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Frugal foodie: Ice cube trays can stretch your budget

looking-in-freezerMany of us don’t have a need for ice cube trays anymore, relying instead on the automatic ice maker from our freezer or the handy ice dispenser from the cafeteria at work.

But ice cube trays can provide simple and effective ways to stretch our food budget and offer some easy methods to cut down on meal preparation after a busy shift at work.

Consider the following ideas:

  • Rainbow ice. Freeze a variety of colorful ice cubes for a cool, fruity beverage. Try a cherry Kool-Aid cube in a glass of lemonade, or freeze a variety of flavors that kids can put in a glass of water for a fun treat after school. If you’re looking for a way to stretch those expensive juices, freeze some in a tray, then add a couple of cubes to your glass of seltzer.
  • Easy broths. If you have leftover broth, pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. After the broth is frozen, put it into small freezer bags and label it. When needed for cooking, take the frozen cubes and put them into a pot. One cube equals about two tablespoons.
  • Saving spices. As winter approaches, get the most of remaining spices from your garden or farmers’ market by putting them in an ice cube tray along with a bit of water (enough that the spice is surrounded by water on top). Or, if you buy spices for a special recipe at home, there’s no need to worry about the remainder going to waste—simply freeze in the tray for another time!
  • Baby food. Many of us love the idea of preparing our baby’s food, but may be crunched for time. By pureeing the food, then freezing it in ice cube trays, you’ll not only cut down on using the expensive prepared baby food, but will also be providing homemade yummies for your child and saving time!

Finally, if you’re looking for more ways to maximize your food dollar, there are some great Websites and blogs that offer terrific ideas. Check these out:

  • Frugal living: frugalliving.about.com. Written by Eric Huffstetler, this blog offers tips on everything from creating a frugal budget to using leftovers to keeping food fresher longer.
  • Cheap cooking: cheapcooking.com. Ellen Ferlazzo says she’s a freelance web copywriter by day, but she also provides information for people who “need to cut back on their expenses.” Recipes include beef stew with red wine and artichokes, and chicken with garlic, lemon and honey.

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Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist. Her book, 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy...And How to Avoid Them, was named one of the top 10 most notable business books by the New York Post in 2007. For more information, visit her Website at 45things.com.
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