Simple Tips for Freezing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Simple Tips for Freezing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables | SavingOurMoney.com

Do you have a vegetable garden at home, or a farmer’s market nearby? Summer is a great time to grow or buy fresh fruits and vegetables and preserve them for use later in the year, when produce prices are much more expensive.

One of the easiest ways to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables is to freeze it. A surprisingly large variety of fruits and veggies can be frozen as is, or you can wash and chop them into a form that’s easy to pull out and cook with down the road. This won’t take long and will make cooking that much easier when it’s time to use them later in the year.¬†Cutting up the produce before freezing also allows you to pack them in tighter, giving you more space in your freezer.

Here are some tips and ideas for freezing fresh fruits and vegetables:

Freezing Fruit:

Berries are one of the easiest fruits to freeze.It’s best to freeze them whole. It’s a good idea to spread the fresh berries out on a cooking sheet and place them in the freezer for a few hours before packing them into freezer bags or containers. This process is called flash freezing, and it ensures they don’t freeze into a big solid lump. Keep them in the freezer, then pour them out as needed to make smoothies, to stir into yogurt or onto oatmeal or to bake a pie or other yummy desserts.

Simple tips for freezing fresh fruits and vegetables | Saving Our Money

Other fruits like peaches, bananas, and pineapple freeze really well, but they should be washed and chopped before freezing. Again, flash freezing is recommended.

When you have bananas that are getting too ripe to eat, throw them in the freezer to use for smoothies or baking. If you plan to use the bananas in smoothies, I recommend peeling and slicing them up and storing them in freezer bags after flash freezing. If you are going to use them in recipes for banana muffins or banana bread, you can throw the bananas in the freezer still in the peels. (They will be mushy once thawed.)

Apples and pears don’t freeze well unless you turn them into pie filling first. I’ve also had success making up big batches of applesauce and pear sauce and freezing that in containers.

Grapes can be frozen, but don’t thaw well at all. If you have too many grapes, toss them in the freezer and eat them frozen. You can also use frozen grapes to flavour your water or use as ice cubes in drinks.

Freezing Fresh Vegetables:

Lots of fresh vegetables can also be rinsed, chopped and frozen. Some veggies that freeze well include green beans, peas, squash, corn, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach. If you see it in the frozen food section at the grocery store, chances are it will freeze well.

Just rinse the produce as it comes out of the garden or from the farmers market, chop it and put it in freezer bags. Most vegetables will benefit from blanching before freezing (see the video below to learn about blanching). Again, flash freezing is generally a good idea to keep the vegetables from sticking together once frozen.

Raw potatoes generally do not freeze well at all – they have a tendency to turn black and/or mushy. However, it is possible to freeze potatoes a few different ways. You can freeze cooked mashed potatoes, grated potatoes or hash browns, or french fries. Blanching the grated or french fried potatoes is highly recommended.

Peppers and onions do well chopped and frozen, if you plan to use them for cooking. The texture will be a bit different once thawed, so don’t plan on eating them raw.

Zucchini is one vegetable that can be very plentiful in summer, but does not freeze particularly well due to its high water content. You can freeze it however, if you grate it first. When you’re ready to use the grated zucchini, thaw it and drain it before adding to your baking recipe or making zucchini pancakes.

Simple tips for freezing fruits and vegetables from the garden

Freezing tomatoes can be a bit tricky. I often freeze bags of cherry tomatoes when I have more than I know what to do with and use them in recipes later on. If you don’t have the time to do anything with larger tomatoes right away, chop and freeze them. You can use them to make salsa, pasta sauce or tomato soup down the road.

If you have a bit of extra time on your hands, I find you get much better results cooking the sauce or soup now and then freezing it. This also makes it much easier to put together a meal down the road. There is nothing more convenient than a batch of tomato sauce to pull together a quick dinner. Grab a container of frozen tomato soup, slowly heat it up on the stove while you make a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

Freezing Herbs:

Fresh herbs can also be frozen, but they can be a little tricky. Some herbs, like rosemary and sage are better preserved by drying or dehydrating. Herbs that are good candidates for freezing include chives, mint, basil, parsley, thyme, oregano and tarragon. The easiest way to freeze fresh herbs is to wash and chop them and scoop them into ice cube trays. Top them with water, chicken broth, or olive oil and freeze until solid. Once solid, you can pop them out of the ice cube tray and put them into freezer bags. Use one of the frozen herb cubes whenever you want to add some flavour to a meal you’re cooking.

Simple tips for freezing fresh herbs

Freezer Meals:

Last but not least, try making your favorite freezer friendly meals with the leftover produce. Soups, chilis and stews work really well as do pot pies and casseroles. Cook up a big batch of chili or vegetable soup. Serve some for dinner and freeze the rest for future lunches and dinners.

15 Things to Do With Leftover Coffee

Are you a coffee drinker? What do you do with your leftover coffee?

As the only coffee drinker in our house, I occasionally find myself with leftover brewed coffee.

