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Introduction to Total Product Utilization in the Home Kitchen.


Part of being a great cook is inspired. By what you might say? It's not my first post along these lines. In these times of crazy inflation, we have to watch our food budgets. That begins with taking inventory. You should be doing this every time before going shopping.


The last month or so, I have been doing a lot of home cooking. Largely because it's a great time of year to make pickles, preserves and other such things. Basically so we can have them for later. It's also a good time to take a freezer inventory before restocking your protein supplies before winter. Maybe consider a little less meat this year, and more fish as alternative protein sources. Beans, legumes and grains are much more economical and have a better shelf life than meat.


Back to inspiration. Necessity is the mother of invention, I believe that's how it goes. Some of the greatest pasty and culinary innovations have been the result of mistakes. Here are a few examples;


CRÊPES SUZETTE

Many accidental food inventions were created during service time at restaurants — and for 14-year-old Henri Charpentier, his accidental food mistake went out in a literal blaze of glory. In 1895, at Monte Carlo’s Cafe de Paris, Henri apparently prepared a dessert for the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). The Prince was accompanied by a group of friends, including a woman named ‘Suzette’.


TARTE TATIN

This happy accident was created by sisters, Caroline and Stéphanie Tatin, who owned and ran the hotel, Lamotte-Beuvron, in France. One day during service, Stéphanie, who did most of the cooking at the hotel, was overworked. She intended to make a traditional apple pie, but left the apples cooking in the butter and sugar for too long. In an attempt to salvage the dessert, she plonked a pastry base on top of the caramelised apples and popped it back in the oven for a blind-bake. Once ready, she turned the tart upside down, just in time for service. Patrons loved the dessert so much that the sisters decided to keep it on the menu.


Chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache was created in the 1850s at the old Parisian bakery Maison Siraudin, when an apprentice chocolate-maker poured boiling cream into chocolate. Considered the error of a “ganache” (a word used to describe a chump), the resulting concoction took on this name, but it was a brilliant mistake—its texture makes it usable in a variety of applications, such as the base for chocolate truffles, or the decadent filling for a chocolate tart.


There's many more stories like this, which leads me to believe that mistakes are often the mother of invention...lol


HOME ECONOMICS

Have you ever gone over your budget only to find you’ve overspent on food? With food being the highest costs behind housing and transportation, our food choices have a huge impact on our budget.

Before you figure out what you should be spending on food, it’s important to figure out what you are spending on food. Keep grocery store receipts to get a realistic picture of your current spending habits. It might help to break down spending by category (via a spreadsheet or on paper), including beverages, produce, etc. Once you’ve done this, you can get an idea of where you need to trim down your grocery bill.


Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 13% increase in food spending in the U.S. — a jump driven by rising purchases on dining out. Avoiding eating out where possible can help reduce your overall food spending. If you’re actively dating or enjoy restaurants with friends, be sure to factor eating away from home into your food budget — and stick to your limit.

So don't worry about it, have fun! You might be the next creative culinary genius. So where am I going with this? Basically, check what's already available and needs to be used before going shopping. Create a 2-3 day menu plan, based on this, then go shopping. Shop at least 2-3 times a week. Preferably at least once at a farmer's market. Support local!


It’s much easier to stick to a budget when you have a plan. Plus, having a purpose for each grocery item you buy may help ensure nothing goes to waste or just sits in your pantry unused. Don’t be afraid of simple salads or meatless Mondays — not every meal has to be a gourmet experience.


Keep a magnetized grocery list on your fridge so that you can replace items as needed. This can help you buy food you know you’ll eat. Sticking to a list in the grocery store may help you stay accountable and not spend money on processed or pricey items.


Another way to avoid wasting food is to freeze things that look like they’re about to go bad. Fruit that’s past its prime can be frozen and used in smoothies. Make double batches of soups, sauces and baked goods so you’ll have an alternative to ordering takeout when you don’t feel like cooking.


Need more ideas on how to save on your food bill? Here are some additional tips that can help.

  • Choose generic — One survey found that 50% of people said opting for generic products over name brand helped them save on groceries.

  • Drink more water — Recent data found that 17% of consumers cut back on purchasing beverages at the store due to rising inflation. Drinking more water may help you save what you would’ve otherwise spent on beverages.

  • Pay with cash — Try going to the grocery store with cash — and only what you’ve budgeted for. Leave your credit or debit card at home. After all, you can’t spend what you can’t pay for.

  • Buy what’s in season — Food prices can vary depending on whether they are in season or not. When foods are out of season, they may be scarce — and therefore more expensive. Try to stick to buying foods that are in season.

  • Grow your own herbs — Herbs at your local grocery store might sometimes be expensive. Growing your own is one way to cut back on your grocery bill.

  • Plan a meatless meal — Beef prices increased for three years straight from 2020 to 2022, and the USDA predicts other meat categories will rise in price in 2023. By planning a meatless meal every so often, you may be able to save some money on your grocery bill.

  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat — Not all cuts of meat cost the same. You may be able to save money by choosing chicken thighs over chicken breasts, ground chuck over sirloin and pork loin over pork chops.

  • Ask for a discount — This won’t always work, but if you notice your food is close to expiring, ask the cashier for a discount. You may be able to save yourself a few dollars.

  • Learn how to preserve food — If you have some fruit that’s going bad in your home, you may be able to preserve it by making and canning jam. Hopefully the more food you can save in your home, the less you’ll need to buy at the store.

  • Keep a running tally while you shop — Jotting down the prices of items you put in your cart or quickly crunching the numbers in your phone’s calculator can help you stay more aware of how much you’re spending.

  • Buy canned food — Canned food is often less expensive than fresh foods, so buying canned could stretch your food budget.

  • Shop sales — If you notice a food you often eat goes on sale, stock up if you have room in your budget. While you may spend more than you normally would up front, you’ll save yourself from having to purchase the item at full price in the future.

  • Use rebate apps — Some apps provide cash back on certain purchases. Check to see if the items you need to buy at your next shopping trip may qualify.

  • Sign up for your store’s loyalty program — Some grocery stores have points or loyalty programs that can provide you with extra discounts when you shop.

Another thing I might add, is to improve and elevate your cooking abilities. There might be some costs involved, but educating yourself with proper cooking techniques will pay off in the end. At Dinner Thyme we offer a comprehensive recipe database and several online courses to get you going...and you won't have to take a second mortgage!


Cheers, and have a great weekend!

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