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More Tips from Frugal Foodies

Nancy Trejos

A few days ago, I posted an item about throwing dinner parties on a budget. I got so many e-mails from readers offering their own tips that I’ve decided to share them with you.

From Leanne Guido in Virginia comes an interesting use of those condiment packets you probably have in your fridge from all the times you ordered Chinese food. She calls this recipe “Condiment Packets Pulled Pork”: Take two to three pounds of boneless country style ribs, which you can find on sale at local grocery stores for 99 cents a pound, and place it in a baking dish. Sprinkle the pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Mix two packets of hot mustard sauce with two packets of sweet and sour sauce and massage into both sides of the pork. Mix three packets of soy sauce and two packets of ketchup and pour over the pork. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 275 degrees for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove the foil and turn the pork. Re-cover and bake for another 90 minutes. Shred the pork with a fork and eat it as is or serve it on bread or rolls. You can also serve it with packets of barbeque sauce. It feeds three to four people. “You’d be amazed at what you can create with those little packets hanging out in the refrigerator,” she wrote.

Verna Suit had a good tip on bread crumbs. “When you have leftover or unwanted rolls, bread, crusts, or trims, put them in a cookie tin with the lid slightly ajar so air gets in but dust doesn't. When tin is full and bread is dry, grind it all in a food processor and store the crumbs in an airtight canister. Use as needed.”

Virginia Crespo of Millersville, Md., grew up with eight brothers and sisters and a mother whom she describes as the ultimate Frugal Foodie. “We loved to tease her about her beef stew,” Virginia said. “She always made this after a Sunday dinner of Blade Roast. The game we played was to see who could find the beef in the stew. There wasn't any!” Apparently, all the beef was eaten on Sunday, but her mother kept the broth and bone and fat to make a stock. She then added vegetables, noodles and dumplings to the stock. Virginia never lets any part of meat go to waste, thanks to her mother. “Now and then I like to have a special meal like ham. Whatever is left is used. I cut off any significant bits of ham and set them aside. All of the rest goes into a big pot and I cook it for a couple of hours. I strain the broth and use it as a base for split pea soup. At the end I cut up the reserved ham and put it in the soup. Any extra stock I freeze in one cup portions. I then freeze the soup in meal-size portions.”

Seth Koch of Northwest D.C. recommended using dried milk instead of regular milk as a creamer for your coffee. “Works just as well and costs a hell of a lot less,” he wrote. He also has a tip for saving tomato paste. Often you end up using just one tablespoon. Put whatever is leftover from the can in an ice cube tray and freeze it.

Geoff Thompson and Jo Kimball of Falls Church, Va., take advantage of “big buys” even though it is just the two of them. They separate the food into meal-size portions and freeze them. They also make things that most other people buy prepared. For instance, garlic and cheese croutons can cost $2.99 for a small package. For $1.50, Geoff and Jo get a baguette and make their own croutons using a recipe from the Joy of Cooking. “One third of the baguette yields two times the packaged product. They are simple to make and just as good,” they wrote.

Got any more tips? Please keep posting them!

By Nancy Trejos  |  April 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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