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Waste Not, Want Not

September 27, 2012

Stretching your grocery money is often just a matter of creativity.  Learn to not waste a thing.  (We’ve even included a few general money saving tips because after all, saving money, is saving money no matter which “pot” it comes from!)

Use it up,

Wear it out,

Make it do,

Or do without!

1. Never throw out fat, be it bacon, sausage, rendered chicken/duck/turkey fat.  Pour it through a sieve to keep the brown bits out.  Then store it in the refrigerator.  Use to fry your eggs, melt over your winter vegetables, saute onions and garlic for recipes–the options are endless.  Leftover grease is free flavor!

2. Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays.  Use in recipes that call for coffee or drop into coconut or almond milk for a refreshing drink!

3. When you have that one or two little spoonfuls of vegetables leftover and you’re not sure it’s worth saving, chop them and put them in the freezer in a zipper bag or plastic container.  Reach for these veggies for omelettes or soups.

4. Never throw out bones from roasts, poultry or fish.  Use this for making broths and stocks.

5. The ends of baguettes and french loaves that get tough–don’t throw them out!  Place in the food processor and pulse, making bread crumbs.  Store in freezer.

6. When bananas get overripe and mushy, don’t throw them out!  Peel and freeze.  These are perfect for banana bread, smoothies and “soft serve” non-dairy ice cream.

7. Compost everything you can’t find a way to eat!  Or feed it to your chickens.  Or feed it to your worms for great vermicompost!

8. Bruised fruit or fruit that has passed it’s prime that everyone passes up in the fruit bowl, cut it up and freeze it.  Use in smoothies.

9.  If you purchase whole fish, save the head, tale and spine (some full-service butchers will sell these parts to you really inexpensively), use this to make fish stock.  The same applies to shrimp shells, tails and heads.

10. Save your banana peels and plant them under your rose bushes to give your roses a potassium feed.

11. Place used coffee grounds around your pepper and tomato plants to boost soil nitrogen.

12. If a recipe calls for crumbled or chopped bacon, ask the butcher to sell you the ends and pieces.  These are usually considerably cheaper than properly sliced bacon.  It won’t matter if they are pretty if you are crumbling them anyway!

13. When you get to the bottom of your honey jar, don’t just wash it or toss it.  Fill it with hot tea and give it a good stir!  There’s still enough honey in the jar to sweeten several cups of tea.

14. Turn leftover rice into rice pudding!

15. Turn day old french bread into bread pudding!

16. Use the trimmed ends of peppers, onions, celery and carrots to make vegetable stock.  Freeze the stock for use in recipes.

17.  If you buy broth or stock for a recipe and don’t use all of it, freeze it for use later.

18. Puree leftover root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) in some stock to make creamy vegetable soup.

19. Freeze extra fresh herbs.  Chop them finely, place in ice cube trays with just a bit of water to hold them together.  Then keep them in zipper bags so you can throw into soups or thaw for use in recipes.

20. If a recipe calls for the zest of a lemon, lime or orange, don’t toss the fruit after the peel has been used.  Juice it and freeze it for use in a different recipe.

21. Don’t buy single serving bottled water.  Use re-purposed jars to carry your water with you.

22. Save butter wrappers in the refrigerator.  The next time a recipe calls for greasing a baking dish, pull out a wrapper and rub the inside of it on the dish.  It’s the perfect amount!

23.  Have leftovers but not enough for a complete meal?  Freeze them in a lunch portion.  This is especially good trick for soups.

24. That leftover bit of oatmeal?  Use it in muffins to add extra fiber.

25.  Excess zucchini from the garden, of the whale size version, is great shredded and frozen for later use in breads, soups and even spaghetti sauce.

26.  Oil used for frying can be used several times simply by straining the oil through a coffee filter into a jar.  Leftover oil is especially good for giving fried foods that deep rich brown color.  (The only time to not save oil is after frying fish.  It tends to smell really fishy after that!)

27.  Not kitchen related, but handy indeed, is to not throw away or even recycle letter size printer paper until the kids have also used it for sketching on the back side.  (Also handy for shopping lists or notes to hubby!)

28.  Save wine corks for crafts like garden markers or to top potted plants as a mulch.

29.  Re-purpose small jars as drinking glasses.  We especially like these for kids because if a few get broken we haven’t invested a whole lot of money in them.

30.  Make your own spice combinations by purchasing bulk spices and mixing your own.  (Cajun Blackened, BBQ Rub, Herbs de Provence)  Also great as a hostess gift in a re-purposed spice jar!

What are your favorite money saving techniques?

(Linked to Little Natural CottageMorris Tribe Blog HopFrugally Sustainable, Motivation MondayTiny Tip Tuesday and Creative HomeAcre Blog Hop.)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2012 11:18 am

    I love this! I had been thinking of writing a post myself on money saving ideas. Many of yours I hadn’t thought of. I know this may seem like a silly question, but with bacon fat, and all the other fats, would you separate them from each other or just mix them in the same jar?

