Ways to save making your own convenience foods

Southern Cents: Eau deSweat

by Tina Shake

It has been warm. I don't have to tell you that, but I felt the need, as I came in from planting my new spring flowers. The neighbor children ran off screaming for their mama, and the dog put his tail between his legs as I slowly made my way for the house. I never figured out if it was my appearance that made them run or the perfume drifting lazily through the air (le gardin ala sweat). Yes my shirt was a little wet, and my husband did have to wring out the kitchen mop a few times while following after me, but hey, was it really that bad? What I needed was a nice cold glass of iced tea. No need to boil that tea, I made tea concentrate the night before in the fridge. I will tell you one thing, I didn't buy into that marketing ploy of buying the 'new ice tea bags'. You see I am old enough to remember 'sun tea' and 'refrigerator tea. Sun tea is a process in which you put tea bags into a glass container and set it into the sun to let it naturally steep. To make refrigerator tea, one needs only drop a few tea bags into a clear glass quart jar of water and let set overnight. The tea will permeate that water and make a delicious concentrate. By the next morning all you would need to do is to put sugar (a cup or so) into a gallon pitcher along with some very warm water (to dissolve the sugar), pour the concentrate into the pitcher and then simply finish filling the pitcher with water. Stir the contents please.

Being the cheap cherub that I am, I starting investigating other ways to save involving food. Have you seen the applesauce cups that are marketed toward children? I noticed this weekend that the grocery stores are carrying applesauce in little cups that tastes like watermelon and various other flavors. These are expensive, but kids are going bonkers over them. Guess what folks? Take your applesauce, divide it up into small containers and add a tiny bit of koolaid and sugar and you have the same thing. The savings is tremendous since the flavored applesauce was nearly $3.00 for a few cups.

I love garlic bread and so do my children. Garlic bread is not that expensive but I can still save money by buying day old hot dog buns. Once you split those buns, spread butter with garlic salt over the top and broil. Mini garlic loaves are a hit. Don't stop there, be brave my friends, add a little pizza sauce and cheese. The result is a nice inexpensive lunch for the kiddies. Yes life is good.

Some people like fresh grated cheese in recipes and salads. One problem with grating cheese yourself is that alot of cheese gets wasted because it sticks to the grater. Solution: spray the grater with Pam cooking spray first.

Are you one of those people who actually marinate their meat? I have read that it makes a world of difference in the taste of cheaper cuts of meat as well as chicken breast etc and even though I have known about this technique for years I have not done it. Why? Well I was under the mistaken impression that I would have to buy a chef's hat and aquire an accent that belongs to a foreign country and them my family would be selling reservations for nightly meals. Too much responsibility and goodness, why possum would never be the same again. I have been educated. Did you know that when you are freezing your meat that you could put your marinade with the cuts in a freezer bag, thereby marinating the meat effortlessly while it defrosted at a later date? I wasn't aware and now I am taking the plunge. By the way, we are not taking reservations, the liability insurance is much too expensive.

Tina Shake, mother of two sons (24 and 15 years) and one daughter (18 years) and grandmother to a 13 month old, is a freelance consumer writer from Southern Indiana.

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