Monday, August 18, 2008

5 Ways to Stretch What's In Your Fridge A Little Further

*MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS: tastes great, price has skyrocketed in recent months. Strreeettcch whole milk by adding 3-4 cups of water. You won't notice in taste, and calories plus fat content will drop at the same time. I recently asked Daughter #1 whether she'd noticed any difference in the three-plus years I've been doing this. She said, "You've been stretching the milk??"

Sour cream and cheese can still be used, even after they've started to grow a little green. As my dad takes great delight in pointing out, they're technically made by spoiling milk in the first place! Just trim off or scoop out the nasty stuff and use them. Sour cream is wonderful stirred into soup, rice or mashed potatoes just before serving. (Do it early on, and the cream tends to curdle.)

And the cheese? One great way to use it is
Refrigerator Mac & Cheese:
While you're boiling a half-pound of macaroni, melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine in a second pan. Add a few tablespoons of flour...then 1/2 cup - 1 cup of milk. (Off-taste milk works for this, too.)
Stir milk into the butter/flour mixture, then add grated or chunked cheese. (I tend to clean out whatever bits and pieces I've got leftover in the meat bin. One recent version included Cheddar, Monterey Jack, a square of cream cheese and a slice or two of an ancient Gouda.) Also add a teaspoon of dry or liquid mustard, a couple shots of hot sauce...and grind in some salt and pepper.
Stir the sauce until the cheese is melted. The macaroni should be done...drain it and mix the two together. You're done! Serves 4.

My girlies love this so much that they ask for it on their birthdays.

*VEGGIES: great for salads...and SOUP. Don't waste a scrap. No matter what. If you're making a sauce, try mincing those last few green beans or that shred of celery. Toss it in -- the sauce will be the better for it. A casserole of something else utilizes these bits nicely...or chop and add them to rice.

Or keep a covered bowl in the frig for those bits and pieces. Chop them wholesale, then add chicken broth and noodles for a wonderful soup.

This isn't just for basics like carrots, celery, broccoli...salad greens work for this, too!

*MEAT: too expensive to waste. See above. Don't waste a scrap. Slip in the bits and pieces into your other dishes...or save them for soup. A handful of meat in a sauce, poured over spaghetti, rice and noodles, qualifies as a Main Entree.

*JAMS, PRESERVES & JUICES: Smoothies make maximum use of these! Be sure to rinse out the bottles and jars with a little water, to get maximum use. (This is especially true for jam.) For a great smoothie, blenderize 5-7 ice cubes, the rinsed-out contents of a jam jar or juice bottle, 1 cup fruit, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1- 1 1/2 cups milk. (A spoonful or two of yogurt in the mixture tastes great, too.)

*PICKLES: Pickles gone? Save the juice! Slice 2-3 cucumbers thinly and drop into the pickle jar, then let them marinate in the fridge for 2-3 days. Voila -- you've got more pickles! (Sliced onion rings and mushrooms work for this, too.)


1 comment:

LouAnne said...

Cindy: keeping all those bits for soup makes me remember how I used to keep little dibs and dabs of stuff in a fairly large freezer container all during the week when the kids were younger. Sunday usually gave me something really good to flesh out my Monday Soup which was a regular staple for us back then. If it didn't look too pretty or I thought the kids would balk at it, I just threw it all in the blender because they LOVED creamed soup!

Congratulations, Ana and Tyler!

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