How to Stretch Your Food Dollar: Herbs and Brown Sugar

By: Emily Silman

Many of you tuned in to Food Network's special, The Big Waste, that aired last week, and we heard from lots of you about how eye-opening and shocking it is to see how much perfectly edible food ends up in the garbage. Even if you’re not tasked with cooking a meal for 100 people using wasted food like chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay and Michael Symon were, you can still learn how to get the most out of your groceries with the tips below.

1. Treat fresh herbs like flowers and give them a vase. Who doesn’t hate it when you need a tablespoon of fresh parsley for a recipe but you’re forced to buy a giant bunch? You can hang on to the extras for another use if you treat them well. Fill a glass halfway with water, remove any twist ties or rubber bands from the herbs, and then place them in the glass, stems down. Cover with a plastic bag (the produce bag you probably brought them home in is perfect), then secure the bag to the glass with a rubber band. This will keep them fresh and usable for much longer than if you’d just tossed them in the crisper drawer.

2. Keep brown sugar soft and moist. Brown sugar is essential in many cookie recipes for keeping them soft and tender. The moisture content in brown sugar is what makes this possible, so you’ll need to make sure your brown sugar doesn’t dry out. If you have an opened bag of brown sugar, close the bag with a rubber band then place it in a zip-top plastic bag, making sure to squeeze out any air that might rob the sugar of moisture. Storing sugar this way means you won’t find yourself all set to make cookies only to realize your stash of brown sugar is as hard as a rock. (If you’re really in a bind, it is possible to rehydrate brown sugar to make it usable again: Remove the sugar from the bag and wrap it in a damp paper towel. Place it on a plate and microwave for 15-20 seconds until it softens up.)

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