Skip to main content

More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will see their benefits go down starting Friday, just as Congress has begun negotiations on further cuts to the program. What can these 47 million Americans do who depend on food stamps? In this story EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell discusses on how go save money on food using garbage.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/...

Here is the entire story.

Lots of people are looking for ways to stretch their food budget, and in addition to using coupons and looking for sales (which are excellent ideas), you might also consider using garbage. Yes, you can save money on food if you use garbage.

Do I mean real garbage?
The critical thing to understand here is the meaning of “garbage.” I am referring to food that is perfectly safe to eat but that you might normally throw away because you think it’s not usable.

If you recognize these food items and learn what you can do with them, you can stretch your food dollars and even grow food from garbage. Caveat: I am not promising you will save lots of money, but as my mother used to say (and probably your mother, too) every little bit counts.

There are also other benefits to using so-called garbage to save money and grow food:

  • The satisfaction of knowing you are creatively frugal
  • If you involve your kids in the process, it’s a great learning experience for them
  • You may get to play in the dirt (not a plus in everyone’s book, but it was fun when we were kids, right, so why not now too?)

Ways to save money on food using garbage
The following suggestions cover a wide range of possibilities, from short-term to long-term results, and ideas that can be great fun for your kids as well as yourself.

Save citrus rinds: You can use lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit rinds to make infused water, which is now all the rage and so much better for you (and your kids) than expensive, sugar-laden soda. Refer to these recipes and tips on how to make your own inexpensive and healthful infused water.

Grow veggies from garbage: You may be throwing away potential produce: the ends of romaine lettuce and celery stalks, garlic and ginger, potato eyes, and other parts of veggies. The fact is, you can grow new veggies from the parts that you may normally toss in the trash byfollowing a few simple instructions.

For example, when using green onions, take the white ends that have the stringy roots and place them in a container with water. Leave the top of the plant above the surface of the water. Put the container on a window sill. The green portion of the onion will grow back, and you can harvest them while the base of the onion continues to grow. Be sure to change the water every few days.

Revive stale cereal, crackers, cookies, and chips: If your breakfast cereal, crackers, cookies, or snack chips get soggy or stale, don’t throw them away. Revive them by placing them in a microwave for about 30 seconds. (Do not use a plastic container: ceramic or glass is best.) An alternative is to place them in a 425 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes.

Salvage veggie tops: No, the green tops of beets, radishes, and turnips are not garbage: they are nutritious, delicious food! If you or your kids will not consider eating steamed beet, radish, and turnip greens (which taste great), then chop them up and add them to soups and stews.

Reuse your leftovers: If you have leftover veggies, rice, pasta, and/or beans, don’t throw them away! Immediately after the meal, place them in airtight containers and put them in the refrigerator. You can use them in a quick, easy, and inexpensive soup. Just add them to a simple vegetable broth and you can have a full-bodied soup in minutes. Leftover veggies and beans also are a great addition to a green salad or as pita stuffers.

Savor ripe fruit: Don’t toss out overly ripe fruits. Remove any obviously bad spots and use them to make smoothies or fruit ice pops. For example, if you suddenly find you have too many ripe bananas, put them in the freezer in an airtight container. Later, process them in a food processor to make a type of “ice cream” of creamy bananas, to which you can add nuts, syrup, or other favorite toppings.

Save your milk: If you know you have too much milk and won’t use it up before it goes bad, freeze it. Put it into airtight containers and leave about 1.5 inches of space at the top to allow for expansion. Thawed milk is better for cooking, baking, or making smoothies than it is for drinking straight. Be sure to shake is up well before using as it thaws.

Reuse seeds from veggies and fruits. You can save the seeds from certain vegetables and fruits to dry and plant later (a great task for kids) to start a garden without needing to buy seeds. The seeds from bell pepper, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, and eggplant typically can be easily and successfully saved if you follow a few instructions.

Use leftover mashed potatoes and oatmeal: When your kids don’t finish their oatmeal, you don’t have to throw it away (although you might give it to your dog). Instead, made pancakes and another great meal idea! Here’s a simple recipe for using leftover oatmeal. If the oatmeal already contains fruit or nuts, all the better.

