Perfect Portions to Save Money

I would argue that the most difficult issue faced by anyone who cooks is to calculate the correct amount of food to buy and then prepare for a meal. The problem with portion control is that just about every recipe book and food site has recipes for 4 people, sometimes even more. And what about single people because I have found cooking for one a  monstrous challenge. But stop to think about the amount of money you waste every week on cooking too much food. Portion control is one of the most important skills you can learn.

In recent years there has been a lot of interest and activity in this space and there have been some incredibly clever uses of web based technology to help. I stumbled accross the Perfect Portions web site by accident, researching for something else. It is part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign supported by UK organisation WRAP who are also responsible for encouraging recycling and home composting. What a fantastic idea. You click on the foods you are going to cook and then tell it how many people and it figures out how much of each item you need.

Have a think about this the next time you are shopping for yourself or for a group and here are a few tips to help you:

  • Think Logically: when you are buying potatoes for mash as an example how many would each person need? They don’t grow or shrink in size when they are mashed so consider the total amount.
  • Single Living: make enough for two and take the other half for lunch the next day.
  • Buy Bulk and Freeze: take note of bulk deals on meat and poultry and place single portions into freezer bags so that you only have to defrost what you need.
  • Left Overs: keep the discarded vegetable pieces like carrot tops and the woody parts of asparagus to make stock. And the bones and remaining meat from Chicken makes great stock too. I use left over pork and shred it to make Vietnamese style Pho.

Portion control plus using leftovers will not only save you money it will also inspire you to try dishes that you may not normally think of.

Do you have tips for using left overs? Why not leave a comment and tell us all.

Food Information On Your Mobile

There is no doubt that smart mobile phones like the iPhone are changing the way we communicate and work. But there are some fantastic developments going on that can benefit us all as shoppers and consumers. One of the most exciting things I have seen of late is the RedLaser bar-code scanner for the iPhone.

This incredible app lets you scan the bar-code of a product and then retrieve key information including prices from the internet. Granted right now it is USA-centric but this is the first of many applications that will surface like this over the next year or so.

The implications for a cook or a parent are incredible. Imagine scanning the bar-code of a product and then retrieving information about what’s in it, including allergens, country of origin, even fat and calorie levels. This is a truly exciting use for technology and one I think that we should all be monitoring carefully. Check out the video demo of the app.