These money-saving techniques were common for a housewife managing the household food budget in the 1950s and 1960s. There were far fewer convenience foods back then. For some items commonly used today, such as boxed croutons and canned chicken stock, you can be easily make them yourself and save money.
- Throw no food away. This means nothing. Reheat leftover servings from dinner for tomorrow’s lunch at the office. Create a dinner smorgasbord from the refrigerator stash–just eat up the leftovers as the evening meal. Read on for ways to use leftover bread and produce.
- Use the ends from a loaf of bread, as well as leftover toast or biscuits, etc. Collect several pieces and make bread pudding or breakfast strata on the weekend (find recipes for both at http://allrecipes.com or http://www.epicurious.com). Cut bread slices into cubes and toast them in the oven for croutons to top salad or soup. Grind pieces in a food processor and use the crumbs to coat chicken or fish before frying, add to meatballs or meatloaf, or make a crust for cheesecake.
- Make soup or salad from leftovers for a simple supper. After every meal, freeze small amounts of any leftovers (cooked meat, vegetables, rice, pasta, grain, etc.). When you have enough accumulated enough for a family-size batch of soup, combine them along with leftover fresh produce (including commonly discarded lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes). If you need inspiration, use as a guide a basic soup recipe such as minestrone, beef barley and vegetable, chicken noodle, bean and vegetable, roasted vegetable, or winter vegetable. Even greens can be made into delicious Lettuce Soup, BLT Soup, or Jade Garden Soup. In warm weather, make salad instead of soup; toss together leftover meats, veggies, and cheese with beans, pasta or rice, or fresh greens and your favorite dressing.
- Drink tap water instead of bottled water. Fill a reusable bottle from the tap for water on the go.
- Drink soda pop only as a treat. Don’t drink soda as a daily beverage. It used to be a treat, for Friday night or summer barbecues.
- Eat dessert only on holidays and special occasions, such as the 4th of July and birthdays.
- Buy bulk cereal such as rolled oats instead of more expensive ready-to-eat cereal, instant hot cereal, or individual serving cereal. Use the microwave for quick and easy Banana Nut, Cherry Almond, or Apple oatmeal. Make delicious cold cereal muesli with Fruit and Oats or Walnuts and Brown Sugar.
- Make your own chips and snacks. Buy large packages of pita bread, tortillas, or wonton skins and bake your own chips. Simply cut them into wedges, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp and lightly browned. Try this recipe for the Original Chex Party Mix from the 1960s.
- Stop buying canned stock. If you want stock for soup or stew, poach meat or boil bones in water. Add onion, carrot, celery, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns to the water for additional flavor. Use this technique for vegetable stock, too. Use vegetable trimmings such as potato peels, onion skins, leek tops, carrot peels, parsley stems, and mushroom ends.
- Grow your own fresh herbs. For less than the price of one jar of dried herbs, you can buy herb starts and have an unlimited supply of fresh herbs that you grow yourself.
…and to make fresh herbs that you grow last though winter, dehydrate them. I just added two types of lavendar plants to my herb garden so I can dry them and use them in gifts I make – sachets, eye pillows, etc.
I don’t grow bay leaves, but I do buy them fresh and then dehydrate them. They have so much flavor and you can actually smell them when dried, unlike the bottled kind. ;-)
I’m sooooo about the tap water. It’s also much better for the environment than using all those plastic bottles! Plus tap water gets tested several times per day by your municipality. Bottled water is not tested at all. Ever.