Cooking

Sticking Points

Two points in the day can give a working person trouble: getting dressed for work, and knowing what in the world is for supper when you get home. In both cases, it’s not the action, it’s the thinking about it and planning that can cause difficulty.

When I was especially busy at work I used to hang a week’s worth of outfits in the closet complete with undergarments and accessories. Any morning, all I had to do was grab one and put it on. The underpinning of this system is that I had to do laundry or at least assemble outfits every weekend. That was easy enough and saved me indecision and delay on a work morning. 

The what’s for supper problem is similar. On the weekend, or during a boring meeting, or if evening TV isn’t holding your attention, sketch out a week’s worth of main meals and write down what you need to make them. Saturday, or whenever works for you, buy all that. Having written down what to make and bought the ingredients, all you have to do when you get home is review the list of meals and make one. 

I used to buy Chicken Tonight dinner sauces and pour them over a baking dish of chicken pieces and frozen vegetables, with maybe instant rice or cubed potatoes. Forty-five minutes in the oven while I changed clothes or helped with homework or whatever, and supper was ready. 

 

 

 

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Uses for Butter Wrappers

For those who like extreme frugal measures, consider saving the wrappers from sticks of butter or margarine. They will keep in the fridge or freezer for a long time.

You can use them as needed to grease a baking pan, put a little butter on top of rolls or biscuits, grease a knife for smoother cutting of sticky things like brownies, take a dab to moisturize dry cuticles, or use the wrappers to separate hamburger patties in the freezer. 

 

Systolic Blood Pressure

All my life, the top and bottom numbers of my blood pressure have related to each other in a normal way: 117/73, 120/80, 125/82, like that.

Then I got pancreatitis and stopped cooking with garlic. I never ate mass amounts, but normal amounts regularly. When I had to stop eating it, I developed Isolated Systolic Hypertension: the top number when high but the bottom number didn’t. Turns out garlic contains a compound that improves the elasticity of blood vessels, thus contributing to normal systolic blood pressure.

Once I figured this out and resumed eating modest amounts of garlic, the top number came down again. My pancreas doesn’t much like it, but I feel it’s worth it to keep my pressure normal.

 

 

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Eggs on Sale After Easter

Now’s the time to help the stores clear their excess holiday eggs at sale prices.

Omelets for dinner, French toast for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch.

Eggs freeze well, and stay good in the freezer for up to a year. crack them out of the shell, and either freeze them individually in ice cube trays first, or mingle them in containers, depending what future use you intend.

 

Planned-overs

Many baby-boomers are now presiding over empty nests. What if you haven’t yet gotten the hang of cooking for one or two instead of a crowd?

Go ahead and buy that roast. Have it for dinner with the usual side dishes the first night.

Cut slices for sandwiches, and freeze them in one- or two-day quantities, and you’re ready to make lunches easily.

Chop some of it, add vegetables and gravy, and you’ve got stew.

Take the leftover stew and bake it in a pie shell for pot pie.

A little change, a little addition, and each new meal isn’t just plain leftovers, it’s a new dish.

 

 

Save on Sprouts

You can make sprouts at home for a fraction of what they cost at the store. You need the seeds of whatever you want to sprout, a glass jar, cheesecloth, and water. Put a teaspoon of seeds in a small glass jar. Stretch cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band. Add water and soak the seeds for twelve hours. Pour off the water and set the jar on a sunny windowsill. Rinse and drain every day. When you have a jar full of sprouts, store in the refrigerator.

Directions for sprouting are widely offered on the Internet, including at http://www.ehow.com. Alfalfa sprouts are an old standby. I’ve also seen broccoli, onion, and kale sprouts.

 

For more ways to save, see my book Frugal Living for the 21st Century

Deep Freeze is Different than Freezer

I’ve seen recommendations for how long various foods will stay good in the freezer. Only now have I realized that it makes a difference what kind of freezer it is. Any frozen food will stay good longer in a deep freezer than in a frost-free freezer compartment in a refrigerator.

In either type of freezer, it’s important to wrap the food well, removing as much air as possible from the package.

Here’s a handy chart showing how long various foods will stay good. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html. Notice the temperature is zero degrees or colder. It’s not that cold in my freezer compartment, so I usually store things there for days or weeks rather than months. The main benefit is being able to cook a large batch of a dish and eat it once a week for several weeks. Sometimes these frozen meals lose a bit of flavor. That’s when I add something when I thaw them: mustard, barbeque sauce, poultry seasoning, gravy, salsa, garlic powder, whatever suits the dish.