Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Using a Food Processor to Maximize your Grocery Budget

I LOVE my food processor. Although it is not a tool that I use every day, it is a tool I am so thankful for whenever I do use it. It was a Christmas gift from my Mom and Dad (before I was even married) and I still thank them every so often for such a great gift—it is so much more appreciated now that we live on one income.

I use my processor to make things like my homemade enchilada sauce (yes, it is more work, but it tastes SO much better and is better for you!) and my frugal pesto. I also used my processor to make homemade baby food when our daughter was starting on solids. That in and of itself probably saved us hundreds of dollars!

I wanted to share with you a couple of lessor known tips to maximize the use of your food processor as well as your food budget.

The first is with chipotle peppers. Don’t you just love the flavor they give? I know we do at our house! The problem is that the smallest amount you can buy is a seven ounce can and most recipes call for maybe a tablespoon at best. That leaves you with about nine tenths of a can of chipotles leftover. What to do?

When you bring the can home, simply puree the whole can in your food processor. Then measure out tablespoon sized portions on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and stick it in your freezer. Once the portions are frozen solid, remove from the wax paper and stick them in a freezer grade zip top bag and store in your freezer until you are ready to use.

And friends, label the bag. My Mom had a friend that didn’t label hers and her husband was searching for goodies in the freezer and he came across the pre-portioned chipotle peppers. He thought they were cookies. Need I go any further? Anyhow, now you have chipotle peppers whenever you need them without the waste, mess, or fuss! Use them to flavor your favorite salsas, soups or any Mexican or Tex Mex cuisine!

Another great way is using the food processor to make your own breadcrumbs. Sometimes I am really good and make my own bread. Other times though, I give in and buy sandwich bread at the store. (I know, shameful, right? I am so kidding!) Either way, the ends of the bread loaves are not my favorite. I mean, I’ll eat them, but if I can avoid it, I will. At the same time however, I don’t like throwing food away, so I save up the ends of the bread.

At any given time, you’ll probably find 2-3 bread bags in the freezer—with just the two ends/heels of bread. I let them accumulate and then process them all at once in the food processor to make bread crumbs. You simply place an end/heel of bread in the processor and process away. It doesn’t take more than 5-10 seconds and you have instant bread crumbs! In addition, you can also slather butter on your piece of bread—this is how I usually do it—and do the same thing.

Process for 5-10 seconds and you have instant buttered bread crumbs. You can use these in recipes like homemade mac & cheese or Parmesan chicken. If you want the crumbs dried out first (for something like a meatloaf), simply process without any butter and then place on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in a low heat oven, about 250 degrees.

Dried, buttered, or not, once you are done, you can store them in a zip top bag in the freezer, for easy, (nearly no cost!) bread crumbs.

This last tip isn’t so much about frugality with pennies, but frugality with time. Who doesn’t want to save time in the kitchen? When you are making something that either calls for a bunch of chopped garlic OR you are making something in the processor that calls for minced garlic (like in my grilled salsa), do this: Drop your peeled cloves of garlic through the feed tube with the processor already running. It will mince your garlic for you and save you the tedious task of mincing it.

Just make sure to do this at the start of your recipe, as it won’t work if you already have a mixture in the processor. The cloves need to be able to “bounce around” with the blade running. And trust me, it works like a charm every time!


Jackie has been married to the love of her life for seven years. She “retired” from the banking industry after 11 years to become a stay-at-home-mom when their daughter was born three years ago. She loves cooking, trying out new recipes, and most of all making a home for her family. You can read more about her adventures (domestic and otherwise) at Loving My Domestic Life.


Johnlyn ~ Frugality and Homemaking said...

Oh I love love love the peppers tip! Fabulous idea!

I will have to copy that soon.

Thanks for sharing.

Jodi said...

What a great idea to butter the bread before processing! I've always used a blender to make bread crumbs, but a food processor is a much better idea--I will do that next time!

Robert said...

My crew likes the "Simply Potatoes" In stores.

It is Simply a potato placed in food processor.

So many items are like this you just have to pay attention and use what you have.

Robert said...

My crew love the "simply potatoes"

All it is Shredded Potato

So using the food processor and pay attention to how you can stretch food.

The food processor is the number one tool to help in the kitchen.

This time of year it is Potato
Squash, Pumpkin, Zucchini.

Let's all help each other out share recipes etc...

The Potato Shredded is a favorite at my home and they throw everything in with it!