Thoughtful Spending: What to do with unused food.

I couldn't think of a good title for this post! What I was trying to say in just a few words was this: what do you do with that little bit of tomato sauce left over from a recipe or the lemons that you used the zest for but didn't use the juice for?

Just like I had a hard time finding a good title for this post, I couldn't find a good picture. Here's a great substitution, though: my daughter cheering me on to save money in the kitchen. Okay, so actually, I wanted to show her dad the outfit she had chosen for the day, but it looks like she's cheering me on, right?

So here are my ideas to save you waste (and, therefore, money) in the kitchen:

1. Lemons: When you use the zest but not the juice, cut the lemons into wedges. Put them in a freezer worthy plastic bag and store them in the freezer until you need them. Pull out the wedges when you need a little bit of lemon juice. Throw the wedges in the microwave to warm them slightly and then juice. Alternately, juice the lemons first and then freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Pop them out after they're frozen and store them in a labeled freezer bag.

2. Tomato Sauce: I have a few recipes that need part of a can of tomato sauce. What do I do with the leftovers that don't require me to cook more? Pull out that ice cube tray again and freeze them in Tbs portions. After they're frozen, pop them out and store them in a labeled freezer bag.

3. Pasta sauce: Sometimes I just don't use all the pasta sauce I make or open. It drives me nuts when I see it sitting in the back of the fridge after it's slowly gotten pushed back during the week. throw it away kills me! I've learned to not trust myself that I'll use it before it goes bad so I freeze it the first night there's any leftovers! I freeze it in ice cube trays (notice the theme?), pop it out when it's frozen, and throw it in a labeled freezer bag. When your child (or husband) wants a single serving of pasta for lunch, you can throw a cube or two on the cooked pasta for an instant flavor burst!

4. Icing: I try to not load my cakes up with icing. This means that sometimes I have leftover icing. I throw it into a freezer container, put plastic wrap on top, and store it in the freezer until I need some for random cupcakes.

5. Almost too ripe fruit: Those darn pineapples always get too ripe before I cut it up! Since I can't throw it out, I cut it up first thing, put parchment paper on a large cookie sheet, spread out the cut pieces, put the tray in the freezer, and put the frozen pieces into a labeled freezer bag. You can do this with a ton of fruits. Throw the frozen fruits in smoothies in the morning with some water to mix. There's no added sugar, no dairy, nothing but fruit!

How do you use your freezer to save money?

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