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Category Archives: Kitchen Basics

What to Stock Up on in April

Back yard broccoli

The weather here in Phoenix is absolutely perfect. I know the entire population wishes it would stay this way forever. Alas, we do live in a desert and the summer is almost upon us. Our growing seasons are different than other parts of the country. Despite the glorious days and nights we’re having, the number of locally sourced produce items takes a big hit in April. According to the harvest schedule I’ve been referring to we should see about a one-third drop in variety at the produce stands. Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t have great produce to choose from but from here on out, we’ll see less and less of it as the desert sun takes its toll on local crops.

Broccoli is no longer on the “stock up” list because its currently out of season here. I was very fortunate to have some fresh cut broccoli, literally out of my friend’s back yard garden and into the saute pan, earlier this month. I’m super impressed because I’ve never known anyone who actually grew broccoli. Second, I was blown away by the flavor.

This experience just seals my commitment to each as much local produce as possible. I extracted this list from a harvest calendar published in The Arizona Republic a few years ago. If you’re not in Arizona, you can find a list for your area by month at the bottom of the page here.

Produce in season – April

Vegetables

Artichokes, Asparagus, Beans/Fava, Cabbage (Green, Red), Carrots, Cauliflower, Cilantro, Greens (Beet, Collards, Mustard, Turnip), Kale, Lettuce (Iceberg, Leaf, Romaine, Spring Mix), Onions (Green and Sweet), Parsley, Potatoes (Red and Russet), Radishes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips

Fruits

Grapefruit (Redblush and White), Lemons, Oranges (Valencia, Sweet)

Grocery Store Sales

April

Easter:  Ham, Eggs, Spices, Baking Supplies: Sugar, Spices, Baking Mixes, Chocolate Chips, Butter, Coconut, Marshmallows, Brownie Mix, Cake Mix
Earth Day: Organic Foods, Energy Saver, Reusable Totes
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Grapefruit, Haas Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Rhubarb
Clearance: After Easter sales


How about you? What is in season in your neck of the woods?

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Kitchen Basics, Kitchen Savings

 

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What to Stock Up on in March

Is this the last of the local oranges?

Welcome to month three of Kat’s series on kitchen savings. If you look closely, you may notice that every month under grocery store sales there is another list of seasonal produce that goes on sale. I debated how to handle this and decided to leave it be. Even though I’m becoming a huge advocate for buying local, I’m not above saving money on produce even if it ships in from far-flung continent.

Global growing seasons means that more and more produce is available to us year round. In the vein of saving money and sustaining our environment I vote for buying local first and buying what is abundant at the grocery store second.

Speaking of buying local, here again is a list of what is in season in Arizona for the coming month. It surprised me to see some citrus coming off the list. I guess that makes sense since the lemon tree in my backyard is about to start blossoming again. I’ll be watching to see how closely this holds true at my local produce stand.

I extracted this list from a harvest calendar published in The Arizona Republic a few years ago. If you’re not in Arizona, you can find a list for your area by month at the bottom of the page here.

Produce in season – March

Vegetables

Anise, Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli (and Baby variety), Cabbage (Green, Red and Napa), Carrots, Cauliflower (and Green variety), Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Fava Beans, Greens (Beet, Collards, Mustard, Turnip), Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce (Butter/Boston, Endive, Escarole, Iceberg, Leaf, Romaine, Spring Mix), Onions (Greenand Kinnow), Parsley, Radicchio, Radishes (Red and Daikon/Japanese), Rapini, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips

Fruits

Grapefruit (Redblush and White), Lemons, Oranges (Valencia, Sweet)

Grocery Store Sales

March

Frozen Food Month: Ice Cream, Frozen Vegetables (Boxed, Bag, or Steam), Frozen Meals, Foster Farms Chicken, Waffles, Pizza
Seasonal Produce (Global): Artichoke, Asparagus, Haas Avocado, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Lemon, Lime, Mushrooms, Spring Onions, Orange, Peas, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Tangerine

How about you? What is in season in your neck of the woods?

