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Useful KitchenTips and Ideas to Save Money and Time

As a senior citizen & retired solicitor caring for my family & home, I've gathered lots of useful ideas to make life easier & save money

Organizing Your Activity in the Kitchen Can Save You Time, Money and Confusion

This article will give you useful ideas about food storage, including labelling containers, storing leftovers so you can find them again easily and even how to get the best flavour from your cheese.


1. Mark Your Containers and Matching Lids

How often have you looked for a plastic container in a hurry, but couldn't find a matching lid because there were several different shapes and sizes? Going through all your odd lids in order to find one that fits the plastic box and stores your food safely can be a bit of a nightmare.

You can overcome this problem by marking each container and lid with a similar letter, number or symbol, using a permanent marker. For example, write "A" on the outside base of a container. Then find the lid that fits it, and mark that with"A" too. Then go through all your oblong and round containers, matching them up to the appropriate lids. You should end up with several "A"s. Then go through the remaining ones, marking all similar containers and matching lids with "B", and so forth until you have no more containers with lids that match. You can throw the non-matching ones away, to save space and frustration.

Okay, the markings are not all that permanent after they have been in the dishwasher a few times, but you can always go over them again. I do this about every 2 months, and clear out the pieces which don't have matching counterparts.

Containers and Lids Appropriately Marked

Containers and Lids Appropriately Marked

2. Always Label the Food You Are Storing and Add the Date it Was Cooked

I keep some labels and a marker pen in one of my kitchen drawers and always like to list the main contents of the container so that it is easy to identify when it has been stored in the fridge or freezer.

Adding the date I cooked it is always helpful. If the food is stored in the fridge, you need to know how long you've got to eat it--I try to use all the food whilst it's at its best. If the food is stored in the freezer, it's good to know roughly how old it is, although I must confess I still eat food which was frozen more than a couple of years ago, as long as I know it has never become defrosted in the meantime, and is therefore safe to eat.

Label Your Containers

Describe the contents and date of cooking before putting the containers in the fridge or freezer

Describe the contents and date of cooking before putting the containers in the fridge or freezer

3. How to Save More Than One Portion in the Same Container

I often cook more than I need for one meal, in order to save time and effort. I then store the surplus in plastic containers. If it's something like stuffed aubergine cheese, or rice, it's useful to store a couple of portions in the same container.

You can separate the portions for easier serving either by drawing a line across them widthways and moving them apart, or, if this is not practical, you can put one serving in the container and then lay a strip of silver foil across it and place another portion on top of the foil. This can then be frozen, with the added benefit of being able to separate the two portions easily.

Separate Your Frozen Portions Using Tinfoil

The tinfoil will stop the portions sticking together, making it easier to use them one at a time

The tinfoil will stop the portions sticking together, making it easier to use them one at a time

4. Save Money By Buying 4 to 6 Pints of Milk and Freezing Half of It

Buying milk in bulk can reduce the cosr of each pint by almost a third. Many's the time I've done just that, but after storing it in the fridge for a week or more, the tell-tale signs of floating lumps in my tea, or a yogurt-like solid at the bottom of the container signify that the milk has gone off, and is only now useful as a pathetic yogurt substitute.

The obvious way round this is to freeze any milk that you are unlikely to use within about 5 days. I store a few smaller thorooughly washed out plastic bottles for this purpose. I say "thoroughly" because you don't want any milky residue in them turning the milk sour.

You need to be aware that frozen milk expands, so make sure you leave enough space at the top of the bottle so that the lid is not blown off. Also, if the bottle has a handle, it's best to keep the handle facing upwards, so that it is not completely filled with frozen milk. The way to freeze the milk is therefore at a slight angle whillst it is still liquid. Then, once it has frozen, you can lay it flat on it's side for easy storage.

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Freeze the Milk Slightly Upright in the Freezer

Once frozen, you can lay the milk on its side, so that it takes up less room

Once frozen, you can lay the milk on its side, so that it takes up less room

5. Cheese Tastes Better at Room Temperature

Cheese is part of a staple diet in my family. We rarely buy just one type at a time, and usually my fridge is stocked with several varieties, including cheddar, Wensleydale cheese with cranberries, camembert, blue cheese, halloumi, manchego, emmenthal, gouda, epoisse and/or goats milk cheese.

I keep a covered cheese dish next to my fridge, and keep one or two types of cheese in it for a couple of days, sometimes more. This brings out the flavour, and I do love strong cheese, but you do have to keep an eye on it, to make sure it doesn't go off, i.e. get mouldy. You have to be particularly careful with camembert, as little white maggots may start to appear after a few days. My father used to say that camembert is at its best when you can see the first maggots wriggling, but most people would not agree with this!

6. Keep a List of the Contents in Your Freezer

I keep an A-4 sized list of everything in my freezer, categorized into meat and fish and ready-made meals in one column (and which have all been placed on the upper shelf), and then a category for vegetables, and another for fruit and sweets (which are on the lower shelf).

I have a fridge magnet, and stick the list on the side of the fridge, and I keep a biro pen nearby, so that I can amend the list when items are removed or added to the freezer. It's very handy to know precisely what is in there and makes meal-planning a lot easier than just having to guess or go through everything by having a physical search and pulling lots of items out to inspect them.

7. Use Vegetable and Fruit Peel, Tea and Coffee Bags to Fertiize Your Plants

If you have any fruit or vegetable scraps after preparing a meal, save them in a container, add any tea-leaves and coffee grouts and, when there are enough, put them in a blender with water, and blend into a thick liquid. Then pour the mixture around your plants as a natural plant feed.


8. Use Your Eggshells in the Garden

Save your eggshells, and then, when you have a few, crush them into fairly small pieces and sprinkle them liberally round the base of any plants that are especially attractive to slugs and snails--they dislike anything that scratches their bodies, so tend to leave those areas alone. In my garden, they can ruin hostas and newly planted vegetables in one night. Sometimes I can go out in the early morning and catch up to a hundred of the little blighters, which I then kill off. But keeping them away from certain areas does protect the plants.

The simplest way to crush the eggshells is to crumble them with your hands, which you can protect by wearing rubber gloves or gardening gloves.

Videos of More Kitchen Tips

There are loads on YouTube. I've picked the two below because they are very popular, the first one short and the other long--take a look.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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