I tried using a single serving coffee brewer, but I wasn’t keen on the taste of the coffee and hated all of the extra waste created by the coffee pods. And let’s face it, those pods are not cheap!

Obviously, the ideal solution is just to brew the correct amount of coffee every day. This is sometimes easier said than done. As a result, I’ve found some creative ways to use up my leftover brewed coffee.

15 Things to do With Leftover Coffee | Saving Our Money

If you’re in the same boat, here are 15 ideas to try to use up any coffee leftovers you may have:

  1. Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays and keep in the freezer to make iced coffee drinks. (Also yummy in mixed alcoholic drinks or liqueurs.)
  2. Pour over your flower or vegetable garden or container plants to enrich the soil. Acid-loving plants like hydrangea, blueberries and azaleas in particular will appreciate a shot of coffee.
  3. Soak ladyfingers in your leftover coffee to make tiramisu.
  4. Keep it in the fridge to drink as iced coffee – a good use for some of those frozen coffee ice cubes!
  5. Use in place of the milk or water in homemade chocolate cake or brownie recipes.
  6. Add it to marinades for grilled meats.
  7. Pour it on your compost pile. The acids in coffee help things break down faster.
  8. Pour it over vanilla ice cream for a mocha dessert.
  9. Use it to make iced cappuccino or lattes.
  10. Add it to frosting to make a mocha frosting.
  11. Make mocha ice cream with it.
  12. Use it to dye paper or fabric for an antique look.
  13. Add it to hot chocolate for a chocolate mocha beverage.
  14. Add some to your favourite chili recipe.
  15. Make a coffee shake or smoothie with it. (see easy recipe below)

Ingredients for Banana Coffee Smoothie

  • 1 cup brewed coffee, cold
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
Ingredients for a Banana Coffee smoothie.
Ingredients for a Banana Coffee Smoothie

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Mix until well blended.
  3. Enjoy!

Banana Coffee Shake

To make a Banana Coffee shake, just replace the yogurt with 1/2 cup of vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

Recipe Variations

There are a lot of possible variations with this recipe. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use other flavours of ice cream or yogurt
  • Add some peanut butter
  • Add protein powder
  • Add chocolate sauce
  • Add caramel sauce

Do you ever have leftover coffee at your house? Do you throw it out, or find a use for it?

Painless Ways to Save for a New Car

Need a new car? Check out these savings strategies to help you start saving for a new car. | Saving Our Money

Are you in the market for a new vehicle? Maybe you have had your old car so long that it’s time for an upgrade. If this is you, learn how you can start saving for that new car without having to take out a big car loan.

Saving is hard for most people without a strategy in place. It is easy to say that you want to save money each month, but it can be very hard to do. When it comes to big ticket items like cars, the challenge can seem like an overwhelming task you can’t pull off.

If you want a new car in your life, read on. Here are 7 savings strategies that anyone can take advantage of rather painlessly.

Painless Ways to Save for a New Car

Create a separate bank account

This is an important first step in getting started in saving for your new car. Now you have some place to put funds that are specifically for buying your new car, and you will be motivated to keep adding to the account when you can see the balance growing.

Bank your bonuses and raises

Many workplaces pay their employees a bonus around the holidays or throughout the year for performance appraisals. Instead of adding that money to your current income, place it in your separate savings account so that it can grow for you.

Pay yourself

Research how much it will cost to buy your dream car. And be realistic about what your dream car actually is – remember cars are a depreciating asset! Figure out a likely monthly payment and send that to yourself. You are the bank, so any money comes to you. Place it in your separate interest bearing account to accumulate.

Automatic debit

Set up an automatic transfer for each month, or even better, every payday. Instead of hoping you have money left over to put towards saving, have it automatically deducted from your account before you have a chance to spend it. Since you don’t see it each month, you are less likely to miss it, especially when you have a goal in mind.

Keep your car in mint condition

When it comes time to buy your new car, you can sell your existing car or use it for a trade-in. But, nobody will give you much money for it if the tires are bald, the seats are stained or the upholstery is torn. Regular maintenance is important. Taking care of your vehicle will not only help to ensure that your car runs properly, but help you maximize the amount you get from it to put towards your new vehicle.

Bag your lunch

Instead of spending five dollars here or ten dollars there on food at work, bring your lunch as often as possible. Lower your food budget while you build your car fund.

Save your change

Place any loose change that you have in your pockets in a jar at night. Also, be sure to check sofa cushions and your car for dropped coins. Before you know it you will have a jar full of coins that you can put towards your car fund.

Do you want a new car? Give yourself time, do lots of research and use these simple ways to begin paying for it now.

8 Simple Ways to Save Money on Travel Accommodations

8 simple ways to save on travel accommodations | Saving Our Money
8 simple ways to save on travel accommodations | Saving Our Money

If a family vacation or trip to another city is in your near future, chances are you’re looking for easy ways to save money on travel accommodations. I have great news. There are many ways to do just that. Keep reading to learn about a few simple tips that are sure to reduce the amount of money you pay for a room.

