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Stretching groceries

Posted by shwetagarg (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 20, 08 at 20:26

I think now is the time for me to stretch my groceries. I have started getting groceries when they are cheap and freeze them.
What else can i do?Really need to save some money.
I already have bellpeppers,carrots,cabbage.cauliflower,snake gourd in my freezer.any other vegies that i can freeze?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Stretching groceries

You can freeze any veggie, but all of them will diminish either somewhat or greatly in quality by doing so.

It also depends on how you intend to use them. For instance green peppers frozen, can go into meatloaf and may be OK for soups and casserole, but make for lousy stuffed peppers and won't work for stir fry or salads and are even 'iffy' for pizza if you like it crisp and crunchy.

If you are looking to save pennies, it is actually cheaper to can veggies and fruits, instead of freezing them. You are not running up the electric bill keeping them cold if they are canned. Home canning does not have to mean "yucky" like with commercial canned goods.

Same thing with dehydrating fruits, meats and certain veggies. One they are dry they can last almost forever and you are not running up your electric bill with an extra freezer running all year.


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RE: Stretching groceries

We use frozen bell peppers for stuffed peppers all the time. Actually prefer them for large batches since they become pliable (semi-frozen) and don't crack when trying to fit into casserole dish. It turns an expensive off season meal into very economical. Agree, not good for stir-fry or when they need to be crisp.

Its too late for Roma tomatoes, but I freeze those too. Freeze whole and its easy to pick out as many as you want. Skin pops right off as they begin to thaw. Sandy


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RE: Stretching groceries

In my area, Roma tomatoes are often marked down. So if you didn't grow any you can watch for sales. By and large, though, if I don't have home grown tomatoes, I buy diced tomatoes canned in tomato juice. They're great to have in the pantry. Drained, the chopped tomatoes will do for salad or tacos in a pinch. And you can drink the juice or use it in something else. I just looked to see what brand, and they are a store brand -- Great Value -- which is carried in our local Homeland (used to be Safeway) stores.

I do keep my dehydrated stuff in the freezer. A few years back I dehydrated quite a few bananas, put them in zip-lock bags and stored them away. A month or so later I noticed some kind of insects flying around, followed to the source, and, yup, they had actually made holes in the bags and ruined all my dried bananas! Plus sometimes if the dehydration process didn't get all the moisture or if some was attracted back in by humidity, you will get mold. Being dried, however, they will take up less space in the freezer and they are good to munch on. Peaches are absolutely the best.

If you have lots of space in your freezer, you can freeze whole grapes, sliced bananas, melon, apples, peaches. It does change the consistency and once frozen you can only eat them while still frozen or use them in cooked or baked dishes. Bananas can be frozen in the skin. The skin will turn black but the banana inside will keep its color and flavor. Apples and peaches need a dip in something, some people use ascorbic acid, I use 1 tbsp non-iodized salt in a gallon of water, to keep them from discoloring. Melon is good pureed and poured into popsickle molds.

Some veggies need to be steamed and cooled before they are frozen or they turn a little bitter in the freezing process. I'm not sure, but I think cabbage, cauliflower and carrot are in this category. For sure, if you cook your cabbage first in just a tiny bit of water, it will take up a lot less space in your freezer. --Ilene


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RE: Stretching groceries

If you shop regularly at one grocery, get to know the meat manager. At our grocery, he puts out specials on Thursday morning, early. I asked him if this was a weekly practice, and he said it was. Now I shop early on Thursday and load up on the specials. He doesn't even hold me to the "two to a customer" rule, bless his heart! Now is a good time to get an extra turkey and pop it in the freezer for later.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Now is an excellent time to be stocking up. It seems many of the basics like flour, sugar, butter, seasonings, etc. go on sale right now. I usally stick it all in the freezer to keep the bugs out and make it last longer. The fun stuff like chocolate chips, marshmallows, cool whip, and other temptations are also on sale. As mentioned, its a great time to buy an extra turkey or two. Hams may go on sale now and then again at Easter. I don't can anymore so I like to stock up on the canned soups and veggies.

I don't try to freeze many vegetables just because I don't like the way they turn out. I usually keep purchased frozen veggies on hand to complete a meal. A good time to buy those is on sale with a coupon or get store brand.

