There are always ways to save more in your household. Perhaps there are things you haven't thought of yet that can reduce
your electricity usage, or water bills, or even what you spend on food every month. Lots of people are convinced they are spending too much but don't know how to fix it. You may think that you've pared down your spending to as little as you can in the kitchen, but are you sure? Here are some awesome ideas that I've found while living my life and through extensive research while I was in a financial crunch. Some of them are simple little things, while others are different ways to cook or store food. I can be a closet tree hugger at times, so expect a little bit of the environmentalist perspective (just a little). This installment deals specifically with leftover food and ways to cut down on kitchen waste. I want to help you cut down on the amount of trash you create and learn how to maximize your resources. Later on I will discuss types of food to buy that gives you the maximum value for your money and then my third entry will be devices in the kitchen and preservation methods to help your meal planning and preserving become the best possible. So, with a little background info out of the way, let's delve into what I want to talk about right now, which is dealing with kitchen trash.
What are you going to do with your cooking trash? How should you get rid of all those extra unused food scraps and stuff? I have three ideas that will help you save the environment AND help create a better source of health and nutrition!
Choice 1: Throw it in the compost pile!
Composting is a fantastic way to use up old scraps, coffee grounds, used/extra paper and wood shavings, and tons of other organic debris. If you have a ton of extra vegetable scraps, or whole vegetables that have sprouted a gallon of mold and gotten all mushy, a compost pile is perfect for you. There are also services that will provide free compost when you contribute a set amount of vegetable matter. This option does not exist everywhere, but if managing your footprint is important to you, it's a good idea to check it out. If you do it right, it won't smell and will provide tons of nutritional value to your garden. It also lets you take care of a large volume of organic matter without taking up tons of extra space. How to compost is a fantastic resource to help you create this nutrient rich stuff into a garden supplement that will allow you to grow food high in nutrition.
Choice 2: Make yummy chicken or vegetable stock!
Did you just make dinner and find you had a ton of extra carrot peels, ends, onion skins, and chicken bones? I have a wonderful idea for you: turn it in to nutrition dense stock! This is my favorite way to reuse my vegetable scraps! I love collecting and saving my carrot, onion, potato, and other peelings, ends, and extra pieces into a bag and then using it to add taste and nutrition to my chicken/beef/seafood stocks. I add directly into a crockpot with any chicken carcasses, extra steak bones, and cook for at least twelve hours. This helps with time management since I don't have to babysit the stock and lose time I could be doing other things. I like to buy whole chickens since they seem to cost less and give me more value for the money. I can roast the whole chicken in the oven or crock pot and use the chicken meat for soups, salads, sandwiches, and the leftover carcass(bones, cartilage, etc.) for stocks to provide extra collagen. Chicken bones contain collagen and tons of other nutrients. This collagen is used by our skin, organs, and bones as part of what they need to function correctly. When you cook, especially with fresh vegetables, there are a lot of scraps, peels, skins, and pieces that you don't use. There are a lot of nutritional benefits to all these things, so in order to increase the nutritional content of your chicken (or beef) bone broth, save these as well as the chicken bones and carcasses. Just give those veggie scraps a quick rinse to remove any soil or dirt, throw them in a Ziploc bag with your bones, and stick in the freezer until you have enough to fill a pot with the contents. When you're ready to make broth, just allow the bags to defrost and place in the pot with enough water to cover the stuff. You can use either a regular pot or crock pot. There are many ways to add flavor, such as using a dried chile pepper (something I learned from my years living in New Mexico), roasting the bones, adding different types of veggie scraps, and adding seafood shells (such as shrimp) to your broth. Roasting is pretty simple, all you do is to spread the scraps and bones on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven. I roast them on high broil for a few minutes until the bones start turning brown.
Choice 3: Do you keep your own livestock? Give em to the animals!
Conclusion: You can save a lot of money by using your resources wisely.
These are by no means the only three choices you have to save/reuse your kitchen waste, but I didn't want to overwhelm with too much information. Long posts can bother and frustrate me, so I try to keep them simple and short if I can. Stay tuned for part two of this series...how to make better choices in your grocery shopping adventures. We can get overwhelmed pretty easily when faced by the myriads of available items at the grocery store and wonder if what we are buying is the best choice for our budget and our family. I've been working on a list of the best foods at the cheapest prices that provide the nutrition we need, but don't deplete the bank account and leave us less money for everything else.