I remember my grandmother saying, “If we didn’t need food, we’d all be rich!” This may be true, but then, a life without food would be a little less pleasurable. Still, there are so many ways to make great food cheap, make perishable food last and the grocery budget stretch like nobody’s business.
Enjoy today’s tips, filled with practiced wisdom for practical solutions to make cooking fun and rewarding for you and your family. Bon appetit!
PUT A LID ON IT. When I first started cooking, making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich seemed to elude me. Either my sandwich was toasted on the outside with unmelted cheese inside, or the cheese was gooey but the outside burnt. Then I figured out the old fry cook trick: put a lid on it! Once one side is perfectly grilled, turn it over and then cover the pan with a lid or baking sheet. You will never settle for a sub-par grilled cheese again.
SLIPPERY CHICKEN. Pulling the skin off chicken can be tough when it’s slippery because it’s difficult to get a good grip. Solution: Dip your fingers in flour first and the skin will pull right off.
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ONE LOVELY CUPPA. If you love coffee as much as I do and have never tried a gadget called Aerobie (everydaycheapskate.com/aerobie) by AeroPress, you are in for a delicious surprise. Aerobie is manual and the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to make a really great cup of coffee. And, yes, I do mean just one cup of perfectly brewed coffee at a time. Aerobie is small enough to keep one in your desk drawer at the office and another at home. Can’t break the $4-a-day Starbucks habit? This could do it. For me, Aerobie makes such a superior cup of coffee, breaking that habit’s a cinch.
HEAT THE MUG. Tired of that first morning cup of steaming hot coffee cooling off too quickly? Do this: As your coffee is brewing, fill your coffee mug with water and heat it to boiling in the microwave. Pour out the water into a dirty dish or pan that needs to be soaked, and replace with hot coffee. You’ll be amazed by how much longer the coffee stays hot.
WARM THINGS UP. This clever move used by high-end chefs galore keeps dishes that tend to set up quickly — like risotto or creamy pasta (including mac and cheese) — nice and loose: Serve on warm plates. Use your oven set to “warm” to heat plates.
COOL THINGS DOWN. If you are sautéing onions and they start to get too brown, toss in an ice cube to chill down the pan fast. The water will evaporate quickly, and your onions will be saved.
SPEED UP MEATLOAF. When you’ve got a hankering for a hunk’a meat but don’t want to wait an hour or more for meatloaf to cook, divide and conquer: Divvy the meat into individual portions in a muffin tin,and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes.
ONE GOOD EGG. To determine whether an egg is still fresh enough to eat, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it’s fresh; if it rises to the surface, toss it.
FREEZING EGGS. When eggs are on sale, stock up. Break the eggs into a freezer-safe container and whisk well to blend. Freeze. When you need an egg in a recipe, use an ice cream scoop to portion out what you need, as you would scoop ice cream. Once scoop equals one egg.
GREASE THE GRATER. To get more cheese in the recipe and less stuck on the grater, spray both sides of the grater lightly with cook spray before grating the cheese.
Mary Hunt, founder of www.EverydayCheapskate.com, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Submit comments, tips or questions on her website. She will answer topics of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.