Last year The New York Times and other news outlets reported a scary statistic: Americans throw out approximately 40 percent of all the food we purchase. Let’s say you spend $100 a week on groceries — that’s like taking $40 and just tossing it in the trash. If you’re one of the many of us who are resolving to spend money more wisely in the new year, then taking a look at your grocery shopping and food storage habits and making some improvements will help stretch your food dollar even further. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing helpful tips to make the most of the food you buy and help you avoid having to throw anything away.
1. Don’t let oil or nuts go rancid. Whenever I cook in a friend’s home, rancid olive and vegetable oil is the number one food sin that I see committed. Many people don’t realize that oil goes bad, so it’s very important to keep it (especially pricey olive oil) in a cool, dark place. Take the sniff test to determine if yours has gone bad: if it smells musty and off, it’s time to say goodbye. (And here’s an important food disposal tip: if you must throw it away, don’t pour oil down the drain; it’s terrible for waste-water treatment plants.) If you don’t use a lot of oil, avoid buying giant bottles so it won’t go bad before you use it up.
The worst offense you could commit »
Gooey cheeses coat penne pasta, while bright peas and salty diced ham add heft to this 30-minute weeknight dinner.
Get the recipe: Four-Cheese Pasta With Peas and Ham
Welcome to January 2012. It’s cold in some parts of the country, so most of the celebrations on our foodways are indoors and focused on staving off hypothermia — mostly with drink. Cheers to a new year and new ways to relish that which sustains our bodies and our minds.
Big Beers Festival, Vail, Colo., Jan. 5-7: Another month, another wonderful suds soiree to stave off the cold (or cool our keisters, in the case of the warmer seasons). This beer festival on the bunny slopes of the Rocky Mountains is one of several spirited occasions in January. For this 12th annual event, hefty beer, including Belgians, barleywines and sours, will be showcased during exclusive dinners, seminars (The Marriage of Good Beer and Good Music with Sam Calagione) and commercial tastings. A homebrew competition and a certified cicerone (i.e., beer sommelier) exam will also be held.
More food festivals in January »
Back in August 2011, FN Dish announced that Bobby Flay would be joining season three of Worst Cooks in America, battling it out against seasoned undefeated champ Anne Burrell. Now you can officially mark your calendars — starting Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9pm/8c, Worst Cooks returns with Anne leading one team and Bobby another. The country’s most hopeless cooks will compete for a $25,000 prize, which will be awarded to the winning contestant who achieves the most progress and best performance, in addition to bragging rights and victory for his or her culinary mentor.
In the season premiere, the 16 “recruits,” each nominated by family and friends for their atrocious cooking skills, arrive at Base Camp and attempt to impress Anne and Bobby with their signature dishes. Each week, the contestant with the least successful dish on each team will be sent home, while the remaining competitors will cook on.
Tune in: Sunday, February 12 at 9 pm Eastern/8 pm Central
Which team will you be rooting for? »
Start the New Year off on a warm, healthy note by making a bowl of Ellie’s veggie soup. Loaded with colorful carrots, zucchini and celery, vitamin-packed spinach and fresh herbs, this bowl gets its thick and creamy consistency from mashed cannellini beans and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese before serving.
Bake up a batch of Food Network Magazine’s Almost-Famous Breadsticks, topped with a dusting of garlic powder and dried oregano, to dunk into Ellie’s easy soup, ready in just 35 minutes.
Get the recipe: Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Note: Make sure you use vegetable broth instead of chicken.
Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.
Food Network users have spoken: traditional, tried-and-true recipes are best. From classic comfort food and seafood to Italian and Mexican favorites, Food Network’s top 10 main dish recipes of 2011 are as diverse as they are flavorful. Make a New Year’s resolution to bring a few of these family-friendly dishes to your table in 2012.
10. Spaghetti alla Carbonara — A silky, no-cook egg and Parmesan combination coats each noodle and perfectly complements crispy pancetta pieces in this Italian classic.
9. Oven-baked Salmon — Ready in just 20 minutes, this heart-healthy meal features lean salmon filets, simply seasoned and baked until cooked through.