 
 

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What to Stock Up on in February

Local farm produce

Want to hear something crazy? I did a little audit of the harvest cycles for Arizona. Believe it or not, February weighs in as the month where we harvest the highest number of local produce items. Crazy, isn’t it? Whodathunk that while a major part of our country is hunkering down with cold, snow and ice, Arizonans would be reveling in the height of nature’s bounty? Right now is the time to start stocking up to take advantage of the tremendous benefits to your health and pocketbook by eating local produce.

According to Local Harvest, “Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places.

If your goal is to get more bang for your buck, scroll below for a list of produce that is in season for the coming month. If you scroll even further down, you’ll see a list of what grocery items to stock up too.

I pulled this list from a harvest calendar published in The Arizona Republic a few years ago. If you’re not in Arizona, you can find a list for your area by month at the bottom of the page here.

Produce in season – February

Vegetables

Anise/Fennel, Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli (and Baby variety), Cabbage (Green, Red and Napa), Carrots, Cauliflower (and Green variety), Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Fava Beans, Greens (Beet, Collards, Mustard, Turnip), Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce (Butter/Boston, Endive, Escarole, Iceberg, Leaf, Romaine, Spring Mix), Onions (Green, Blood and Kinnow), Parsley, Radicchio, Radishes (Red and Daikon/Japanese), Rapini, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips

Fruits

Grapefruit (Redblush and White), Lemons, Oranges (Valencia, Navel, Sweet, Temple), Tangelos (Minneola and Orlando)

Grocery Store Sales

February

National Canned Food Month: Canned Fruit, Pie Fillings, Vegetables, Meats (Tuna, Chicken, Salmon)
National Hot Breakfast Month:  Malt O Meal, Oatmeal, Eggo Waffles, Syrup
Valentine’s Day:  Chocolate, Hershey’s
Chinese New Year: Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Noodles, Canned Water Chestnuts
Seasonal Produce (Globally):  Artichoke, Asparagus, Raspberries, Potatoes, Strawberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Spinach

How about you? Have you made any changes in your food plans and/or budget?

 
 

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What to Stock Up On in January

Moving full steam ahead with my resolutions, I’m busy creating meal plans that incorporate local produce that is in season. I’m sure I don’t have to spell out the benefits.

The Sustainable Table says: “Although today’s global marketplace allows us to buy foods grown virtually anywhere in the world all year round, these options are not the most sustainable.

By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles, your food dollar goes directly to the farmer, and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.”

If your goal is, like mine, to stretch your food dollars. Scroll below of a list of produce that is in season. If you scroll even further down, you’ll see a list of what grocery items to stock up on for January too. Although I’m a bit behind this month, I will be publishing these lists each month.

Culled from a harvest calendar published in The Arizona Republic a few years ago, here is a list of produce to focus on in January. Cooking recipes that use local, abundant and cheap produce will help your pockebook. If you’re not in Arizona, you can find a list for your area by month at the bottom of the page here.

Produce in season – January

Vegetables

Anise, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli (and Baby variety), Cabbage (Green, Red and Napa), Carrots, Cauliflower (and Green variety), Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Greens (Beet, Collards, Mustard, Turnip), Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce (Butter/Boston, Endive, Escarole, Iceberg, Leaf, Romaine, Spring Mix), Onions (Green, Blood and Kinnow), Parsley, Radicchio, Radishes (Red and Daikon/Japanese), Rapini, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips

Fruits

Grapefruit (Redblush and White), Lemons, Oranges (Navel, Sweet,Temple), Tangelos (Minneola and Orlando)

Grocery Store Sales

National Oatmeal Month: Quaker
Diet Foods including: Healthy Choice, South Beach, Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, Smart Start, 100 Calorie Packs, Yogurt
Winter Health: Cold Medicines and Vitamins
Super Bowl Sunday: Pepsi, Coke, Chips, Dips, Cheese, Sandwich Items, Crackers, Snacks, Wings
Clearance: Christmas Decorations, Toys, Wrapping Papers

How about you? How do you incorporate seasonal produce or grocery store sales into your monthly planning?