Fall is a good time to buy things like apples. I like to peel, slice, core them for dehydrating. We eat them like that just for a snack. My kids love homemade fruit roll-ups made out of dehydrated applesauce. I've made a lot of that this fall.

I've noticed a lot of stores cleaning out their inventory lately. I guess to make way for Christmas. I routinely look through the sale bins for specials to add to my stash.


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RE: Stretching groceries

We got a bargain on some citrus this past fall. Large 18 lb. bags of oranges and grapefruit for $6. I juiced most of them. I just ran out of energy before I finished the grapefruit - so I just peeled them and stuck the sections in baggies and froze. They are wonderful. We never let them comletely thaw, so I don't know what that would taste like. We let them thaw until there are still a few ice crystals and they taste somewhat like a sorbet. I wish I had tried it with the oranges before I juiced all of them.

I froze some cabbages a couple of years ago, some I blanched, some I didn't. We couldn't tell the difference. We use the cabbages as 'fried' cabbage. That's really just wilted cabbage with either bacon grease or olive oil. Now we don't get upset if they brown just a little in places.

I buy the marked down sacks of veggies in the stores. They will sometimes be a mixed lot. For the celery, onions, bell peppers, I dehydrate, especially the celery leaves, some - some I freeze on a cookie sheet,chopped of course. then put in bags. That way you can take out as much as you like. They are great for seasoning. I always keep my dehydrated foods in the freezer.

I did freeze some tomatoes whole this year, but haven't used them any way but salsa. They really made a good, fresh tasting salsa.

One day I got to the store just as the produce manager was bagging the marked downs. I got a huge number of the sacks and told him all I needed now for stir fry was broccoli. He pointed out that there were some of the bags of veggies - the kind that are already washed and ready to use. Some were the small flowerlets of broccoli, some were a cole slaw mixture made from cabbage and shredded broccoli stems. There were probably 6 to 8 packages for $1. We have really enjoyed them. I have used them in stir fry, casseroles and 'fried' the broccoli and cabbage.

For those of you who can, when you have onions that sprout and are to the point, you don't want to use them, plant them. Just stick them in the ground. I had some like that and just for grins I put them in the middle of the garlic row. I didn't see them doing anything last year and I harvested the garlic. This winter they have all multiplied and I have some great, although small, green onions. You could do that in just a flower bed.

Does anyone have a tried and true method for the fruit leather or rollups. I've never done that and would like to try?

One other thing, I bought a large bag of marked down fruit the other day and cut up the oranges, pears and apples for fruit salad. The orange juice kept the others from darkening and it lasted us about 3 days.

There were a couple of dozen limes and about a half dozen lemons in there. I juiced them and froze the juice in small quantities. An ice tray is the best, but of course, mine is in the storage building 'somewhere' so I just poured a little in some freezer containers and let it freeze - popped it out and put them in freezer bags. We use it mainly for ice tea, but sometimes recipes call for it - baking and glazes. I did microwave the lemons and limes before juicing, it really does help. It took a minute on my microwave, but it's a wuss of a microwave. A good one would probably take 30 seconds. Just check on them until they get kinda soft, as soft as if you had rolled them good. Don't let them cook, though. After one batch, you will know how long your microwave takes.

Thanks everyone, I always enjoy hearing about ways to save.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Turkeys do take up a lot of freezer space, but the breast of fresh ones can be cut out and sliced and fried like chicken delicious. The rest can be boiled, deboned, frozen, and used for broth, dumplings, dressing and soup. Bananas sliced crossways, dipped in chocolate shell, and frozen on a flat surface make a nice frozen snack to replace ice cream.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Be careful that you don't get into the trap of making/saving food that no one will eat. I have done that before and basically found out that a bag of frozen vegetables from the store is cheaper than something comparable I can freeze. And that I will always eat fresh vegetables and let the frozen ones go bad. So I don't buy any frozen vegetables anymore.


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RE: Stretching groceries

bumblebeez, that is a good tip. I have been guilty of freezing - even canning things - that we won't really eat.
It's a waste of time and freezer space.

Most of my frozen veggies are either homegrown or the marked down. I do buy fresh rather than buying frozen usually.

Another thing I did last summer to stretch things. We were going down a street and saw a sign 'Free Peaches'. I made husband stop and there was a sign leading to the back of the property to some peach trees with limbs breaking from too many peaches. These were small and you could tell they hadn't been sprayed because of the bug damage - that made them even better for me. We picked about 3 plastic grocery bags full - left a donation on the porch.

