Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being resourceful in the kitchen

Feel free to laugh, but one of my biggest *thrills* in homemaking is being resourceful. One of the ways this plays out is that I try very hard to avoid "little" errands, such as running to the grocery store for just one or two items. I enjoy figuring out recipes using what I already have on hand. Usually the creative substitutions or strategies have excellent results!

Here are some examples:

*Recently, we decided last minute to have some people over to play games. We always try to have some snacks available, but on this occasion, our snack options were limited. I remembered I had a bag of unopened oyster crackers in the pantry that was nearing it's best-by date, and I did a quick on-line search to find some inspiration for jazzing them up a bit. I found just the right recipe, using ingredients I already had on hand. (I mixed basil and parsley.) These were incredibly delicious, and I'll definitely make them again, especially since I can get a bag of oyster crackers for 99 cents or less.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed a sweet oyster cracker recipe on the Hy-Vee bag:

1 12 oz. package oyster crackers
6 T. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place oyster crackers in a greased 9x13 pan or large cookie sheet. Combine butter, sugar and cinnamon and pour over oyster crackers, stirring well. Makes about 6 cups. Also quite tasty, though I preferred the savory version.

*When we were at the lake this summer, we were preparing fajitas for supper when we realized we didn't have any fajita seasoning. I've been making my own for years, but it seemed to cumbersome to whip it up right then with supper prep already underway. My mother-in-law was getting ready to run out to the store to buy a couple packets when I remembered we had a large bottle of taco seasoning, which is of course quite similar. That's obviously not a big stretch to sub taco seasoning for fajita, but the point is it saved my MIL from a trip to the store. And that is what I find so satisfying.

*My kids wanted some popsicles during our long heat wave, but I didn't want to buy the sugary kind. I made several different versions, which were all cheap, quick and healthier than many store-bought kinds. For all of these, I used my hand-me-down plastic popsicle molds.
#1 Pureed strawberries with a little sugar
#2 Juice from canned fruit with a few chopped-up pieces of the fruit (pears, mandarin oranges)
#3 Juice/lemonade
I also froze yogurt in cookie cutters to make fun treats--my kids loved these!

While I certainly enjoy being resourceful, I definitely want to improve in this area. I've been trying to make one big grocery shopping trip every Saturday, but I still usually have to run to the store once or even twice during the rest of the week to pick up a couple things, usually dairy or produce--and that's with making frequent substitutions!  

I'm curious how many times you visit the grocery store in a typical week? Do you enjoy making substitutions on recipes, or do you tend to stick to what is called for?


Wendi said...

I visit the store no more then once a week. I try to only go every two weeks. A big trip at the beginning of the month and then once in between for milk and fresh produce. I find the less I go the more money we save.

Sara said...

I usually go once or twice, depending. I shop a lot at Aldi, and so I usually have to make a second trip if there are ingredients I need that they don't have at Aldi (like diet coke - ha!). But I do try to substitute too, and make my own "mixes" like your seasoning mix.

angie said...

I shop for groceries once a week. Sometimes I will stop at a produce stand another time during the week to fill up the fruit bowl.
Like you, I do not like to make several trips to the grocery store. It seems to eat up time and money. My excuse used to be that I had small kids at home and going to the grocery store was such a chore. Now that they are much older, I still feel the same!
I will make substitutions in recipes, plan my dinner around what I have, or ask to borrow from my neighbor. (She also does this with me.)

Mom said...

I go to the grocery store once a week -- rarely do I make a second trip. Planning menus has been a big help in sticking with that. I do sometimes make a quick stop at Walgreens for sale items, but those aren't always groceries.

If I come up missing an ingredient, I either substitute some other ingredient or make something different.

Good for you for using your resources -- I'm glad the oyster cracker snack was a success! :)

Love you, Mom

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

It just depends. I'm finally getting back into shopping the sale ads, so sometimes I'm hitting a couple of stores, and sometimes I'm just filling in the gaps. Then there are trips to Braum's. My husband will only drink Braum's milk, so that's yet another stop.

Danielle Wagasky said...

I go once a month. We freeze our milk and other foods to use later in the month. You can see my post about it on my blog Blissful and Domestic


Kara K said...

Sometimes I feel like I live at the grocery store. When I successfully substiute something or just do without, I feel so victorious!