1 ½ cups leftover oatmeal
¾ cup low-fat milk or soymilk
2 Tbs melted butter
½ cup wheat flour
½ tsp salt
1 slightly beaten egg or equivalent egg substitute
1 tsp baking powder

In a bowl, slowly add the milk to the oatmeal and stir well. Add in melted butter and egg. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the oatmeal combination. In a preheated skillet treated with spray oil, spoon the oatmeal mixture and cook until the cakes have bubbles, then turn them over. Brown lightly and serve.

The bottom line
I have a general rule in my kitchen: if I realize something will not be used before it will go bad, I freeze it or find a way to use it up in a recipe I can freeze. Breads and other baked goods, veggies (I blanch them and then freeze them), fruits (airtight bags), and opened jars of sauces and condiments are promptly dated and frozen.

Many a small package of frozen veggies have later made their way into an omelet, beans have been refried, or thawed bread has been transformed into stuffing or croutons. Bell pepper plants from saved seeds are blooming right now in my garden. You can save yourself money and be creative at the same time if you use garbage when you prepare meals.

Poll

Do you think the Congress will renew food stamp spending?

23%15 votes
44%28 votes
31%20 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  There were actually a couple of tips in here that (9+ / 0-)

    I found helpful-- I never knew you could freeze milk, for example.  So thank you for posting this.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:14:20 PM PDT

    •  You Can Use Freezer Baggies & Therefore (6+ / 0-)

      leave them virtually airtight with almost no air space, cuts down on freezer burn.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:56:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We tried one of those vacuum sealers for a while (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos

        but the sealing plastic was expensive, it created yet more plastic waste, when we were trying to cut down on the plastic trash we create, and the vacuum pump conked out on it after 6 or 8 months anyway, so we never replaced it.  Far easier to just make sure we used up foods on successive days.

      •  use a simple straw as a "vacuum pump" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        concernedamerican, unfangus

        just stick it in one corner of the zip-top of the freezer bag and zip up to the straw. then compress the zip opening around the straw with your fingertips and suck out as much air as possible. finally, after one last suck, pinch the straw closed, withdraw it while holding the zip-strip as closed as possible, and close the zipper. IF your freezer bag is air-tight, this process can get as much as, say, 90%+ of the air out of the bag!

        We use and re-use (and RE-use) Zip-Loc brand bags for freezing. I have found that the blue-zip freezer bags do not last anywhere near as long as the pinky-purple-zip regular food storage bags!

        Drying these bags after washing can be... interesting. After much experimentation, I have found that a Vitamin D bottle, with a handful of gravel and filled with water, placed on the kitchen window divider between the upper & lower panes, will successfully anchor a wet, upside down freezer bag while it dries.

        "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

        by chimene on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 12:10:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can hang them on the clothes line outside or (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus

          put sticks in a flower pot filled with stones and simply put them on the sticks. They'll dry nicely.

          Soldiers and veterans are the reason we are able to argue about issues and to live in a free country. Let's not let their blood be wasted. Remember all gave some and some gave all. Honor their sacrifices.

          by Somegaveall on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:48:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We use and re-use ziploc bags too. I have a "no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus

          single use" policy when it comes to most everything plastic that enters our house.  The ziploc bags we use multiple times over a period of years.  We've had worse luck with the actual zipper bags, than with the bags that have lines you press along to seal.  Those zipper-pull seals seem less secure and break more easily for some reason.

          That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

          by concernedamerican on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 06:39:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is an excellent idea about the straw! eom (0+ / 0-)



          Women create the entire labor force.
          ---------------------------------------------
          Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:34:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Too bad GOP's budget proposal isn't edible (8+ / 0-)

    because its garbage.  

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:22:35 PM PDT

  •  Some great ideas here. Thanks so much. (12+ / 0-)

    There was a power outage here last weekend.  The local supermarket had its backup generator going, but all of the refrigerated and frozen foods were declared losses.  A manager told us that in order to collect insurance on the lost inventory, the inventory would have to be trashed and could not be donated or even handed out the back door to the homeless.  What a waste.  The power had been off for only five hours at the time and much of the frozen food was certainly consumable, as were the cheeses.  

    Things are truly out of whack, and never count on these Republicans to solve any problems because making them is their true specialty.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:36:25 PM PDT

  •  Be very careful when growing food (11+ / 0-)

    Many American low-income areas, especially urban neighbourhoods, have high concentrations of lead and heavy metals in their soil. Lead, even at subclinical levels, may be implicated in learning and impulse control disorders and adolescent/young adult crime.