My husband likes just frozen fruit as a dessert, so I just peeled, and cut up these and froze them. As I peeled, I cut away the bug damage and saved the rest of the peelings. I had washed them reallly well. I boiled these peelings in a little water, strained them and made jelly. It only made one batch, but it's really tasty.

lexi, do you bread the turkey breast like you do fried chicken?


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RE: Stretching groceries

To save on groceries I do a lot of they above. I have a big garden in the summer and can and freeze a lot. I grew a lot of winter squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and pumpkin) that I store in the basement. Butternut squash soup with a homemade loaf of bread can feed four people for about fifty cents. I also picked all of my green tomatoes before our first frost and have them down the basement. They slowly turn red as the winter goes on. I go down and bring up the red ones once a week. My neighbor has a lot of fruit trees and I dry a lot from her trees. I use the dried fruit in baking and for oatmeal.

For a cheap meal you can't beat beans (made from dried) and rice with a garden grown vegetable on the side. I try to do this at least once a week. To get you started on this here's an easy recipe. Soak a cup and a half of great northern beans in plenty of water overnight. Two and a half hours before you want to eat, boil the beans for 5 minutes and pour off the water and set the beans aside, this will prevent gas. In about a tablespoon of butter or oil sautee one large finely chopped onion until soft and shiny. Add the beans, 2 large chopped tomatoes from your garden or a can of diced tomatoes, some other vegetable of your choice if desired, water to cover and a beef or lamb bone that you saved from some previous meal. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for two hours adding water as needed. Serve over rice. This meal takes some planning but the actual active cooking time is very little and it's delicious and comforting on a cold day.

I very rarely spend over $150/mo on food for two people and often much less. We eat very healthy on this, lots of vegetables and all whole grains. We also aren't anywhere near deprived, we eat steak and other "expensive" foods often (bought on loss leader sales). We'll just have smaller portions. A six ounce steak is satisfying and allows us to enjoy it more often than if we pigged out on 12 ounces. We'll also splurge on something like lobster, crab or filet mignon and make it at home instead of going out to dinner.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Take a visit to couponmom.com. This is a free webiste that provides all the benefits of those that charge a fee. There are links to coupons, they have 2 free e-books on how to save using sales and coupons, and they do a match-up where you can look up major grocery stores in your area and they've listed all the current sales prices and match them up with coupons. They tell you the coupon source too. I've been saving quite a bit with this. Also try iheartwags.com. This site shows you how to buy things for little or nothing at Walgreen's stores.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Ladytexan, I cut the turkey breast up about the size of deboned chicken pieces or slice it about " thick, dip it in egg batter, dredge the pieces in flour and fry in a black skillet in vegetable oil or rinse it off, lightly salt, dredge in flour and fry it. Whole turkeys from the freezer can be thawed and the breast removed for this. The remaining bones and meat can be boiled and returned to the freezer without the bones. This will free up so much freezer space for you.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Stretching groceries:

1. Have a set amount for grocery purchases to begin with and stick to that amount. The grocery money is FOR groceries - not junk food, laundry products, hair products, magazines, etc....

2. I have a well-stocked pantry and freezer, so most of my grocery purchases are based on sales, loss leaders, clearance items...coupled with coupons and rebates. I like to stack savings when possible (something on sale, purchased with a coupon, the coupon gets doubled at the cash register, and I picked up a rebate on the item - so multiple savings... That means I "shop" at home for meal planning.

3. Have a plan. Menus help you to use the foods you have, more wisely. If a head of lettuce dies of lonliness in the refrigerator, that's wasted food. Wasted food is the most expensive food you purchase. I'm with everyone else who uses the freezer and also the dehydrator. We eat dehydrated zucchini, instead of potato chips. I dehydrate as many apples as possible and we use them for snacking and cooking/baking. I usually can get all kinds of fruit free for the asking. Many people have fruit trees in their yards who are happy to have you pick from them.

4. Meat is one of the most expensive items on the menu, so use less of it (stir fry, for instance), and have one or more meatless meals each week.