 
 

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Kat’s 2012 (Financial) Goals for the Kitchen

The start of the new year is a perfect time to start afresh. For me, sometimes the motivation to set goals and start changing things up happens well before January 1 and sometimes I lag behind. This is a lag behind year. I kinda blame it on being under the weather for the last two weeks of December. I certainly was not at all motivated over plans and goals for 2012 while I was sniffling and sneezing and had a headache on top of it all.

Alas, the cold has cleared and I’m starting to feel some warm, fuzzy vibes. I still don’t have much of an appetite so I really haven’t been cooking (hence the lack of healthy recipes this week) but I’m getting close. In the last couple of days, though, I’ve been mulling financial goals in the back of my head. On the heels of my overall eating goals for 2012, here are my specific plans for saving money in the kitchen.

Setting a Food BudgetConfession time! For a single person, I spend ridiculous amounts of money on food. Armed with a budget and a solid menu plan, I know I’ll end up saving money. Hopefully being more organized will help prevent me from throwing food away which, lets face it, is a total waste of money.

Couponing – I used to cut coupons religiously and know people who currently save tons of money at the checkout. I’m not really sure when or why I stopped. I also confess to being intrigued by programs like Coupon Sense. My goal is to start cutting coupons, use them responsibly on items I actually need and donate the rest of what I buy to charity or my church pantry or a homeless shelter. [Raises right hand:] I swear on my honor that I won’t go all OCD and take it to the extreme because who really needs a ton of crap just because you can get it for free.

Farmers market – For months now I’ve considered the benefits of buying local, seasonal produce at a farmers market. The two farmer’s co-ops I visited disappointed me; the produce seemed overly pricey. That changed today when I stopped at a local produce stand (pictured above). After a chat with a friendly clerk I learned that the owners source much of their food locally and try to price it under big box grocery stores. Score!! I will definitely be visiting them again.

Preserving food – My inner-Martha gets a bit of food envy when I read about ambitious women who grow their own food and then can or freeze it. Growing fresh herbs is within my reach but my postage-stamp sized yard isn’t big enough to grow more than a novelty’s worth of veggies. Back to the produce stand where I can buy cheap veggies in season and preserve them in some yet-to-be-determined form or fashion.

Bulk cooking – The other concept I’m hot on is freezer cooking. Years ago I dragged my sister to one of those “meals in minutes” places where you assemble ingredients and seasonings for meals to stick in your freezer. I ♥ the concept but I hated the prices and was always thinking “I could do this in my own kitchen.” Thanks to the menu plans at Once A Month Mom I’m on the verge of finally putting this into practice; ‘m teaming up with 3 ladies to do a bulk cooking day this weekend. By buying ingredients in bulk, we should save money.

There you have it. Shop smarter and spend less. Those are my financial food goals for 2012.

Have you thought about how to save money in your kitchen in 2012?

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Kitchen Basics, Kitchen Savings, Scratch cooking

 

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Kat’s 2012 Goals for the Kitchen

Kat's score from Sprouts

Happy New Year!

Setting goals is a powerful thing. Eleven years ago I sat at my dining room table and thoughtfully planned out goals for 5 areas of my life. Amazingly (and somewhat unknowingly) within three years I had accomplished much of what was on that list including moving across the country, landing a better job, fostering my passion for wine and visiting Europe for the first time.

I had a category for food goals which included focusing on balanced eating, consuming four to five smaller meals a day and cooking often. This year is no different. I have goals for 2012 and I will share them with you. I would love you to comment below on your goals, too.

Creating balanced meal plans is first and foremost. I aim for roughly 1500 calories a day with a nice mix of different fruits, veggies, grains and animal protein. See my “garanimal” style menu planning post for more details on this. Having a steady supply of pre-cooked meals in my freezer means I won’t be eating microwave popcorn for dinner every night.

Plant herbs and vegetables. Inspired by La Mama’s very successful backyard garden, last summer I planted an herb garden in one of my raised beds. I loved being able to snip fresh herbs to season my food. This year I intend to replant the herb garden and add a small vegetable garden on the other side of my yard.

