If a trip to the supermarket doesn't make you sick, you may not be paying attention to prices. Food costs are increasing by leaps and bounds, and there's no relief on the horizon.
For some, coupons are the method of choice to keep food costs under control. But that doesn't work for everyone. There's another way to keep food costs down: Use it up. Now is a good time to rekindle the fine art of leftovers.
FOUR RULES OF LEFTOVERS
1. Rename it. Just saying the word "leftovers" produces a nasty taste in the mouths of many people I know. Think of anything left over as an ingredient for a future dish with a new name.
2. Store foods safely. Cooked foods should not be allowed to cool to room temperature but should be placed in clean, covered containers, refrigerated immediately after a meal and consumed within two or three days.
3. Develop a system. Keep it secret if you must, but come up with a system for leftovers. Menu planning is probably the most foolproof method of making sure a food gets used during its safe-storage time. Some people plan the use of leftovers as the food is first prepared.
4. Make the judgment calls. Decide if the leftover items are really worth using. If it was bad the first time around, it may be beyond an effective rescue. Or, if it will require that you spend $10 to incorporate 50 cents' worth of your leftover, you might want to
CHALLENGE OF THE MONTH: LEFTOVER GREEN SALAD
If throwing out perfectly delicious green salad were a crime, I'd be serving a life sentence. But until researching for this column, I had no idea there was a second life for fresh green salad, dressed or not.
Once tossed, passed and partially consumed, that's it, right? Wrong.
Gazpacho salsa. Blend your salad with V8 Juice to create a thick gazpacho (a cold Spanish/Portuguese tomato-based raw vegetable soup). Add a little hot sauce, and extend it even further with the addition of red pepper and cucumber.
Salad dressing. Mix the leftover salad in a blender with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and garlic or herb seasonings. I tried this, and it was an amazing salad dressing. You have to try it. I added garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Make soup. Process the leftover salad in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock. Pour into saucepan, stir in another 1/2 cup stock or the amount needed to create desired 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.
Add to soup. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, blends it all together and adds it to her hot soups. The greens and vinegar add great flavor to the soups. Make sure you adjust the seasonings, Ina suggests. And a dash of cream to finish can't hurt, either.
Write to email@example.com or Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.