5. I never purchase boxes of breakfast cereal. I make all my own cereals from whole grains for just pennies a serving. I think puffed/extruded cereal is one HUGE rip-off. I've read there is about 17-cents of grain in a box of cereal.

6. Check unit prices. I normally find 18-oz. size Kroger brand of peanut butter (on sale) the least expensive per ounce. Even over the larger sizes of the same brand. If you check the price of canned tuna per ounce, you'll quickly find the more expensive brands cost more than hamburger.

7. Grow what you can. I've grown herbs, spinach and leaf lettuce all winter long in a sunny south window. When the garden is in full swing in the summer, that's when I save the un-spent grocery money for large purchases of grain (I mill my own flour and make all our baked goods and breads); I also purchase a year's worth of a whey-based milk substitute I use (much less expensive than regular milk). I also purchase a year's worth of agave nectar (a natural, honey-like, low-glycemic sweetener), purchases of grass-fed beef, locally produced bison, pork, chickens. I do all of this on a $50/week food budget.

-Grainlady


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RE: Stretching groceries

It is much cheaper to buy whole fresh chicken and cut it up yourself. Precut chicken and frozen chicken are usually more.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Maybe...boneless skinless Tyson are on sale here for 1.68 a pound this week so I'll stock up. I'll wrap each breast individually then freeze.
I buy whole chickens too but we can only use so much chicken broth made from the carcass and we don't eat the skin.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Lexi, thanks. I'm going to try that. I like turkey breast, mostly just in sandwiches, husband would rather not. This will be great.

We usually cook turkey legs or thighs in my small roaster. Just season and roast. One leg or thigh is a serving for us. Just buying turkey legs or thighs is quite often less expensive than other meat and we do like it.

I once saw a TV chef debone a turkey leg, cut it to lie flat and put stuffing in and roll up. He tied it and roasted over an open flame. I tried it (no open flame) - it was good, but I missed the first part telling how you get those flat side bones out of a raw turkey leg. I spent an hour, using pliers to pull them out. The dish was good, but don't want to go through that again.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Ladytexan, your way of cooking turkey legs sounds delicious. What do you season the turkey with?

Bumblebeez, I use the broth in place of water to steam veggies and rice. It gives them a better flavor than plain water.


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RE: Stretching groceries

lexi, We're just plain jane people. When I roast the legs and thighs, it's just salt and pepper.

Now my son marinates or rubs the legs and thighs and smokes them - but I'm not sure exactly what he does.

For the rolled up turkey leg, it was stuffed with a cornbread dressing. I just used the usual salt, pepper, sage, onions, celery, probably whatever kind you usually use.

You know when I was typing that about the stuffed leg, I wondered if maybe the chef just left those bones intact. It is easy to get those little side bones out when the legs are cooked. I may give that stuffed leg another try and we'll just take out the bones when we eat.

My husband was pretty excited when I told him about the fried turkey breast. We will buy extra turkey or two while they are on sale the holiday season and I hope I'll have the time to cut it up, make broth, etc.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Yeah, I bought a turkey AND a turkey breast. The turkey was 89 cents a pound and the turkey breast was $1 more. I probably should've just bought two turkeys, though, because there's a wealth of broth in that carcass and even though I don't care for the dark meat, I can tolerate it in casseroles. I have a home-made "Shake'n'Bake" that I think I'll roll small pieces of turkey breast in and bake them on a cookie sheet. Sort of my own "turkey nuggets".

That stuffed turkey leg sounds good. We haven't had turkey in awhile and I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately, there are so many groups (churches, civic groups and clubs) that are doing "Thanksgiving Dinner" BEFORE Thanksgiving. I just hate that and we've been trying to stay away from them this year. By the time Thanksgiving is here, nobody is hungry for turkey any more! --Ilene


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RE: Stretching groceries

I understand too much turkey.

My son and his family are going to her sister's house for Thanksgiving day, then to ours for dinner. I was going to go for something really simple = but they want turkey. Maybe sister is having something else.

You know speaking of stretching dollars - celery has been being from $2 to $3 a bunch around here. They were on sale for Thanksgiving for .69. I bought three. I'm going to diced it up and freeze on a cookie sheet, then put in a big bag. That way I can take out a handful at a time just for seasoning. I freeze the leaves as well and put them in another little bag for soups.

