By: Leanne Ely
Ladies, are you suffering from OCS? Old Condiment Syndrome? You know what I’m talking about. Crusty ketchup bottles, icky, old Ranch dressing and ancient mustard?
We all have as many condiments as we do cleaning supplies. FlyLady says she knows what’s lurking under your sinks (more cleaning supplies than a janitorial service needs). Well, I know what you have in your refrigerator doors. Fossilized condiments! And more than a busy hotdog stand in New York City needs, too!
Did you know the refrigerated shelf life for mayonnaise is two months? It is! So guess what? Today is the day you get to toss that stuff and get a new one. Listen, if you don’t use it often enough, buy a smaller jar. Even though it costs more money, it really is the cheaper way to go. You don’t need nasty old mayo in your fridge!
Here are some more items you probably have languishing in the doors of your fridge or way in the back:
1—Mustard. Not just the yellow kind, but Dijon, honey mustard, brown mustard and that teeny, tiny jar of gourmet mustard from the gift basket you received over the holidays with the funky taste. No one likes it, but instead of throwing it out, you put it in the fridge. Why? Toss it! Shelf life: 6-8 months in the fridge; 2 years unopened in a pantry.
2—Jams and Jellies. The other day, I pulled out a raspberry jam that had a “best used by” date of 4/5/12. YIKES! I bet you have some of those too! Time to chuck them as well! Shelf life: 1 year in the fridge; 1 year unopened in the pantry.
3—Salad Dressings. A lot of commercial salad dressings have enough preservatives in them to embalm you. However, nothing lasts forever. If they’ve been opened for more than 3 months in the fridge, they’ve gotta go too. Unopened, they’ll last a year in your pantry.
4—Pickles. I think I’ve had the same jar of pickles in my fridge since I’ve had the raspberry jam. The issue for pickles is they don’t last as long as jam in the fridge! Only 1-2 months opened and in the fridge. For the pantry shelf? One year unopened. Time to boogie your pickles!
5—Ketchup. I don’t even want to know how old my ketchup is. Let’s just say probably from the same era as the pickles and the raspberry jam. Truth is, it’s only good for about 2 months in the fridge. Unopened and on the pantry shelf, it can last a year before it needs tossing.
6—Salsa and Hot Sauce. Guess what? Once your hot sauce or salsa is opened, it’s good for just a month in the fridge! Don’t wait for it to mold; throw it OUT! Unopened, it’s good for a year on your pantry shelf.
7—Olives. Oh yes, I confess. My olives are refrigerator pals with the jam, ketchup and pickles! Out they go today…they only last a month opened in the fridge. They’ll last a year unopened in your pantry though!
Well, that’s quite a condemning list, isn’t it? The question is how to know how old everything is? One rule of thumb if there is no date on the jar or package and if you don’t remember when you opened it, it’s probably a good idea to toss it.
How can you avoid Old Condiment Syndrome? By marking your condiments on the label with a Sharpie (it will hold up to the refrigeration without smudging or smearing) with the date so you know. You might want to keep this list handy too in your Control Journal so you know how long to keep these items.
Last thoughts on this and then you can go cure the OCS in your fridge: unless you have a huge family or you’re an overly zealous condiment using family, it’s probably best to stick with supermarket sized condiments as opposed to the jumbo sized stuff that they sell in those warehouse stores. Bigger isn’t always better.
Have fun tossing!
Sometimes you feel like an expired condiment…tired and old. 🙁 But it doesn’t have to be that way–the 21 Day Knock Out begins MONDAY! The only thing missing is YOU!
By: Leanne Ely
Everyone’s concerned about watching the grocery budget these days, and rightly so! Food costs are climbing, and there’s no sign of this trend stopping anytime soon.
I’m often met with resistance when I talk about eating nutritious foods (especially as part of a Paleo lifestyle) because people claim they can’t afford to eat healthy.
To be honest, it can seem expensive at first, especially if you’re looking at the $15 package of chicken breasts when you know you can buy a frozen lasagna for $5 that will easily feed your family of four.
I could sit here all day and tell you that eating a healthy diet will pay for itself in spades in the long run, but the fact is, we only have so much money to spend on food.
So, the following tips will help you stretch your grocery budget, even if you’re a Paleoista.
Purchase ingredients and not packages. Stop looking for the healthiest granola bars or gluten-free brownies on the shelf. Instead, buy ingredients to make your own healthy snacks (Blending a banana and some Medjool dates tastes like a homemade Larabar!). Or, even better, eat nature’s own snack foods by eating whole foods like apples, berries and seeds. Same thing goes for foods like almond flour—if it comes in a bag, there’s a chance you can make your own. If you have a good food processor, buy some natural almonds in bulk and ground them into flour. If it’s a really good machine, you can make your own almond butter and almond milk, too! Make your own condiments. If you aren’t Paleo, but want to eat healthier buy organic corn kernels for your weekly movie night. Purchase dried beans instead of canned, and cook them yourself. See where I’m going with this? Stop looking for convenience because convenience is expensive, y’all!