8. Beer Can Chicken — Grill this chicken standing up, balanced atop a half-empty beer can and resting on its legs.
7. Crab Cakes — Paula’s crab cakes boast a golden, crispy exterior and tender crab with fresh vegetables and a Worcestershire-mayonnaise mixture inside.
6. Chicken Enchiladas — Tyler mixes shredded chicken with chipotle chiles and corn and bakes it in tortillas with enchilada sauce and cheese.
Read more »
This is a time of the year when my drinking rules and all “house” policies go out the window. I want something new. I will drink a cocktail through the cocktail hour and the dinner party instead of switching to wine. I sip smoky, tabacco-y scotch. I indulge in a snifter of brandy. Sometimes I mix drinks. Here are a few I’m enjoying this year for New Year’s.
I really like this flavor — it rides the perfect line between bitter and sweet. It goes well with salty snacks or with a full meal. Make sure everything (including the glasses) are as cold as possible.
Get Alex’s cocktail recipes »
Like so many others, when the new year approaches, I begin to entertain thoughts of healthier eating. I imagine spending all of December 31 sweeping out my refrigerator and pantry, getting rid of the crackers, chocolate (even the baking kind) and oozy cheeses, and replacing them with kale, flax seed meal and dried beans.
Most years I don’t actually tackle such extreme measures. Instead I just take steps to add a few more virtuous items to our regular menu. Come January the number of leafy greens found in my kitchen will outnumber the cheeses (sadly, not the case at the moment) and I’ll start packing more lunches for my husband and me.
One way that I fill our lunch bags is with homemade soup. I cook up a batch at the beginning of each week and portion it out into microwave-safe containers each night before I go to bed. That way it’s easy to grab come morning. These soups are often bean and vegetable based. Some weeks I do a black bean soup from dried beans; other weeks I stick to pantry basics like canned white beans and boxed stock.
Recently I’ve been making a simple Lentil Soup using Alton Brown’s recipe as my guide. It makes a generous amount, is incredibly cheap to make (good if you’re watching your wallet as well as your waistline) and can happily simmer on the back burner on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. All these things make it perfect for The Weekender.
Before you start simmering, read these tips »
On New Year’s Eve in my house, there exists no particular ritual as one year comes to a close and another is ushered in, apart from popping champagne at midnight, that is. However, various countries and cultures practice habits of their own to mark the occasion and to celebrate the year, particularly by eating certain foods in the hope of securing a bit of luck in the months ahead. Epicurious featured an article detailing New Year’s food traditions around the world and explained the origins of them. Check out below various customs of eating Lucky Food for the New Year and find corresponding recipes so you can bring these practices into your home.
For many, pigs represent progress and growth in life, so pork dishes are common on New Year’s menus from Cuba to Austria. Food Network Magazine offers a Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (pictured above) that is sure to feed a crowd and takes just over an hour to prepare. Sautéed cremini mushrooms, fresh parsley and crispy bacon are wrapped inside a lean, butterflied tenderloin, then grilled until thoroughly cooked.
More lucky New Year’s recipes »
Food Network Kitchens has come up with its annual list of the top trends that will define 2012 in food. Check out one of the trends here, then visit Food Network’s Healthy Eats and Cooking Channel’s Devour for the rest of the list.
Mustard in its many forms — from condiment to vegetable, spice to cooking oil — is about to get its moment. Heat is hot, and this multifarious member of the cabbage family represents a vast, underexplored source of culinary heat. Look for sharp, peppery Indian mustard oil, spicy-salty Sichuanese pickled mustard greens and pungent-sweet Italian fruit mustards. We’re all about to learn that this genuinely global ingredient is much more than a hot dog condiment.
In 2012, condiment mustard will be made from scratch (it’s so easy) by more home cooks and chefs, mustard seeds will be pickled and scattered over all things rich and porky; mustard oil will move beyond Indian (and Korean and Chinese) kitchens, becoming a common cooking and seasoning oil (it makes a great salad dressing); and the greens, so healthy and so long neglected, will be next year’s kale.
More Top Food Trends of 2012: