The biggest trend in food lately is the staggering cost of groceries. Most Americans experience sticker shock as they fill their supermarket carts. My husband and I are handling this crisis differently.
I’m aware of what we have on hand and think carefully about every purchase.
Although he goes to the store with a list and good intentions, he falls prey to buying items that he worries we need.
“Lettuce was on sale, so I bought two heads,” he said yesterday.
“But we already have enough lettuce in the house! I snapped. “Next time call me before veering from the list.”
The first step in controlling your food bill is to make a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases. Be particularly selective about perishables, which must be consumed quickly. Buy nonperishables on sale or at bulk rates, but only if you need them. Tape a list to your pantry of its contents, so you don’t collect a glut of foods that will expire before you can eat them.
Replace expensive foods with more economical items. Substitute meat with less costly proteins, such as eggs, cheese and beans. Mix meat into dishes with several ingredients so each portion of meat is small.
Believe it or not, your refrigerator habits influence how much you spend on food. Don’t let perishables go bad in the back of the refrigerator. If fruits and vegetables are turning soft, cook them while they’re still good. Store bread in the refrigerator, as it inhibits mold. Eat up what is in the refrigerator before buying more food.
You can’t control soaring supermarket prices, but you can streamline your spending.
Penne with Peas | Pareve
1 pound penne
4 tablespoons olive oil, or more, if needed
1 large onion, diced finely
2 (8-ounce) packages mushrooms, sliced
Kosher salt to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups frozen peas, defrosted
Prepare the penne according to package directions.
In a large pot, briefly heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Add more oil, if needed. Add the garlic, and sauté until wilted and fragrant. Gently stir in the peas, and heat them over a low flame until warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.
Drain the penne in a colander, and move it to a pasta bowl. Spoon the onion-mushroom mixture over the penne, and serve immediately.
Three Bean Chili | Meat
1 (15.5-ounce) can each: black beans, red beans and pinto beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1½ pounds ground turkey
Kosher salt to taste
1 large onion, diced finely
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.75-ounce) can of tomato soup
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with onions
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes with chilies
¼ cup beef broth, or more if needed
In a colander, rinse the cans of beans under cold water and drain. Reserve.
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium flame. Add the turkey, and sprinkle it with salt. Sauté to brown it. With a spoon utensil, break up the turkey so it doesn’t form large clumps. Pour the contents of the pot into a second colander and drain, discarding the liquids.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and heat until warm. Add the onion. Sprinkle with cumin and chili powder. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Return the turkey to the pot. Add the tomato soup, diced tomatoes with onions, tomatoes with chilies, beef broth and the beans. Bring it to a fast simmer, then reduce the heat to low for a slow simmer.
Simmer for 1-2 hours until a thickened chili texture is reached. Add more broth, if needed, if the liquids evaporate too quickly.
A Totally Flexible Fruit Compote | Pareve or Dairy
If you’ve got fruit that has turned soft — but has not gone bad — rescue it by making fruit compote.
Here are fruits that make the best compotes: apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, oranges and grapes. You can add canned or frozen fruit to fresh fruit. Red grapes add a lovely pink tone to the poaching liquid.
Assortment of fruit
Water or apple juice for poaching
1 cinnamon stick or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
A generous drizzle of honey
1 drop of vanilla
Optional: a drizzle of rum or orange liqueur
If using apples, pears or peaches, peel, pit and core them. Cut them into eighths or bite-sized pieces. Pit the cherries. Hull the strawberries and cut them in half. Cut the oranges into small wedges, discarding the pith and pits. You can keep the skin on.
Select any combination of fruit mentioned above, and place it in an appropriately sized pot. Barely cover it with water or apple juice. Add the cinnamon, honey and vanilla. Add a little drizzle of rum or orange liqueur, if using.
Place a lid on the pot, and bring it to a boil. Lower the flame to a simmer. Watch the pot carefully so the liquids don’t boil away. When the fruit is cooked through and the poaching liquid has thickened, the compote is ready. Stir in more honey if the compote is too tart.
This tastes delicious on its own as a dessert, either warm or cold. It can be served warm or cold over vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt. It also makes a surprising topping on pancakes, waffles, French toast, pound cake or oatmeal.