This post was inspired by BargainBabe.com’s third annual Frugal Festival which was held in Los Angeles, CA. The festival’s theme was “Food” and also provided support to the L.A. Regional Food Bank.
In general do-it-yourself is always the more economical way to go. Sometimes, like in the case of plumbing, electrical work, or car mechanical tasks, attempting DIY may end up costing you big in trouble and bucks unless you’re a seasoned veteran. But once you learn a few simple rules about cleanliness, preparing your own food will rarely – if ever – get you into any real trouble (Just don’t forget to turn off the stove). It’s an undisputed fact that even if you do not use coupons, and even if you pay no attention to sales and markdowns, preparing your own meals is healthier and will end up being a real money-saver.
Our Food, Cooking, Drink, Recipe Channel and Coupons & Grocery Channel are loaded with amazing tips on how to get the most gourmet bang for your supermarket, couponing, dining-out, and cooking dollar, but in this post, we’re focusing on some unique “frugal” food preservation strategies.
I consider myself a “nothing cook.” Just as an artist may need to see the paint colors or the collage pieces before getting inspired to put something on the blank canvas, I draw inspiration from what I see in the fridge and pantry to create dishes. Essentially, I take what is there and make something from nothing. When my children were toddlers, a friend mentioned to me that she saves every leftover, no matter how small. She said, “To them (the toddlers) this 1/8 cup of rice and peas is a whole meal.” Ever since then, I save just about everything, no matter how small, even now with the kids long gone from my kitchen. There are some occasional times when I don’t end up using the leftovers, but most of the time, those little leftovers serve as inspiration to create a whole meal. A tiny bit of fresh basil leaves get slivered into an omelet. A few pieces of bell pepper edges, celery ends, and a raddish or two becomes a slaw. A little piece of ginger gets sliced and put in the freezer for a stir-fry at another time. Tired cilantro stems get blended up and frozen in an ice-cube tray for future sauces. And, one of my all time favorites: air dried grape tomatoes, all shriveled up with concentrated sweet flavor, perfect to slice up and top off some cream cheese or goat cheese on crackers… you get the idea.
For me, it’s really more about creativity and respect for nature and it’s gifts that drives my focus on a “waste not” attitude in the kitchen… but no matter what the inspiration, nature or money-saving, the pay-off is: DIY in the kitchen is a far more budget-friendly and healthy way to go.
Here in these videos are some amazing tips on food preservation that are easy to do, and with summer and fall’s bounty soon to surface, it’s a perfect time to hone up on ways to preserve now, so you can take advantage of in-season lower prices and produce’s peak freshness, to enjoy abundant inspiration all year long.
Food In a Frugal Lifestyle – Writer W. Hodding Carter has written a series on frugality for Gourmet Magazine which stemmed from his facing the truth about his family’s living beyond their means. See how the family tackles the food budget.
Making Fruit Leathers – Stop wasting food; preserve the height-of-the-season bounty for later by making fruit leather for pennies compared to what the store-bought costs! Step-by-step guide to making fruit leather from the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service’s Julie Cascio, gives details.
Drying Vegetables – Drying your own Vegetables is a great way to stretch your grocery dollar & enjoy fresh seasonal flavor all year. Julie Cascio from the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service, shows step-by-step instructions.
How to Dry Herbs - Easy DIY to enjoy seasonal prices and preserve the flavors of summer by drying fresh herbs & spices to use through the rest of the year. Author & host of PBS’ “Garden to Table,” P. Allen Smith shows how.
Freeze Fruit, Save Money – Buy fruit when it’s on sale, freeze & enjoy all year! You can use the technique shown in this video for all types of fruit – we’ve even done it with grapes! Try it with veggies, too! Dani Spies from CleanandDelicious.com shows how simple it is.
How to Freeze Tomatoes - Save money or stretch your own garden crop while you enjoy garden-fresh tomatoes all year long by freezing them! Simple to do.
Ready to Use Frozen Pepper Patties – Freezing is a way to take advantage of in-season prices for fresh produce, but freezing partially prepared recipe ingredients in small ready-to-use batches not only is good to keep your savings going all year long, but shortens your food prep time, too! This example from rebuild-from-depression.com is a bright addition to any freezer pantry.
Stretch Your Groceries, Stop Tossing Tomatoes - Donna Miller from Miller’s Grain House shows how saving a little here and there will add up to a lot on your table and in your piggy bank! This simple kitchen tip is a perfect example of kitchen frugal!
More Food Money Saving Tips in our Posts:
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