    Growing veggies and herbs indoors in water or potting soil is generally fine, but it's best to get your soil tested before growing them outside. The alternative is to mitigate the risk using well-drained raised beds or planters, but those can also be expensive.

    The rest of your suggestions are great :)

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:41:47 PM PDT

    •  I keep my garden well away from the house. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, Kevskos, marina, CroneWit

      And I wouldn't suggest anyone eat things grown close in to older houses, since most of them likely had lead paint on them at some point, which was scraped off and allowed to drop down into the soil when the houses were repainted.

      •  The paint isn't the major concern (5+ / 0-)

        I'm a bit sick and not up to researching sources at the moment, but lead in soil is closely correlated to proximity to roads that had heavy traffic during the period when leaded gasoline was used.

        Airborne lead particulates settled in the soil, and the resulting lead is very very hard to get rid of and is particularly common in older, denser parts of cities as well as strips of land near major highways.

        Living downwind of major industrial areas and airports can also be a problem, not just for lead but for other heavy metals and dangerous substances. Basically, the map of soil pollution looks an awful lot like the map of poverty in the US - all the places that were affected by 'white flight' and/or were always poor because of bad air quality and noise.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 07:10:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Leftover mashed potatoes, (10+ / 0-)

    when thinned more with milk, become potato soup.

    Heat with a little cheese, add a little onion powder, and add leftover bacon crumbled on the top when you serve it. Loaded baked potato soup.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:52:42 PM PDT

  •  I also save all carrot tops, celery leaves, etc. (13+ / 0-)

    in the freezer in a bag, and add this to the chicken bones when I make chicken stock.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:53:55 PM PDT

  •  Reminds Me I Saw the Budget Sardines aPlenty (6+ / 0-)

    in the Mexican food isle. They're large, in big tins almost a pound for 2 bucks & a quarter. That's a good source of healthy fish oil and protein rivaling the price of chicken. If used in a stew or other complex or spiced dish like say curry or obviously numerous mexican dishes, they break up and you don't get the classic strong sardine taste.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 03:59:27 PM PDT

  •  Sprout lentils - very, very easy to do and a rich (7+ / 0-)

    source of vitamins. Just ordinary off-the-shelf dried lentils are likely to sprout just fine. They're good in salads and on sandwichs and in stir fries. Fresh veggies in the middle of the winter with a zero carbon foot print and dead cheap.

    We use nearly over-ripe fruit to make fruit stuff - four parts fruit to one part sugar (or xylito) and cook briefly in the microwave. Mash or puree - it keeps in the frig for a while or in the freezer for a long time. Good with yogurt or as a puree over other fruit or in cooking or smoothies.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 04:04:22 PM PDT

  •  Dry bread of any sort (6+ / 0-)

    can be cooked with milk and an egg into bread pudding. I think the best stuff for it is leftover baking powder biscuits, personally. The classic flavorings are vanilla and cinnamon, but I've had fun before sprinkling some chocolate chips in or dried fruit.

    And that stuff I will eat cold in slices. Or, for the ultimate in decadence and fat content, sliced and fried brown on a griddle. (sigh of happy)

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 04:16:20 PM PDT

    •  Hmmm, you just made me wonder a bit. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, CroneWit

      When I have bacon, I microwave it to cook off a lot of the fat, and up til now I've just been using paper towels to soak it up.  I wonder if I put it over bread instead, and then fried the bread after, what it would end up like...

      (I tried saving my bacon grease one year to try and create my own 'suet' type of bird food cake, and it was a disaster.  The birds didn't like it at all, and when they were desperate enough to go after it, they merely dug the nuts and fruit out and left the congealed grease behind.)

  •  using potato eyes and onion tips and other (6+ / 0-)

    such tricks date back to the Depression and you can probably find discarded produce that has "gone to seed".  If you are into gardening, you can also buy dried seeds in the grocery store (Pinto beans by the lb for example) for much less than those little seed packets and grow your own veggies.  You also learn to save the seeds of various veggies before you cook them so you can later grow your own.  Just place the rescued seed on a paper towel on a window sill and wait for them to dry out before planting

  •  I'm for all of this, but I really wonder what (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, Kevskos, CroneWit

    percentage of Americans actually cooks from fresh fruit and veggies these days.  I know I went through a long period where I was basically eating processed foods day in and day out, and it took me a long time to get around to including more raw foods in my diet again.

