Oh, how my husband used to complain about all the food we used to throw out back when our grocery budget was much larger. Admittedly, there was so much waste! Now that we spend about a tenth of what we used to, just about nothing gets thrown out. Here’s some ideas for you when you are getting ready to toss things in danger of going bad:
Bread: We typically buy our bread on the day old racks and then freeze it or at the very least keep it in the fridge if there is no space in the freezer. If it starts feeling dry it is a perfect excuse to make french toast. I’ll mix eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla in a bowl and dip the dry bread into it. Then, cook on the griddle on medium to medium high. If I don’t have a lot of takers standing around I will put those slices on a chilled baking sheet, covered with wax paper and flash freeze. You can also cut the pieces in strips and toast in oven before freezing. I keep the pieces wrapped in wax until frozen solid and then put them in a large freezer bag. They heat up nicely in the microwave for breakfast on hectic mornings and I have saved a lot of money by not having to buy these things prepackaged.
Bananas: I just recently learned that you can buy ripe bananas for baking at Safeway for $.30 per pound instead of the regular $.59 or more. Banana bread just got a lot more frugal! Yes, you can make banana bread with them, or puree for homemade baby food or seal them in a freezer bag and add the frozen chunks to smoothie’s.
Fresh Fruit: Add those frozen bananas and you have a great frozen smoothie mix. I always buy my yogurt in the clearance section at Safeway and put it right into the freezer in most cases. If you do this you may want to keep a Sharpie taped to the fridge to mark the date you took it out of the freezer. And then I toss in whatever berries I might have available. It’s hard to believe we used to pay $3 or $4 for a bag of frozen smoothie mix or gasp… $4 a cup at Jamba Juice. If berries are $1 or less I always buy lots of extras and put them right into the freezer. You can defrost pretty quickly in the microwave and serve over your cheap frozen yogurt and sprinkle with granola for a fast weekday breakfast.
Tomatoes: If they are starting to get mushy you may not want to save them for a salad. You can however toss them into any type of freezer cooking style sauce or soup you are making or a casserole. Or chop them up make a homemade pico de gallo if you have onions, cilantro and lime on hand.
Potatoes- obviously you can whip them in to mashed potatoes. Or bake the ones that are starting to sprout on one tray and a batch of new ones on a second baking sheet. Scoop the insides out of the old potatoes and use that for your stuffing. Add sour cream, bacon bits, green onions or anything else your family likes. Mash and then stuff the newer potatoes with mixture, wrap tightly and freeze.
Don’t bother with lettuce, once it’s bad toss it out. Do not try to freeze cookie mix and most doughs and whole eggs. Sour cream also does not freeze well. It doesn’t seem to go bad or have a bad taste but the consistency is just not good after freezing. When it’s on sale I do freeze margarine, just about any cheese, yogurt and lunch meats.