Buy frozen fruits and veggies in bulk. Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh, and it’s much more affordable to purchase frozen than it is fresh. I always suggest people buy enough fresh produce like lettuce, asparagus, broccoli and zucchini to use at the beginning of the week, and then have frozen on hand for the last part of the week. This stretches the budget a bit and allows for less food spoilage.
Rethink your meat purchases. Protein is expensive, but there are ways to save money in the meat department. Buy whole chickens, and cut them into pieces yourself rather than buying the more expensive chicken pieces where the work has been done for you. When it comes to beef, choose less expensive cuts and learn how to cook them properly. Those cheap cuts can be the tastiest if you cook them low and slow by braising or stewing them.
An even better way to save on meat costs is to get together with some neighbors and see about sharing the cost of a whole cow or pig to put in your freezers. It seems like an expensive purchase up front, but it will pay for itself over the course of 6 months or so!
Know what needs to be bought organic. Shop according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to ensure you’re eliminating the greatest amount of pesticides from your diet without going broke to do so. You can see an updated list at ewg.org, where you’ll learn that potatoes and apples should always be purchased organic (so if your budget doesn’t allow for those items, buy conventionally grown sweet potatoes and mangoes instead).
Stop splurging. Look for unnecessary items in your cart and remove them! You don’t really need to spend $4 on bottled water. You also don’t need those individual coffee pods. Take a good look at your home and see which nonessential items you are wasting your money on (this includes junk food and “treats”).
Stick to the list! Make a meal plan at the beginning of each week and make your shopping list according to that plan. At the store, stick to the list. Being prepared like this, having a list that corresponds to the meals you need to make for dinner each day, also prevents trips to the grocery store throughout the week to pick up a missing ingredient.
Thousands of people depend on our New Dinner Answers program to do this work for them, and I believe the low monthly subscription rate pays for itself in the first week when you don’t have to run to the store for anything! With Dinner Answers, you know what meals you’re making every evening, and you get a shopping list to take with you to the store. It saves time and money! Oh, and because the meals have been developed by a nutritionist (yours truly), you know they’re healthy AND delicious.
A lifestyle of poor diet and lack of exercise kills about 400,000 Americans every year—that’s as many who have died from smoking, can you imagine?? And that’s only Americans—this number does not count the rest of the world that eats poorly and neglects to exercise! YIKES!
It’s a tough world out there and today’s grocery store is no exception. Here are some tips to navigate the grocery store successfully and buy the healthy foods you need and avoid the unhealthy ones that could kill you! Healthy foods don’t need to bankrupt you or make you spend untold hours in the kitchen. Here are some tips for getting healthy happening in your kitchen today:
1) Fast Food. Look for stuff that is fast and easy to make, like sweet potatoes (stab, bake, eat). Cheap eats, massively good for you and filling.
2) Go Green. Baby spinach is fast-food friendly too. Not as cheap as sweet ‘taters, but worth the cost of admission! I like mine stir-fried (little bit of olive oil and lotsa garlic!) and in salads.
3) Brown Rice. You can make a vat of this stuff (if you’re not eating Paleo that is), scoop into individual freezer bags and freeze for later use if time is of the essence. Having a box of quick cooking brown rice at home isn’t a bad idea either, but the long cooking stuff is much less expensive.
4) Grow Your Own. Having a veggie garden is a lot easier than you think. Check out www.squarefootgardening.com for a plan for nearly everyone!
5) Thirst Out. Water is about as economical as it can get. If you want clean and fresh water, check out different water purifiers and start pile driving the water. Cheaper than anything else you can drink!
6) Seasonal Stuff. Buy in season (summer is the time to find cheap watermelon, not the middle of winter), buy locally when at all possible and buy organically if you can.
7) Garlic and Onions. Very inexpensive and will ratchet up the flavor and potency of nearly anything you make, not to mention the antioxidant factors as well. Keep them on hand!
8) Read Labels. And remember, if you have to spend 10 minutes deciphering a food’s label with unpronounceable chemical additives and you have no earthly idea what they are, your body doesn’t know what they are either. Not only that, but you’re going to pay for those expensive chemicals at the cash register and in your own health. Skip anything with fake colors, flavorings or “flavor enhancers”…they all ROB you of your health!