Last Easter we were in another town and all the stores were putting on trimmed briskets for .69 a pound. We bought several and trimmed them a little more - and ground them up for ground meat. We did just leave a few pieces of maybe 1 lb chunks. I just sliced one of those up last week and tenderized it and it was wonderful chicken fried. The ground meat tastes so much better than meat that is bought already ground.


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RE: Stretching groceries

That's a great idea about grinding the brisket for hamburger! The last brisket I bought I think I got for .89 a pound. It simmered in my big electric roaster all night. The next morning I strained off some good beef broth and picked off as much meat as I could to pack in containers in the freezer for later. Then I put the remaining fat and meat that was encapsulated in fat back in the roaster with a little more water and simmered that all day. Ended up with a little weaker broth that was still better than any canned broth you can buy, which I blended into the first batch of broth, and was able to get more meat out of the fat. BTW, the fat that floated to the top of the broth was saved and I used that a little at a time in recipes that called for shortening. Shortening is now $3.50 for a 3# can at the grocery store. By the time I was all done I had a good supply of roast beef and beef broth, and maybe a handful of fat that didn't boil down. The dog enjoyed that mixed in with his kibble.

If I'd thought of grinding it raw, it would've saved all that cooking time. Back before 95% lean ground beef started being marketed, Weight Watchers recommended cooking ground beef in water to remove the extra fat, and that could be an option for ground brisket if someone didn't think enough fat cooked out by the normal frying process. The fat, being also ground, would cook out much quicker than by my simmering process.

I found celery last week for .69, as well, and bought a couple. I do often chop and freeze celery and the leaves. I noticed, though, that the bunches of .69 celery offered in my area seemed quite a bit smaller, which is why I didn't stock up. Most people, if they buy a big package, end up letting most of it turn brown in the crisper. So I guess the thinking was to turn out a smaller amount to waste -- NOT!!! It does so irritate me that the stores are selling things in smaller packages as if we won't notice. How dumb do they think we are, for heaven's sake? I bought potatoes, 8# to the bag instead of 10#. Same bag. Just less in it. It still worked out to a decent price (considering all) when I worked out the unit price. But ya gotta watch them all the time. --Ilene


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RE: Stretching groceries

Yes, the celery was much smaller bunches. They do that on a lot of things - like coffee. Although we use chicory coffee and it's still a full pound, but we half it with decaf and it is now 12 oz.


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RE: Stretching groceries

-Extra celery? Dehydrate it. I dehydrate lots of vegetables and fruits. This helps prevent wasted produce.

-Bargain potatoes? I use a make-ahead recipe and freeze them in dollops. How to: 5# potatoes (peeled or not - wash well if you don't peel them). Cook as usual. Mash, adding 6 oz. cream cheese, 1 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. butter. Quick freeze in serving-size dollops using an ice cream scoop (or user-friendly containers). When frozen vacuum seal in a FoodSaver bag.

-Wal-Mart had sweet potatoes 33-cents/pound, so I bought LOTS. I cook them (use any method you like), then mash and dry it until it's crispy on a fruit roll-up sheet in the dehydrator. Now when I need some sweet potatoes for sweet potato biscuits, or one or two servings for supper, it's quick to make.

How to:
2 pounds sweet potatoes = 4 single servings

- Cook, drain & mash sweet potatoes. (Use any cooking method you'd like - steamed, boiled, baked...)

- Flavor the mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup, if you'd like, just do not add any butter or other fat.

- Spread on lined trays (use fruit leather sheets, or line the trays with plastic wrap). Place 1/2 c. mashed sweet potatoes on 1/2 the sheet (leave a bit of space), and 1/2 cup on the other half.

- Dry at 135F.

- When dry, toss 1/2 c. amount into the blender and mix into a powder. Store in small reclosable plastic bags (aka "snack" bags). This is equal to one serving.

- To rehydrate: Slowly add hot water until you reach the desired consistency. Add some butter, if desired. Marshmallows optional...

-Grainlady


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RE: Stretching groceries

Grainlady, I have no experience with a food dehydrator, but I am interested in purchasing one. Are you able to offer a recommendation on a brand or advice about what to avoid? I would love your recipe for sweet potato biscuits. Thanks.


