'Green' is in! You hear about recycling and saving Mother Earth every day. Today's generation probably think they invented recycling and green living. Back in the day, everyone grew 'organic' foods; we just didn't know it.
Given today's economic woes, everyone is looking for a way to save money on grocery bills. It seems to me that we just need to take a small step back in time to the kitchen of our childhood. We can save a great deal of money simply by not wasting it. Even before the Great Depression, country cooks knew how to use every bit of food that came across their kitchen table. The next time you are bagging up your kitchen garbage, think about how much you are wasting. In a World War I era cookbook, homemakers were told the only items that should find their way into a garbage pail were:
Egg shells - after being used to clear coffee
Potato skins - after having been cooked on the potato
Banana skins - if there are no tan shoes to be cleaned
Bones - after having been boiled in a soup kettle
Coffee grounds - if there is no garden where they can be used for fertilizer
Tea leaves - if they are not needed for brightening rugs when swept
Asparagus ends - after being cooked for soup
Decayed leaves and dirty ends of roots of green leafy vegetables
That is not a very long list, but it probably is still relevant today if you are recycling. Take out the food cans, boxes, plastic bottles, and you probably don't have that much true 'garbage'. But, how much of that food is wasted? Buying in bulk or because something is on sale is not going to save you money if it ends up in the garbage. Here are some modern ways to save those leftovers:
Milk & Juice nearing expiration - Freeze this in ice cube trays & then transfer to a freezer bag to save for use in a recipe, drinks or smoothies.
Chicken broth - I love to boil chicken breasts to use in salads and casseroles. I always save the leftover broth and freeze it. It makes a great start for your next pot of soup.
Beef drippings - The next time you make a roast, freeze some of the drippings for a future stew.
Baked Chicken - Save those bones! After you've removed all the chicken you want, boil the remaining whole chicken in a stock pot. Strain the bones and you have chicken stock to freeze for your next recipe.
Mashed potatoes - Freeze leftover mashed potatoes in muffin tins and then place in a freezer bag. When ready to use, just defrost, add a little milk and re-heat.
Bread - You can freeze it before it goes stale and use a slice or two as needed. Once it is stale, you can still use it for french toast, meatloaf, or bread crumbs. Leftover biscuits and muffins can be frozen and used for a quick breakfast in the weeks to come.
Coffee - Don't throw what's left in the pot down the drain! Turn off the warmer so it doesn't get too strong after brewing. Refrigerate the leftovers for an iced coffee later on or re-heat it the next day.
It seems we always end up with a bite or two of something leftover that ends up going down the garbage disposal. Save those beans, vegetables, rice, meat and chicken scraps for a soup or casserole. Even if you don't make soup from scratch, it's a quick way to dress up canned soup so it seems homemade.
The art of utilizing left-overs is an important factor in the prevention of waste. The thrifty have always known it. The careless have always ignored it. Which are you?