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REVIEW of Health 05
Waste Not, Want Not - Savings in the Kitchen

When it comes to the household budget, a fair portion of the money goes on food. Quite often there are specials on offer which can keep costs down; but, unlike packaged, processed items, the fresh varieties don't stay that way for long. There's little point buying extra at a cheaper price only to throw half away because it has gone off before it can be used. Here's where the freezer is a blessing. Many vegetables and fruits can be frozen, meats certainly, and with a bit of thought plus some time spent after the weekly shopping for preparation and bagging, the savings will be considerable.

Vegetables and fruit are usually cheaper when in season and there are plenty of books and magazines detailing how to cut and prepare them for the freezer. In many instances, blanching (scalding in boiling water) for a minute or more will be necessary. It is usually suggested that the blanched foods are then cooled quickly in ice-water prior to drying. Individual pieces can then be spread out on a tray and consigned to the freezer. Once frozen, they can be bagged, labelled and returned to the freezer until needed. With some fruits like tomato and capsicum, the blanching process can be skipped because they contain so much water. They just require quartering or slicing, then they can go straight into bags. Onions are pretty much the same, but it's best to bag the pieces, then put these into a suitable container with an airtight lid to prevent the smell invading the freezer cabinet. When defrosted, however, onions, tomatoes and capsicums will only be good for cooking.

Meat is rarely cheap, except when instore specials are available, or it is close-to-code and marked down. As long as the cuts are bagged and frozen immediately, the original use-by can be replaced by the re-packed date you will put on the labels. De-frosting is best done in the fridge with the meat being cooked as soon as possible after thawing. Leftovers of most cooked food including small amounts of vegetables can be frozen, although they will be softer than normal after thawing; but don't re-freeze them a second time.

Beware of those items from the store which may already have been frozen and "thawed for your convenience." If you think there's a chance this might be the case, ask the question, because this food can't be frozen again; at least, not unless it is cooked first. As for labelling, stick strips of masking tape on bags and containers and write on this with a felt pen - it won't rub off and is easily seen. Don't forget to include the date of freezing and put the new items of the same kind to the back so that the older food can be used first.

To read the complete article or download the PDF of Health 05 click here

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