Wednesday, February 10, 2010


These two kitchen money savers are super simple.  I can't believe I've never done this before.

First, I had a loaf of bread not rise properly about a week ago.  I didn't know what to do with it.  It was about 3 or 4 inches high - not really big enough for toast, but I didn't want to waste it.  We've been eating a lot more salads lately, so I decided to turn my perfectly-fine-except-it's-a-little-shallow bread into salad croutons.  You could use day old bread for this, too.  Just freeze it until you have enough to make a batch of croutons (about 4 cups).

The first thing I had to do was cube my bread up.  Then I chopped up 4 cloves of garlic in the food processor (a garlic press would be great) and mixed it with 2/3 c. of olive oil.  Use the cheap stuff here  (not virgin).  I actually used grapeseed oil because I didn't have regular olive oil. I really don't think the type of oil that you use is vitally crucial.

Pour the oil/garlic mixture over your bread cubes to cover completely, but not saturate. A few of mine got saturated and it was fine.  I just squeezed the excess oil out and cooked them for a little longer.

Lay your bread cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you wish.

Bake for about 10 minutes on 275 degrees, turning a couple of times, until dry.

I got 2 pans worth of croutons out of my mis-shapen loaf.  I stored them in canning jars.  It yieled about one and a half quarts.  Free and a little healthier than what I would buy in the store.

Next up:

I regulary make a couple of different soups that both call for a can of Great Northern Beans.  They aren't always easy for me to find at every store.  When I do, I pay between 89 cents to a dollar per can.

Last week, I saw a large bag of dried Great Northern Beans at Dollar General Market.  I don't remember if it was a 2 or 3 pound bag.  I just remember paying $1.75.

I sorted the beans and soaked them yesterday.  Then, last night before I went to bed I threw them in the crock pot with about an inch of water to cover and cooked them on low all night.  This morning when I woke up the kitchen smelled so yummy and the beans were done.  I unplugged the pot, then after they were cool I drained them.  I put 1 cup worth (what you get in a can) each in freezer bags.

I have 11 bags here just waiting to be put into the freezer.  That is the equivalent of 11 cans of beans for $1.75.  Plus, I have the added benefit of knowing exactly what went in them and the ability to control the sodium content.

The next time I'm ready to add Great Northern Beans to soup - all I have to do is grab a bag out of the freezer.

I am going to eliminate buying canned beans of every variety from our pantry and do them all this way from now on.

Both of these examples cost me very little effort or time in the kitchen but rewarded me with big savings - both financially and health wise.  That definitely works for me.

I'm linking this post up to Works for Me Wednesday.

Happy Homemaking!


Christy said...

Those are two of my favorite kitchen tips! Using beans this way eliminates the BPA you would get from the can too.

Jelli Bean said...

I always buy dried beans. They taste just as yummy with just a bit more fuss. Besides, the fact that you can have a bean soup ready in minutes, after thawing some frozen beans in liquid, means company is welcome anytime.

Tawna said...

That's an AWESOME TIP! :-)

Becky said...

That's a great tip. It works well for all types of beans...and rice, and pasta, and whatever else most of us could likely use to make 'quick' dinners. I needed a little something extra for some yummo homemade chicken soup when we found out company was coming over at the last minute, so I tossed in a bag of frozen leftover ww pasta spirals...perfect!

Nothing beats homemade!

Anonymous said...

Seriously, I am gonna have to do this. Esp now that we have 3 more mouths to feed.

My daughter really liked croutons. We are gonna try it.