    I'll try your green onion tip, I've been wanting to add those to my gardening repertoire anyway, and not even having to plant them seems easier yet.

    •  I do and always have. (3+ / 0-)

      I cook as my mom did and she is great for saving and economizing so I do most of these helpful ideas.  I cannot buy a prepared dish, frozen or otherwise.  I know what it takes to make food last a long time so I avoid it all.  It is nothing to make a meal from scratch.  It takes time to peal, dice or cut the ingredients but the cooking can be quick.  I think you are correct. People don't even know how to cook from scratch now.

      Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

      by tobendaro on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 05:22:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone can learn to cook from scratch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tobendaro

        The library has cookbooks that can teach even the most challenged cook to make good healthy meals from scratch.

        Soldiers and veterans are the reason we are able to argue about issues and to live in a free country. Let's not let their blood be wasted. Remember all gave some and some gave all. Honor their sacrifices.

        by Somegaveall on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:56:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  agree on this (6+ / 0-)

      I work at a major grocery chain and see what is in the grocery carts.  I am absolutely appalled and amazed at all the processed stuff that people buy.  

      I have actually had to explain to women in their 30's (estimated) how to cut up a fresh onion rather than buy frozen diced onions, how to cook rice instead of microwaving frozen rice, how to cook dried beans, how to boil potatoes to make mashed potatos, how to use a fresh head of lettuce rather than bagged salad.

      Some of this appears to be simple ignorance, as no one taught them how to do this, as witnessed by my impromptu cooking lessons.

      Some is lack of time, as I can tell from the exhausted looks on some women's faces.

      Then there is another group of people, the elderly who have trouble standing and walking.  I see them moving very slowly thru the store.  Some use canes, others walkers, use the grocery carts as walkers, or they use the electric carts.   If it is hard to stand and walk, how hard is it to cook, or get the groceries into the house?  Particularly on a fixed income?

      •  Generational food knowledge (0+ / 0-)

        I agree, madmommy, wit your observations about generational food knowledge.  My housing complex used to have a monthly delivery from the Food Bank, milk & bread, fruits & veg, tofu (which I had to explain often), but hardly any prepared foods or packaged foods.  The younger women just plain didn't recognize fruit/veggies that had to be cooked or processed before using.  The would take milk, eggs, bread, apples, bananas -- then look at the rest of the produce quizzically, sometimes asking how to use it.

      •  I was behind a woman in the store who (0+ / 0-)

        was complaining that the beans she baked were hard. I asked her how she cooked them. She put them in a pan with some ham and baked it for 2 hours. She forgot to add water.

        I often find people looking at the various bags of dried beans and such and have to explain how to use them.

        I have a whole bunch of cheap meals in my bag of tricks.

        Soldiers and veterans are the reason we are able to argue about issues and to live in a free country. Let's not let their blood be wasted. Remember all gave some and some gave all. Honor their sacrifices.

        by Somegaveall on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:58:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You forgot the extra (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OooSillyMe

    protein of the bugs in various items. I can remember being so broke that I strained out what I could and simply ate those I couldn't get out.

    I bet not one of our "public servants" would object to the poor having to eat bugs in their food.

    How come their pay and benefits never get cut when there's cuts to be made. And why if we're so short of money did they add billions in pork to the bill that reopened the government?

    Soldiers and veterans are the reason we are able to argue about issues and to live in a free country. Let's not let their blood be wasted. Remember all gave some and some gave all. Honor their sacrifices.

    by Somegaveall on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:45:50 AM PDT

  •  What you are calling "garbage" I call food (0+ / 0-)

    Or leftovers that will be use in other meals.

    Then again, I was raised very poor. We didn't throw away anything unless it was thoroughly rotten and totally inedible.

    I can remember seeing friends from middle class families not eating everything they had, and food being thrown away, and marveling at their waste.

    Then again, I now have to watch my weight, because I didn't learn to stop eating when full as a child, because back then I ate as much as I could because who knew when the next decent meal was coming? I had to learn not to stuff myself.



    Women create the entire labor force.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:33:34 PM PST

Click here for the mobile view of the site