As folks nationwide stock up on pantry staples amid coronavirus, food budgets can start to feel strained. We've got some simple tips to keep your budget in check, all the while eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding food waste.
But First: A gift for you!
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If you have the time and resources, preparing your own food from scratch rather than buying pre-made sauces, starters, and frozen dishes can help to stretch your budget. Think about it: a jar of hummus can cost up to $6, but a can of beans, clove of garlic, dash of cumin, and a lemon costs only about $3 total. That’s a 50% savings! Here is a quick and easy oil-free hummus recipe to make at home.
If you’re buying whole foods, that means you’ll have a great deal of peels, scraps, and skins. Don’t let those go to waste! Try these 4 tips and reduce your food waste significantly.
1. Freeze your scraps, bits and peels.
Each time you have leftover onion skins, pepper stems, celery tops, potato peels, and green bean ends put them in a designated baggie in your freezer labeled “veggie broth scraps.” Once the bag is full, use them to make your very own veggie broth!
2. Freeze meals and produce before they go bad.
3. Use fruit peels.
Leftover fruit peels can add a welcome zip to beverages like tea, mocktails, even just water! We especially like to add apple peels to tea or toss them with a big green salad. Oh, and whenever any recipe calls for lemon know that you can (and should!) use that extra juice and even the rind to give the recipe the extra oomph you deserve. Seriously, if you’re not zesting your lemons, stop reading this and go get a zester ASAP! (Pro tip: if you have a cheese grater, that's a zester!)
OK, now that you’ve got your zester...experience the magic of the humble lemon and its zest for yourself when you whip up this plant-based Blueberry Lemon French Toast recipe.
4. Make smoothies with scraps!
Another great way to use up “scraps” is to toss those babies right in the blender and make yourself a smoothie (check out some of our heart healthy smoothie recipes here). Celery leaves, strawberry tops, and kale stems can all be used in recipes that call for part of the aforementioned veggie or fruit. Just make sure you blend until everything’s smooth and creamy.
This does not mean panic-buy large amounts of a certain item. This means buy larger containers or packages of the item. For instance, buy a large bag of brown rice, once every few months, instead of buying a small bag every few weeks. Some stores even have a “bulk section” where you can pour dried foods like lentils and grains, then pay per pound. Buying in bulk can save you, on average, up to 20% off your purchase. On some items, you can save up to 50% off or more! When buying in bulk you’re best buying shelf-stable items like dried beans, grains, nuts, dried fruits, etc.
Batch cooking can not only save you money by promoting less food waste, but it can also save you a great deal of time in the kitchen. Batch cooking ensures that nothing in your refrigerator goes to waste. Spinach starting to wilt and mushrooms on the edge? Don’t let them go to waste! Make a massive Mushroom Tetrazzini, and freeze half of it in single-portion containers. Lots of veggies starting to soften in the fridge? Make a veggie stew and freeze it in single portion freezer baggies. Don’t forget to label them and add the date!
Instead of letting leftovers go to waste, repurpose them to make new and exciting dishes. If you have a large batch of veggie stir-fry, you can repurpose it into tacos (just add shells, beans, and avocado), stuffed peppers (mix with rice and stuff into a pepper to bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so), or mix into a breakfast scrabble (with baked oil-free home fries and sliced avocado).
Stocked your fridge with MamaSezz? Following these tips will not only stretch your MamaSezz meals but also add some fun variety to your plate. Here are some of our team members' favorite ways to spice up your MamaSezz (and stretch it out):
- MamaSezz Moroccan Stew over Brown Rice
- MamaSezz Milli’s Chili in a baked potato (or try these 6 other ways to enjoy Millie's chili)
- MamaSezz Hungarian Mushroom Soup over brown rice pasta or quinoa
- MamaSezz Breakfast Sausage mixed in with oil-free home fries (plus 9 other ideas for enjoying our vegan breakfast sausage!)
- MamaSezz Awesome Sauce over an Iceberg Lettuce Wedge (or try these 8 other tips for stretching out that Awesome Sauce!)
Don't Forget Your FREE recipe:
- Buy as many whole foods as possible
- Get creative with your food scraps and learn how to properly freeze produce and leftovers
- Buy your food in bulk to save money
- Batch cook to avoid food waste (and time waste!)
- Repurpose leftovers to make creative dishes with varying flavor profiles
- BONUS: Stretch your MamaSezz with inexpensive staples like brown rice, brown rice pasta, potatoes, and more!