Cook with seasonal food. This was a big breakthrough for me in 2011. Instead of picking menu items and spending a fortune on the necessary ingredients, I started buying produce in season and creating my meal plans around produce that was abundant and cheap. Changing up my menu with seasonal foods provided a noticeable dent in my grocery bill.

Focus on unprocessed. This past October I participated in Andrew Wilder’s October Unprocessed challenge. In keeping with another one of my overriding life goals not to be too obsessive about things, I took the challenge at my own pace. So, while I didn’t follow the challenge to the letter I did focus on bringing more and more unprocessed food into my daily meal plans.

Share the love. I smile now as I recall some of the great meals from 2011. The best memories have one thing in common; sharing great food with great people. From my Table for Six dinner to the Southwest Food Fiesta to wine and cheese with awesome appetizers, I enjoy food more when I’m sharing the experience.

Enough about me. What about you? What are your goals for 2012 and is there a way I can help?? Please use the comments section to share your goals with me.

 

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Grocery Sale Cycles – When Do Things Go on Sale?

I could replace the leaky coffeemaker...

Today is Cyber Monday when the rabid pursuit for deals continues on from Black Friday. Certainly this would be a good time to pick up new kitchen appliances if you need them. I have a coffee maker that has leaked for the better part of two years. My solution has been to use a cute kitchen rag (which I change out by season) to sop up the water. Perhaps I will actually replace the darn thing soon.

Many people wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to stock up on Christmas gifts and other stuff…much of which they probably don’t need. However, year round we all need household supplies and we all need to eat.

Knowing when to stock up on certain grocery items and when to wait until things go on sale means smarter shopping. Getting the best deals and planning for the whole year can help with shrinking food budgets. Even without being an extreme couponer, if you understand what goes on sale when, you can save money.

This list is compliments of my friend Brigitte who saves a lot of money using coupons. She sent it to me a few months ago. I’m not certain where she got it from so it remains uncredited.

Shop on, fine readers!

December

Holiday Dinner: Egg Nog, Deli Platters, Instant Potatoes, Gravy Mixes, Frozen Pies, Cranberry Sauce, Jello, Marshmallows. Sour Cream Dips, Crackers, Chips, Soda, Ham
Baking: Flour, Sugar, Butter, Cream, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, Muffin Mix, Breads, Pie Crust, Marshmallow, Whipped cream
Canned Foods: Soup, Broth, Condensed Milk, Vegetables, Fruits, Spaghetti Sauce
Seasonal Produce: Anjou Pears, Bok Choy, Bosc Pears, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Dates, Grapefruit, Haas Avocados, Kale, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lemon, Napa Cabbage, Oranges, Sweet Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Rutabaga, Savoy Cabbage, Spinach, Winter Squash, Yams, Turnips, White Potato
Clearance: After Thanksgiving and After Christmas Sales

January

National Oatmeal Month: Quaker
Diet Foods including: Healthy Choice, South Beach, Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, Smart Start, 100 Calorie Packs, Yogurt
Super Bowl Sunday: Pepsi, Coke, Chips, Dips, Cheese, Sandwich Items, Crackers, Snacks, Wings
Seasonal Produce: Oranges, Pears, Grapefruit, Tangerines, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Cabbage, Spinach
Clearance: Christmas Decorations, Toys, Wrapping Papers,
Winter Health: Cold Medicines and Vitamins

February

National Canned Food Month: Canned Fruit, Pie Fillings, Vegetables, Meats: Tuna, Chicken, Salmon
National Hot Breakfast Month:  Malt O Meal, Oatmeal, Eggo Waffles, Syrup
Valentines:  Chocolate, Hershey’s
Chinese New Year: Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, Noodles, Canned Water Chestnuts
Seasonal Produce:  Artichoke, Asparagus, Raspberries, Potatoes, Strawberries, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Kale, Kiwi, Avocado, Spinach