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RE: Stretching groceries

lexi7 - Here's information for you about choosing dehydrators and how to use them (see link below). I have a Nesco American Harvest that I've used for lots of years. You can get them nearly anywhere (Wal-Mart) and they are a reasonable price. I have extra trays and extra fruit roll-up sheets, as well as the Clean-A-Screen for sticky foods. I have the Jerky Works for making jerky with ground bison and extra-lean ground beef.

Just make sure you have a thermostate for temperature control on whatever dehydrator you use, because not all foods dry at the same temperature.

Some foods need pre-treatment before dehydration. Cranberries, for instance, have to be dipped in boiling water until they 'pop' before you can dehydrate them.

I'd also suggest the book, "Making & Using Dried Foods" by Phyllis Hobson. Not only how-to, but recipe for using dried food. If you have a cutting mandoline for slicing food, it helps to keep the thickness consistant for even drying.

There are new standards for dehydrated foods to help prevent bacteria growth which includes giving fruit/veg. a "bath" in an acid mixture (lemon juice/water, or citric acid/water, ascorbic acid/water) before dehydrating. That's covered at the link below.
---------------

I make sweet potato biscuits with my homemade wholegrain Bisquick-like mix (freshly-milled spelt and wheat flour, flaxmeal, cornmeal, oatmeal, coconut oil, leavening... plus some sweet potatoes. Kinda' like this recipe:

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS

1 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 1/2 c. biscuit mix
2 tbsp. sugar (I use 1 T. agave nectar)

Mix sweet potatoes, biscuit mix and sugar well, roll out and cut out biscuits and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Can substitute canned sweet potatoes.

-Grainlady

Here is a link that might be useful: National Center for Home Food Preservation


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RE: Stretching groceries

Grainlady thanks :)


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RE: Stretching groceries

Good tips.
DH likes white meat turkey sandwiches; I prefer dark meat. I bought a small whole frozen turkey and had it sliced in half. Allowed 1/2 to thaw and cook; put other still frozen half in freezer.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Rather than start a new thread, I thought I would just post to this one since the topic fits. We wanted beef stew on this cold winter day - wish I could have gotten the meat from the freezer, but I had to go shopping. Beef stew meat was 40 cents a pound higher than roast, so I got a small roast, cut it up and froze half of it for next time.

I hope you are all nice and warm on this cold first day of winter.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Lexi, I do that as well. I sometimes buy a roast that is too large and cut off a few pieces for tenderizing and chicken fry, then cut some up for stew meat, and have a roast as well.

Boy, stew sounds good, I've been wanting some.

I do have a pot of pinto beans soaking, though, and we're having them tomorrow.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Same thing holds true of other things -- round steak on sale makes great ground round. Pork loin makes good pork "chops" and good chunk pork for things like sweet & sour pork. In some stores, the people behind the meat counter will cut it or grind it for you.


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RE: Stretching groceries

I have bought peppers and onions frozen. They weren't bad in mixtures. However, I bought peppers, sliced in strips, lay on a pan and froze. When frozen, I placed in freezer bags. The worked fine in the following recipe:
Garlic, peppers and onions sauteed in a bit of oil and butter, add sliced beef smoked sausage and heat. Add black pepper and a little Italian seasoning and broth or water to keep from drying out, simmer. Stir in cooked wide noodles with some of the cooking water if desired. Add shredded cheese and serve.
The peppers were just tender and provided a good flavor.

I like this recipe substituting cooked and peeled frozen shrimp. Allow to defrost in skillet while cooking.

I also buy the pork loins to make into chops. I haven't ever seen the brisket priced so low, but I am watching!


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RE: Stretching groceries

Yum, Calirose!

I grow my bell peppers and onions. The secret to good frozen onions and peppers is to saute them before you freeze them. But I will freeze them raw, too, if I'm pressed for time. I use frozen peppers and onions in lots of things. I make my own pizza and what is pizza without peppers and onions?? Pepper steak, meat loaf and sweet and sour pork are three of my family's favorites, in which I use peppers and onions liberally. If I don't have homegrown, I will stock up on peppers and onions when they go on sale. They can be quite expensive certain times of the year.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Once when my hubby was between jobs I had to really stretch the grocery money also. Bean, potato and pea dishes saved the day and everybody loved them.

Ladytexan, I have a pot of pinto beans soaking too! I love pinto beans. Even my hubby who was born in Canada and raised in Vermont and never even heard of a pinto bean till he came to Texas has learned to love them. With corn bread or corn chips they are a complete protein and make a very economical meal as well.

