How to Use Home Chef Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs

Faithful readers will recall that my husband and I tested and now continue to enjoy the most popular meal kit delivery service.

 

 

Since first writing about that (Dinner-in-a-Box is Not at All What I Thought) I’ve gotten the most interesting feedback. But first, a quick review:

From the meal kit delivery services available at that time, I selected Home Chef because 1) our zip code is in its delivery area—nearly 98% of the country is, 2) it is the cheapest and 3) I predicted it would be the most family-friendly. Turns out I nailed it.

Home Chef meals are absolutely delicious and use normal, fresh food—not exotic fare or ingredients we’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

A Home Chef meal kit includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant-quality meals for 2, 4 or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen, eliminating recipe searches and food shopping by sending everything required for that meal—perfectly portioned and ready to go.

Seriously, Home Chef is like having your own personal shopper and sous chef. Read more

What to Do With Leftover Green Salad (Don’t Throw it Out!)

If throwing out perfectly delicious leftover green salad were a crime, I’d be serving a life sentence.

 

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It kills me to do it, but until fairly recently, I had no idea there was a second life for a leftover green salad, dressed or not. Once tossed, passed and partially consumed, that’s it, right? Wrong.

Salad dressing

Mix the leftover salad in a blender with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and some garlic or herb seasonings and you have dressing for your next salad. I have done this several times now and the results are quite amazing. You have to try it. Just make sure you have your seasonings handy.


RELATED: Get Clever with Leftovers: Coffee, Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes


Make soup

Turn that leftover green salad into hot vegetable soup: Process the leftover salad in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock. Pour into a saucepan, stir in another 1/2 cup stock or the amount needed to create a nice consistency. Heat thoroughly and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs like basil, chives or parsley.

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In a Pinch You Can Use This for That

Have you ever discovered you’re all out of a certain ingredient just when you’re in the middle of preparing a recipe? I hate when that happens. And I know myself well enough that I don’t want to run to the store.

For me, an unscheduled trip like that could easily cost $40, maybe more. That’s just how impulsive I can be. I’ve learned that when I’m in a pinch— I need a pinch-hitter!

 

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Here is my list of cooking and baking substitutes that I refer to often:

Need an egg

Combine two tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Thicken gravy

If you’re out of flour, you can substitute pancake mix up to three tablespoons. It works well, just don’t go over three tablespoons or your guests will be looking for the maple syrup.

Breadcrumbs

Crumble 1/2 slice of bread and mix 1/4 cup broken crackers to substitute.

Baking powder

For each teaspoon of baking powder, substitute: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Baking soda

You need to use 2 to 3 times more double-acting baking powder than baking soda. Replace acidic liquid ingredient in the recipe with non-acidic liquid, i.e. water instead of vinegar or lemon juice, etc.

Buttermilk

Combine one cup of fresh milk and one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic?

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

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French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

26006816_m

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Read more

13 Ways to Save Money Eating Out at Restaurants

The average American household spends most of its money—62% of an average $56,000 in annual expenditures—on just three things: housing, transportation, and food. If you’re trying to cut costs and save money, food is the place to get started.

Reducing restaurant visits and increasing your home-cooked meals is a surefire way to cut food costs. And when you do opt to eat out, here are 13 realistic, ethical and pretty awesome ways to keep your tab lean!

 

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1. Special Menu

Many restaurants offer a reduced-price menu for seniors and children. If you or someone in your party qualifies, be sure to inquire if the special pricing doesn’t show up on the regular menu. Typically these discounted menus offer smaller portions at significantly reduced prices.

2. Skip the Sodas

Skip the pricey drinks and dubious “free refills” altogether and you’ll save at least $2 a person. EC reader Lisa B. rewards herself whenever she opts for water by stuffing two bucks into her savings account.

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How to Make Perfect Iced Coffee

As a coffee lover, there’s one thing I just didn’t get until quite recently: iced coffee. What?! The idea left me well, cold. Coffee is supposed to be hot. Very, very hot.

And then I made a fatal mistake. I accepted a sample of iced coffee in a popular coffee shop. It was strong, sweet, creamy and icy, icy cold. Wow.

 

Making iced coffee

The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee

 

I needed to figure out how to make this myself—it was that good—because as much as I might want iced coffee again, I was not going to pay the outrageous price to have someone else make it for me. Read more

How to Prevent Cheese From Turning Green and Moldy

Call me picky, but I prefer my greens to be those of the garden variety, not something growing on my cheese. 

Don’t you just hate when that happens? You buy a block of cheese and before you can use it up it turns into something that looks more like a science fair project than a tasty dairy product.

 

I’ll admit it. Back in my carefree spendthrift days, I’d toss the cheese in the garbage when it turned moldy—oblivious to the fact that I might as well be throwing dollar bills away.

True, we could opt for buying just a few slices at a time from the deli counter, but that’s too expensive. And unnecessary. I can save more than $2 a pound off the best price at the supermarket if I buy in bulk from a discount warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco. And that presents a storage challenge.


MORE: Food Cost-Cutting Strategies for Every Lifestyle


Whoever said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” must have been a deli owner. Think about it. With all that cheese in those cases, have you ever seen one growing green mold? Never. 

All I know about the proper care and handling of cheese I learned from one such person. That kind deli owner introduced me to the two archenemies of cheese: bacteria and air.

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