    • Daja permalink*
      September 27, 2012 11:23 am

      Not a silly question at all!

      Some fats I mix: bacon, sausage, prosciutto, etc. They are all the same “family.”

      I keep duck fat in its own jar (it’s currently my favorite).

      I keep the vegetable oils separate from the meat oils. And clarified butter (ghee) on its own as well.

      Hope that helps!

    • September 27, 2012 11:25 am

      That’s not a silly question. I wouldn’t combine the fats, because each has its own flavor profile that might be good in one recipe, but not as complimentary in another. Additionally, as a personal chef, I wouldn’t recommend combining them in the extremely small chance of cross contamination. Best to keep each one in a separate jar.

      • Daja permalink*
        September 27, 2012 11:41 am

        Hehehehe! We replied at almost the exact same time. And both started with, “That’s not a silly question.”

        I’m tellin’ ya. We share the same brain. LOL!

  2. September 27, 2012 3:19 pm

    I do almost all of these myself, but learned something new with the banana peels and coffee grounds. And the tip for making tea with the end of the honey. Thanks!

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    September 27, 2012 6:17 pm

    Well, for us #’s 1,4,9,12 (don’t eat meat) and #26 (don’t fry) and #27 (don’t drink) are off the list. I always mean to freeze the left over coffee as cubes but never get around to it. My husband however solves the problem, he just reheats the day old coffee and drinks it.

    We never have left over ends of any bread because that is my favorite part. EVeryone knows i get the end piece in garlic bread and when a new loaf of any bread is sliced into they take the 2nd cut and leave the end piece for me.

    When I have to zest a citrus (#20) I just stick the fruit back in the fruit drawer. The pith dries our a bit and the insides stay perfectly fine. Bruised fruit (#8) here becomes fruit crisp or fruit sauce. No one can tell and we don’t eat smoothies. It’s also good to chop up and add to muffins.

    We do compost (#7) and we do it year round. You just have to keep a path going out there through the snow and make sure it stays hot. Our town’s state University made it into the TOP GREENEST SCHOOLS in the country in SIERRA magazine due to their biodigester. All food waste from the campus goes there.

    Day old bread (#15) is good for making strata also, or steamed cantaloupe-sized bread dumplings to be slice with dental floss and served with gravy and red cabbage. I just did up my pickled red cabbage last night.

    Lots of good hints. Imagine if everyone followed them how much less waste there would be. My best hint I guess would just be one of good sanitation. Keep your refrigerator clean and know what is in there. Don’t let anything have a chance to fester in the back. Keep the fruit and vegetable drawers dry and room for air to circulate. Keep and eye on potatoes and onions for any sign of rot or spoilage and nip it in the bud. Watch your stored vegetables in your root cellar or unheated basement. I like to clean vegetables when I bring them home so that when I get home from work the broccoli , cauliflower whatever is ready to go. They also keep longer I find when cleaned.

  4. October 1, 2012 6:33 am

    Lots of good hints here. Have you been reading about the World War 2 era? Some of these hints sound like the things I’ve read about with my girls during history class. Good post!

  5. October 3, 2012 4:59 am

    Lots of great tips, and several I hadn’t thought of. Another tip – fry up baked potato and sweet potato pieces. And, use cooked veggies in an omelet rather than making new ones.

    I’m especially glad I read this post today because I’m doing the October #unprocessed challenge. Some of the foods I cooked have not been well received by the family though obviously I don’t want to throw them out.

    Thanks for linking up at Motivation Monday!

    • October 3, 2012 6:30 am

      Hi Barb,
      Don’t lose heart while making changes to your family meals. You are leading the way to better health and nutrition for you family! There may be some grumbling along the way, but if you don’t give in the change will happen!

      So glad you enjoyed our post!

  6. October 5, 2012 10:16 pm

    Great list, Daja! A lot of these things I already do, but there were a few new things I learned today, like the creamy root vegetable idea! Thanks for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday 🙂 I’m pinning this and sharing it on my FB page.

  7. March 12, 2013 9:35 am

    I didn’t see this first time around. 🙂 I am definitely doing the leftover coffee thing. Many of these, I already do!

    One thing… coffee grounds don’t add nitrogen (generally, green things add nitrogen, brown things add carbon). But, they DO acidify the soil, and peppers and tomatoes love more-acid soil than most garden plants. In the Phoenix area, we have terribly alkaline soil, so I regularly add my grounds to compost. And from time to time, I make the rounds at a nearby Starbucks and collect their trashcan full of grounds. They keep grounds separate from the “regular” trash, specifically for gardeners to reuse. 🙂

  8. March 15, 2013 11:52 am

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you this Sunday at:


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