March

Frozen Food Month: Ice Cream, Frozen Vegetables (Boxed, Bag, or Steam), Frozen Meals, Foster Farms Chicken, Waffles, Pizza
Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Asparagus, Haas Avocado, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Fennel, Kale, Leek, Lemon, Lime, Mushrooms, Spring Onions, Orange, Peas, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Tangerine

April

Easter:  Ham, Eggs, Spices, Baking Supplies: Sugar, Spices, Baking Mixes, Chocolate Chips, Butter, Coconut, Marshmallows, Brownie Mix, Cake Mix
Earth Day: Organic Foods, Energy Saver, Reusable Totes
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Grapefruit, Haas Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Rhubarb
Clearance: After Easter sales

May

Memorial Day: BBQ Sauce, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips, Grilling Meats, Hot Dogs, Hamburger Meat, Marinade, Salad Greens
Paper Products: Plates, Utensils, Insect Repellant, Sunscreen
Cinco De Mayo: Salsa, tortillas
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Asparagus, Avocado, Beans, Green, Beets, Blackberries, Carrots, Sweet Vidalia Onions, Peas, New Potatoes, Raspberries, Strawberries

June

National Dairy Month: Eggs, Milk, Ice Cream, Cheese, Cream Cheese, Butter, Yogurt, Whipping Cream, Whipped Cream, Cool Whip
End of June is Fourth or July Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips
Seasonal Produce: Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Honeydew, Nectarines, Peaches, Potatoes, Raspberries, Red Onions, Squash, Summer, Strawberries, Sweet Vidalia Onions, Tomatoes, Watermelon

July

National Ice Cream Month
More 4th of July BBQ Sales: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, Condiments, Charcoal, Salad Dressing, Potato Chips, Dips
End of July: Back to School Sales Begin: Crayons, Pencils, Folders, Binders
Seasonal Produce: Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, Beans, Green, Blueberries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Garlic, Grapes, Nectarines, Onions, Red, Valencia Oranges, Peaches, Sweet/Bell Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon

August

Back to School: Pudding cups, Lunch meat, Lunchables, Bread, Cold Cereal, Waffles, Lunchboxes
Disinfectant:  Clorox, Purell
Clearance:  Insect Repellant, Sunscreen, charcoal
Seasonal Produce: Gravenstein Apple, Haas Avocado, Green Beans, Beans, Berries, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Grapes, Melons, Onion, Peaches, Bartlett Pears, Bell Pepper, Plums, Raspberries, Squash, Summer, Tomatillo, Tomato

September

Back to School Sales through Labor Day:  Crayons, Pencils, Folders, Binders
Diabetes: Bayer Glucose Meters, Glucerna Cereal
Seasonal Produce: Apples, Artichokes, Beans, Bell Peppers, Chili Peppers, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Onion, Valencia Orange, Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, Pomegranate, Squash, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Winter Squash
Baby Items: Major Baby Equipment, Baby Safety

October

Halloween: Candy, Fresh Pumpkin
Beginning of the Baking Sales: Canned pumpkin, Evaporated Milk, Baking Chips
Daylight Savings Time Ends Promotions: Alarm Clocks, Batteries, Safety Equipment, Smoke Detectors
National Seafood Month
Adopt a Shelter-Dog Month: Pedigree, Purina
Seasonal Produce: Almonds, Apples, Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Chard, Chestnuts, Cranberries, Lemons, Parsnip, Pears, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Spinach, Squash, Winter, Turnips, Yams

November

Hot Cocoa, Coffee, Tea
Baking Sales in Full Swing: Nuts, Chocolate Chips, Evaporated Milk, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Coconut, Cake Mixes
Canned foods: Soup, Broth, Vegetables, Fruits, Spaghetti Sauce
Thanksgiving Items: Turkey, Canned Pumpkin, Stovetop Stuffing, Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes, Gravy Mixes, Frozen Pies, Cranberry Sauce, Jello, Marshmallows
Seasonal Produce: Anjou Pears, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Celery, Comice Pears, Cranberries, Kiwi, Lemons, Orange, Potato, Squash, Yams
Clearance: After Halloween Sales

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Kitchen Basics, NaBloPoMo

 

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