Now, may I touch on a delicate subject and pass along to ya'll how I learned to cook toot-less beans?

The first thing is to try to buy fresh beans -- meaning buy them in early fall when they are freshly dried. Here in Texas the grocery stores have pinto beans in big barrels in the produce section labeled "Colorado Beans." They are the best. But if you can't find those just buy them in early fall in the bags. They will be lighter colored. Pinto beans turn darker with age and when old don't cook up as white and 'fluffy' and are more 'tooty.' Put a good supply of them in the freezer. Yes, I take up precious freezer space with dried beans to keep them fresh, if that term can be applied to a dried bean.

Before cooking soak them overnight in plenty of water to which you've added a couple of tablespoons of soda. Next day pour the water off (I rinse them in a colander) and bring the beans to a boil. Let them cool and pour that water off and rinse well. This last step is crucial if you want a tootless bean. Then boil again until they are soft. It doesn't take long with fresh beans and the soaking and preboiling steps.

Near the end of the boiling period I add several large cloves of garlic and mash them up on the side of the pot when they are soft. The pintos are seasoned with camino, black pepper and salt to taste, and a few leaves of fresh oregano from the garden.

Our favorite way to eat them is with chopped onions and fresh chopped tomatoes, corn chips and grated cheese, plus a little hot sauce if that suits your taste. In my opinion it is a meal fit for a king!

This method would no doubt work with other beans and peas. If you don't have a taste for pinto beans you can cook lima beans or other beans this way. I do the same for boiling split peas for soup.


Happy (toot-less) bean day from Texas!


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RE: Stretching groceries

roselee, Now that's some great information.

My beans were good - just some bacon pieces and salt. We have cornbread with our beans.

Tonight we had ground meat tacos and I 'mashed' a few of the beans, dribbled in some jalapeno juice to go with them.

You know when I was growing up, we ate lots of beans and 'taters. During one particular lean time, we joked that we had beans and potatoes one day and potatoes and beans the next. My Mom always made cornbread with the beans. I didn't know until I was grown that it actually made a complete protein.

Not often, but sometimes I really doctor up my beans and put some cajun sausage, tomato sauce, onions, bell peppers, garlic, celery, a little red pepper, pinch of chili powder - whatever. It is really good. I think a lot of people eat this with rice, but we just like cornbread.

I absolutely did not know darker beans were older. Goodness, how did I live so long and eat so many beans without knowing that? I will pay attention next time.

I, too, keep my beans in the freezer. Space allowing, I keep extra rice, flour, etc., as well. When we had our 'farm' and had our own cornmeal ground, I kept my cornmeal in the freezer as well.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Now for TRUE money savings... I "cook" beans (as well as rice, grain, or oatmeal) in a Thermos using boiling water. Great for small amounts of beans needed for taco salads or black bean dishes. A good way to keep the heat out of the kitchen in the summer.

Just GOOGLE - cooking in a thermos - and you'll find lots of information.

-Grainlady


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RE: Stretching groceries

We eat lots of pasta and beans too. One chicken breast serves 4 when diced and served with fettucine and alfredo sauce. Broccoli mixed in or some green beans on the side.

I try to use everything. Most of the time, my lunches are a mish mash of left overs. Doesn't matter one iota. Especially if I'm hungry :)


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RE: Stretching groceries

roselee....i will have to try your tootless recipe!!! i have 3 boys and hub and we love great cajun red beans and rice..... but....now, maybe we'll love them even more!!!


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RE: Stretching groceries

Busybee, I like red beans and rice too! It's another complete protein combo with which to stretch the food dollar, being a bean plus a grain.

Although I've always loved beans I used to try and wait till we went to our cabin at the gulf coast to serve them. The house was up on stilts and near the beach so had a good breeze always blowing through the place ... well, you get the picture. LOL! Now, happily, I can serve them anytime.

Having fresh beans makes a big difference too, so try to buy them where they have a good turn over in the store and they are not selling last years beans. Once I bought some white navy beans, not the most popular beans in Texas I guess, and even though I soaked them before cooking they NEVER did get soft and edible.

One more interesting bit of info -- if you eat beans a lot, like almost everyday -- you will develop the intestinal flora to digest them well, no matter how they are cooked. I found that out that time when hubby was between jobs and we ate them a lot.

