I've learned a few useful food preparation ideas working in a Japanese restaurant. So, I wonder, what other good ideas have the Dollar Stretcher readers learned from professional cooks?
Rose B, mother of three, in NC
Always store cottage cheese and sour cream upside down in the refrigerator to create a vacuum, and they will last for weeks. This is also works for spaghetti sauce in jars.
In the old days, pickles were used to stretch food at meals. It was not unusual to have seven or eight different pickles at a meal at my great grandmothers home. Recently, I've gotten into pickling again, for health, wealth, and weight control. You don't have to do a lot of work if you have extra room in the fridge. Just buy sugar, allspice, dill weed, garlic, salt, and cider vinegar. Use old butter containers for storage. Prepare pickles according to an old recipe in your family's cookbook, or a commercial cookbook. Skip sterilization and just refrigerate.
It's a good way to use food you might waste otherwise. I often buy canned veggies and pickle them. Some I've pickled recently: watermelon rind, peaches, cherry tomatoes, beets, onions, green peppers, boiled eggs. These are great to have when you need a snack, but don't want fat or high sugar.
This isn't exactly about food, but it's close - dishes! When my uncle owned a restaurant, the Health Department told him it was illegal to dry dishes with towels, because it was so unsanitary. He had to air-dry them after their steaming bath, and then put them away. Since learning this, I've air-dried my own dishes at home to cut down on germs. Why take the chance of drying a clean dish with a towel that recently may have been on the floor or used to wipe up a spill?
I saw this on a cooking show on TV. When I tried it, I was amazed how well it works. To peel a garlic clove, lay a chef's knife blade over it on its side. Like you're covering it, not like you're cutting it. Then hit the flat of the blade with your fist. Be careful not to hit the edge of the blade. This splits the clove and the peel comes right off.
My favorite tip for preparing natural foods and making it easier is to do it right away. After I get home from the grocery store I wash and spin dry all the lettuce and put it in plastic bags. Then I cut up broccoli, cauliflower, peppers etc. and put them in their own bags. If I get a good deal on green peppers some go straight into the freezer, as well as any brown bananas after they have been peeled.
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