While the word “frugal” evokes thoughts of cheapness in many minds, really this couldn’t be further from the truth. Okay, my husband occasionally borders on cheap, but really, frugality is a way of life that involves a minimalist attitude, a reduction in waste, and of course, finding good deals. Really, the folks of Wikipedia get the definition best, so I won’t try to elaborate further myself.
That being said, I am almost angry at myself when it comes time for that weekly fridge evacuation and I discover some beautiful food items that I have forgetfully allowed to rot. Perhaps some perfectly good leftovers, or those beautiful berries I just had to purchase. Whatever it is, I always vow, never again… but unfortunately, never seems to come again.
I have however, started a new habit that seems to be helping. After a good shopping trip, I plan an extra hour for food prep. Really, it saves me time in the long run, and not a scrap went to waste this last week! Essentially, nothing goes into the fridge without packing up any extras that may not get eaten within the next couple of days:
- Celery and carrots are cut and put into a cool bath of water (I remembered my dad doing this when I was younger, it works great for keeping that celery crisp!)
- Excess fruit is chopped and frozen for smoothies. This works for everything from berries to bananas to peaches. I have discovered that nectarines are often a bit difficult to pull off the pit, so we reserve those mostly for snacking. It helps to flash freeze the fruit in bite-sized pieces on cookie sheets, and then place them in baggies for longer-term freezer storage to prevent the bits from solidly freezing together.
- Chicken is portioned into small baggies and frozen for meal-sized servings. Keep an eye out for natural chicken that is specifically labelled as antibiotic and hormone free (all chicken is hormone free, so if it doesn’t note antibiotic free, then it is a marketing ploy), and vegetarian fed. This will save you quite a bit of money over organic chicken, while still gaining the benefits. We buy some at Trader Joe’s.
- Bread and tortillas are pre-emptively put into the fridge (rather than risking possession by the mold gods), since both will be heated or toasted anyways.
- I have even started chopping up basil, stirring in some olive oil, and freezing it in individual baggies (flattened) for some quick sauce action. Some people use the ice cube tray route for freezing herbs, but I haven’t trialed it yet.