over grown okra - and thought there has to be a use for it. So I tried and diggity it worked!
      Sometimes the things we find at yard sales and thrift sales work wonderfully for years. I have a couple items like that.
      I like freezing eggs, just in case there would be a severe shortage or something. Now with the prices going up - it is handy too. I don't use a lot and bake without, but nice to have just in case. Yes, milk is up in price as well. Most things are.

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  12. Another great post Cheryl with lots of good ideas. I like when our friends post their ideas too...we are never too old to learn a new trick!

    I put off the wrapping cleaned celery in foil ...and tried it a few months ago. I am a believer! It stays fresh and crisp forever with no brown ends!

    My mom used to save the butter wrappers (in a jar?) to grease pans that were going in the oven with baked goods or casseroles.

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    1. Good one I forgot to mention. YES foil wrapped celery lasts a long time! I keep butter wrappers in the freezer in a baggy.
      We have received so many good ideas.

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  13. Wow, so many great tips, thanks to Cheryl and her readers!!

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    1. No problem. It is so cool how everyone shares!

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  14. Great tips - something I have learned is to shop less frequently. It's lowered my costs and I find I have less waste as well. In four months by a full 25%. And that's managing with the higher prices we're seeing now.

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    1. Good for you! That is fantastic. I think many shop out of habit - and if we stay home more and away from stores - we are better off.

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  15. Great tips as usual. I especially like the one about using water to extend soups and sauces. Reminded me of a joke "What does a restaurant owner call water"? PROFIT!

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    1. LOL - isn't that the truth!!! That's funny.
      We can always extend things in some way - whether it be with liquid or pasta, rice, etc.

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  16. I use a nine-tray Excalibur dehydrator and love it. I would keep pint jars of diced onions, celery, and carrots in order to just dump some in food instead of having to keep it fresh and dice it to use. I loved that.

    In Africa, the origin of our okra, I have heard Africans cannot understand why we eat the seed pod of okra instead of the leaves like they do. I won't be using okra in any form, but maybe you could cook the leaves like we do greens.

    Diluting shampoo and dish soap is more expensive for me as it pours too quickly. Since I am the only one using these two, I save money by using just a little bit. Tommy uses a different dish soap and does not want it diluted for the same reason. He is careful how much he uses.

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    1. Excalibur's are nice. I don't have a fancy one like that.
      Never heard of eating the leaves of okra. I heard the other day that pumpkin leaves are good as well. Gives us something to ponder.
      I use squirt bottles on all my soaps - s I find it easy to control the flow. Using less works great too.

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  17. I'm curious about using the grape leaves for the pickles. Can you freeze the leaves and use later on?

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  18. I too have an Excalibur dehydrator and I love it. We have Senior Day here the first Wednesday of every month and it is VERY busy. I find that the people/shoppers are very polite. May be a sign of manners that were taught back in my day as I'm one of the seniors. Ha! I do look online for digital coupons before heading to the store. Sometimes there are some good ones. Just bought celery and I'm off to wrap it as suggested. Thanks for the good tips.
    Ellie

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