9) Eat your veggies. Go heavy on the veggies. In the summer, we have fresh tomato sauce on zucchini “pasta” with chopped fresh oregano. You can throw in a cooked chicken breast and you have a complete meal. I grow tomatoes, zucchini and oregano in my garden and the whole meal is divine!
10) Beans, Beans. A healthy, yet frugal food, (skip this tip if you eat strictly Paleo) dried beans need to be soaked, cooked and then can be made into a multitude of cheap eats, from soups to chilis to salad.
Don’t become a statistic and please don’t think healthy food is out of your reach or budget! It’s not hard, it’s enjoyable and the cool thing about eating healthy, grown in the ground food is you always know what you’re eating—no labels necessary!
PS – Want to make grocery shopping even easier? Check out Dinner Answers to make your meal planning and shopping list in a flash!
By: Leanne Ely
Who doesn’t want to save a bit of time in the kitchen or a bit of money on the grocery bill?
The following ten kitchen tricks will make your life a little bit easier. And they’re so simple, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of them yourself!
Save the tears. Cut onions without crying by lighting a candle beside you as you’re chopping. You might also find that holding a toothpick between your front teeth helps to stop those onion tears.
Split up the bunch. You can get twice as much life out of your bananas by separating the bananas from the bunch when you get them home!
Prevent cheese hardening. If you want to prevent your block cheese from getting hard around the edges, rub some butter on the cut edge and wrap the block in paper towel before wrapping in plastic or storing in a reusable container.
Extend lettuce life. Store a piece of paper towel in your lettuce container. It will absorb the moisture that causes lettuce to wilt.
Slice a potato in no time. Use that apple slicer in your drawer for making short work of turning a potato into wedges!
Peel with a spoon. Ginger is very nubbly and difficult to peel. Use a spoon to gently remove the peeling from fresh ginger.
Sample your meat. When you’re making a sauce, you can taste for seasoning as you go, but not so much with meatloaf or meatballs. If you’re trying a new recipe with your ground meat, fry a little bit on top of the stove so you can see if it suits your taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary!
Keep your rinds. Don’t throw away your parmesan rinds. Save them in a bag in the freezer and add them to soups and stews for a great cheesy flavor. Simply add the rind 20-30 minutes before your dish is finished.
Enlist the help of your shells. When you get a bit of egg shell in with your egg yolks and whites, instead of chasing it around the bowl with a spoon, use another piece of egg shell to help scoop it out. The bit of run-away shell will be attracted to the shell you’re scooping with.
Pre-freeze your meat. Make it easy on yourself when you’re slicing chicken, pork or beef for your stir-fry. Simply freeze the meat for a half hour or so before you cut it. Your knife go through the meat more easily when it’s slightly frozen.
For a bonus tip, if your bananas have gone overripe on you, peel them, pop them in a freezer bag and freeze them. Use your frozen bananas to thicken and sweeten up your smoothies!
By: Leanne Ely
We’re only a day away from one of the biggest dinners of the year. (It seems like we were just enjoying our Thanksgiving dinners, doesn’t it?)
If you didn’t manage your Thanksgiving dinner properly, you might have (gasp) ended up growing sick of the leftovers. Let’s see to it that you enjoy the remnants of your Christmas dinner until the *very* last bite!
The following leftover ideas will help you to ensure that you enjoy what’s left of your next big holiday feast.
Turkey carcass broth. Once you strip the turkey of its delicious meat, don’t you dare through the carcass away. Roast that sucker and turn it into a delicious soup (or stew).
Christmas Hash. Fry up some bacon in a large skillet. When the fat has rendered, add diced onions. When those are tender, add your leftover shredded turkey. Once that warms up, add something green like spinach, kale or whatever you have leftover, for some nutrition. When it’s warmed through, add salt an pepper and serve.
Turkey Curry. There is no rule that says turkey can’t be used in place of chicken in a curry. What a wonderful change that will be from all that traditional holiday food!
Turkey salad or stir-fry. Fix a large green salad and top it with shredded leftover turkey. Or in your next stir-fry, use turkey as the protein.
Alice Johnston’s Fabulous Thanksgiving Pie. One of our favorite holiday traditions is this wonderful leftover pie.
• Leftover gravy, heated
• Leftover turkey, chopped
• Leftover stuffing/dressing
• Leftover mashed potatoes
• Leftover veggies
• Leftover cranberries
• Preheat 375 degrees.
In an 8 to 9 inch pie pan, press the leftover stuffing into a bottom to make a pie shell of sorts. Next, make a layer of potatoes, then veggies. Add the chopped turkey to the heated gravy and mix well. Pour that turkey mixture into the middle of your pie and put it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or so until completely heated through. Serve with leftover cranberries. YUM!
No matter how you have your leftovers, enjoy the food and the time with your family.