Friday, September 17, 2010

Frugal Plan Ahead Meals. Storing & Reheating. 2M Cats!

"A way for the frugal RVer to control food costs.
Keeping food costs down can also result in keeping time spent in the galley reduced providing more time for other pursuits.
Here's a tip for the rolling chef: When preparing meals, consider if your menu choices can be prepared in larger portions and reprised at a later date.
Can you make double or triple portions, and put the leftovers in the freezer? You'll save on time, often on ingredients, and later, after a long day on the road, your frozen meals can be popped in the microwave or gently reheated while left in the bag and warmed up in a pan of water."

These are planned pre-cooked meals, not left-overs, and it works in a stix and brix, too!

I learned as a Certified Food Manager that when you refrigerate or freeze pre-cooked foods that they should be in a low flat containers, not a tall ones.  The flat low containers cool quicker, which gets the food to 38°, for refrigerators, or 0° for freezers, faster.  I prefer square ones, instead of round, because they take up less space.
I have a stack of 25 oz Glad/Ziplock containers, and they are just about the right size.  When we packed down the motor home, we would grab as many pre-cooked meals as we needed, and kept them in the freezer.  Some would have meat, some pre-cooked veggies, some would be casserole type things.

I have never been able to use the gas part of my RV refrigerator as it stinks, and gives me a headache.  The RV Service place tried to fix it, calling it cabinet leak, so we run with the fridge off.  Safer for the propane to be off, too.  All the frozen foods stayed frozen during the day while we were traveling.  Sometimes on a long trip we used an inverter and had it on electricity, but we rarely traveled that far in a day.  It is counter productive, as it is too wearing, so you don't enjoy the trip.  Better to check in at a CG early afternoon anyway.

Now, as for warming the food up when we arrived.

"For microwaving in particular, remember that microwave safe containers aren’t necessarily healthy. They just won’t melt. In general, it’s better to avoid microwaving plastic entirely and stick to glass."

I don't reheat in the microwave, you have to stir it after it has cooked for a while before reading the temperature, and then put it back in again for a while, so I just put it in a pot and put it on the stove.  Then I can easily read the temperature with my food thermometer and make sure it is up to 160°.

The bottom line

"Here are some things to keep in mind when using the microwave:
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: Leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.
  • Don’t allow plastic wrap to touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, or white paper towels are alternatives.
  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for microwave oven use. "

Migrating chemicals

"When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, substances used in manufacturing the plastic (plasticizers) may leak into the food. In particular, fatty foods such as meats and cheeses cause a chemical called diethylhexyl adipate to leach out of the plastic. This certainly sounds scary, so it’s little wonder that a warning is making its way across the Web.
But here’s what the e-mails don’t mention. The FDA, recognizing the potential for small amounts of plasticizers to migrate, closely regulates plastic containers and materials that come into contact with food. The FDA  requires that manufacturers test these containers and that those tests meet FDA standards and specifications.  It then review the test data before approving a container. "

More from Harvard Medical School:

I would rather just not put plastic containers, or even warm anything in the microwave, except coffee!
Most plastic containers have a number stamped on the bottom, so here's the list from SCN Home Page   Seattle Community Network:

Type 1 - polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
May be safe if marked "microwave safe", although some recommend against food contact when microwaving.

Type 2 - high density polyethylene (HPDE)
May be safe, although some recommend against food contact when microwaving.

Type 3 - PVC, polyvinyl chloride, vinyl
Do not use in microwave. Also, PVC often contains bisphenol A (BPA)

Type 4 - low density polyethylene (LDPE)
(mixed commentary regarding microwave safety)

Type 5 - polypropylene
May be safe, although some recommend against food contact when microwaving. "Type 5" are the most commonly labeled "microwave safe". Despite this, I have observed "Type 5" containers with partially dissolved surfaces, apparently from microwave use.

Type 6 - polystyrene, styrene, polystyrene foam
Not heat stable. Do not use in microwave.   Do not microwave food in a styrofoam [1] container! In addition to not being heat stable, polystyrene is a potential human carcinogen and usually contains bisphenol A (BPA).

Type 7 - polycarbonate; "other" (can contain bisphenol A (BPA); most polycarbonate contains bisphenol A)
Do not use in microwave. (Note: Polycarbonate nursing bottles which have been boiled or washed more than 20 times or are badly scratched should be thrown out.)

Paper - food safe but Avoid using paper coated with plastic in the microwave.
(Some types of paper may catch on fire under some circumstances. Some sources suggest avoiding using newsprint. Paper which is not food grade may also include toxic inks.)

Never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil in the microwave.
If you use plastic wrap in a microwave, read the label -- use only materials marked "safe for microwave". If it doesn't say "microwave safe" there's no reason to presume it is! Most wraps also require a one-inch or greater space (2.5 cm) between the food and the wrap.
More at:


When I went to Splendora the other day, I was out in the country, and when I was backing out of the dirt driveway, a thick cloud of dust blew all over the front of my van.  The "check engine" light came on immediately, but I didn't look into it until today.  I had just recently had that fixed, and bought new sensors.

Ray and I took the air filter out, and it seemed clean, but we blew it out with the compressor anyway.  Then we disconnected the battery, to reset the computer.  While we had the terminals undone, we cleaned and sprayed them, and checked all the fluids, except the tranny.

I wasn't going to go back inside to get my purse and drivers license, so I didn't start the van up to see if the "check engine' light had gone out.   If it does come on again, it usually waits until I am a mile or so from the house!

While we were working on the van, a young skinny orange tabby male cat come wandering up, so we crated it, so I could call Animal Control to come and get it.  Then a gray young cat came, followed by a white one, and another orange tabby one, then another orange tabby.  They were not all the same age, but they were all starving, and were grateful for some food.  They were all tame, so someone must have dumped them.  So by the time Animal Control arrived, I had five stray cats for them.

One cat makes 400,000 cats in ten years, so I saved 2 million  homeless cats being born today.


pidge said...

I often make food ahead and freeze it, but we are a big fan of leftovers too. My motto is: "Waste not, Want not". I came from a poor up-bringing and we were taught very early in life to not waste food. Thanks for all the info on microwaving. I too use the stove most of the time. Stay safe.

Gypsy said...

Thank you for seeing that those cats weren't left to run, scrounge for food, and procreate!

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comments, Pidge and Gypsy.

Pidge, I came from folks who had money, because they were very frugal.
"To have more money, spend less".
My grandparents raised me for several years, but they left my mother all their savings, which was quite a tidy sum. She went through that money like a hot knife through butter! My brothers and I were each given $200. We have taken after our grandparents, and we try to fix instead of replace, and be careful with money.

Yes, Gypsy, that is the whole idea, to stop them from making more kittykats. If only people would spay and neuter their pets.


Our local shelter spays and neuters before adoption. Today's cats were all very sweet and pretty, I hope they get good homes.

Happy Trails, Penny, TX