Book Mid-Week Reservations

You’ll typically save money on your hotel stay, if you are able to book mid-week. This is especially true if you’re traveling to specific locations like Las Vegas or Orlando. Believe it or not, some hotels almost triple their prices on the weekends. How do they get away with it? It’s a simple case of supply versus demand.

Reserve “Free Cancellation” Rooms

More and more online booking engines are offering travelers the chance to reserve “free cancellation” accommodations. Booking.com is famous for this perk. The vast majority of accommodations offered on the site are “book now, pay later.” This allows you to choose your hotel room in advance, while keeping an eye on prices. If you happen to find something lower, simply cancel and rebook.

Book a Room in a Smaller Town

Are you vacationing in large city? If your answer is yes, consider staying in a smaller town nearby. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll pay less for a room. The only exception to this is if you’re attending a super large event that people from all over will be attending. In this case, the more in advance you book, the better.

Inquire About Family Rates

Even if a hotel doesn’t publicly post an official “family rate,” that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck when requesting one. It never hurts to ask. In addition to actual discounted prices, family rates sometimes include free meals for kids, attraction tickets or other types of upgrades.

Subscribe to E-Newsletters

If you have a favorite booking engine or hotel brand, subscribing to their newsletter keeps you up-to-date on any specials offered. The same thing goes for social media accounts. Many times, hotels announce special deals for their followers only.

Check out Alternative Accomodations

Websites like Airbnb let you find suitable accommodations in people’s private homes. You can rent a room, a condo or a whole house, depending on your needs, at a variety of price points.

See also: 
Travel on a Budget: A Beginner's Guide to Airbnb

Delete Your Cookies

This is a trick that many people don’t know about. When you visit a website to get booking information, the site saves your search data. So, if you go back a second time without deleting your cookies you’re going to see the same price, even if the current price is lower… there’s even a chance you may be charged more!

Use Reward Programs

If you tend to stay at the same hotel chain, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t sign up for their rewards program. To make the most of your membership, use the credit card attached to the program to pay the bill. Your points will rack up that much faster. (Just be sure to pay the credit card bill when it comes in!)

These are just a few ways to save money on travel accommodations. It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Probably the most important thing to remember is this: When you wait until the last minute to make reservations, chances are you will pay more.

How to Save Money on Travel with Free Festivals

How to Save Money on Travel with Free Festivals. Family travel.

Let’s be honest – planning an affordable family vacation can make any sane women trade in her cup of tea for a glass of wine. Thankfully, there is one trip planning secret that is often overlooked but can really add to the enjoyment of any trip: your ability to save money on travel costs with free festivals.

Depending on your travel destination, you are likely to find multiple events and attractions that are created to share cultural pastimes and traditions while educating people about things outside of their own back yard. The beauty of attending free festivals while travelling extends far past the chance it gives you to save money on entertainment. The truly infallible feature is that even with the diversity of each festival’s theme, each one is generally built on a foundation of good food, music, friendship and laughter – the ideal ingredients for a perfect day spent making memories!

Lessen the cost of entertainment while travelling

A family trip is a time to bond, be adventurous, spend quality time together, learn new things and create memories that will be treasured forever. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the expense of the trip itself gets in the way from some of the fun that we would like to have.

A lot of times the joy of travelling becomes a bit clouded by the cost of entertainment and sightseeing. However, by incorporating some free festivals into your family vacation plans, you can create memorable family moments without breaking the bank. Here are some ideas of types of free festivals to look for when planning your next trip:

Popular types of free festivals

  • Music Festivals
  • Art Fairs
  • Food Festivals
  • Cultural Celebrations
  • Community Events
  • Seasonal / Holiday Festivals
  • Renaissance Fairs
  • Film Festivals
  • Craft Fairs
  • Pet Shows

Save money while travelling by checking out free festivals in the area you're visiting

Tip: Check the community calendar of your destination

From art festivals to music venues, historical re-enactments to pet shows, it is not uncommon to find a destination offering you the ability to save money while travelling by attending a free festival or two during your trip. During the summer months many locales host festivals of some sort every weekend, if not all week long. Before deciding on a definite vacation week, check the community calendar of your destination to see what events are up and coming.

When you are making travel plans, remember that festivals are celebrated everywhere. So don’t limit yourself to only exploring your specific destination. Check festivals and events being held in nearby areas. With your family’s interests in mind, consider locations in the surrounding area that are easy to get to by car, and see what events are being held that could maximize your fun exposure while on vacation.

Free festivals are a great way to experience new things and save money while on a family vacation.

New experiences

Free festivals offer so much more than just a chance to save money travelling; they are a golden opportunity to experience something new and exciting while building a lifetime of memorable moments with your family.

There are so many festival types; you are bound to find one that everyone in the family will enjoy. But don’t be afraid to try something new. The ability to save money travelling with free festivals is a great way to expand your mind, and encourage your kids to appreciate the joy of the unknown. If the worse comes to worst and it’s not your cup of tea, no worries – it was free! So don’t think twice about hitting the road and moving on to the next adventure!