Another favorite bean I used to buy were speckled lima beans, but I never see them for sale anymore. Does anybody from other parts of the country see them? Maybe they were just not good sellers in Texas. Everything is rated by the numbers now and some of my favorite foods seemed to have disappeared from the shelves.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Maybe this is silly question, but ... soak the beans overnight with some soda - what kind of soda? Like sparkly liquid soda? Baking soda?

DH makes THE BEST (IMHO of course) beans n rice and we make a pot a couple times a month for lunches during the week. We use great northern beans, onion ... I'm not sure what else LOL some spicy stuff, maybe chipotle pepper? Japanese rice, and some quartered turkey or kielbasa sausage that we only buy when it's on sale and throw in the freezer. This is one of my favorite dishes! I wonder if I could take some of those dried great northern beans and grow them... We've been using canned but need to switch to less expensive dried (which are sitting in the pantry).


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RE: Stretching groceries

Good question blackcats. It's baking soda that's put in the soaking water.

I've never met a bean I didn't like, and your way of fixing them sounds wonderful :-) Also you can test your beans right now to know if they'll grow by soaking them between some wet paper towels and see if they sprout.

Shwetagarg, are you getting any ideas for stretching the grocery dollar from all of this?

By the way, pinto beans make some of the best green bean eating ever -- except they have strings. I'm afraid I've gotten spoiled by stringless green beans, but I might give them a try this year just to see if they taste as good as I remember them.

Happy bean growing.


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RE: Stretching groceries

This information is found at the link below....

If you consistently have problems cooking beans to the desired tenderness within the specified cooking times, it is possible you have hard water. Another sign of hard water is the appearance of a thick white or gray residue on the inside of your teakettle every time you boil water. This is caused by the presence of excessive amounts of certain minerals. High concentrations of these minerals interfere with chemical and physical changes that are supposed to occur in beans during soaking and cooking.

Some cooks suggest adding a small amount of baking soda to the cooking water to soften it. We dont recommend this because baking soda may give the beans a soapy flavor and its ability to improve the bean cooking process has not been proved. Amounts of baking soda over 1/8 teaspoon per cup of beans may destroy the thiamine (Vitamin B1) in beans. Thiamine is a valuable nutrient and one reason why beans have a reputation for being nutritious. If you have hard water and are in doubt as to whether or not to use baking soda, buy purified bottled drinking water not distilled water for soaking and cooking beans.

-Grainlady

Here is a link that might be useful: Central Bean Co., Inc.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Roselee, I remember speckled butter beans, too, and come to think of it, I haven't seen them in stores here in Oklahoma for years. Just the standard white lima, baby lima, pinto, great northern, black turtle and split pea, usually. I grow heirloom tomatoes and have recently started selecting a few heirloom bean seeds as well, and there are several kinds of 'speckled lima beans' in lists of heirloom seed. I don't even remember now what the ones my mom used to buy looked like. Do you? Were they red and white? I'm thinking they were brown and white, or gray and white, and about medium sized, but I'm not sure.

Blackcats, you certainly can use the beans you buy for food to plant. Every year that they age, and the conditions under which they are stored, does affect their viability, but you should be able to get some to grow. They need to be planted in warm soil. I know some people who buy bean mixes at health food stores and plant them to get several unusual kinds. Of course you won't always know if some of them will be pole or bush beans.

It is true that if you eat beans often, you are less affected by them in terms of how much "gas" they produce. I find that chewing them well also helps.


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RE: Stretching groceries

Maybe this is silly question, but ... soak the beans overnight with some soda - what kind of soda? Like sparkly liquid soda? Baking soda?

DH makes THE BEST (IMHO of course) beans n rice and we make a pot a couple times a month for lunches during the week. We use great northern beans, onion ... I'm not sure what else LOL some spicy stuff, maybe chipotle pepper? Japanese rice, and some quartered turkey or kielbasa sausage that we only buy when it's on sale and throw in the freezer. This is one of my favorite dishes! I wonder if I could take some of those dried great northern beans and grow them... We've been using canned but need to switch to less expensive dried (which are sitting in the pantry).


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RE: Stretching groceries - oops

Not sure how I double posted hours apart! But thanks for the info :)


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