Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Bacon

I don't know about you, but I love bacon. The only problem is that it is really expensive for a food that isn't terribly healthy and mostly adds flavor and fat. For us bacon is a "sometimes food". Most of the time I keep an eye on the sales and look for coupons, but sometimes I really luck out. You see, I don't care if my bacon is pretty, or uniform, I just like the flavor so I keep my eyes out for "bacon ends and pieces". Not every store carries them, but if the store you go to cuts their own bacon keep an eye out for it. The ends and pieces are the slices that are too short, too thick or thin, the ends from pieces that are too long, etc. The are whatever is leftover that isn't perfect, but they are still bacon and generally cost half as much as the normal kind. Sometimes you'll get bits that are mostly fat and other times you'll get big hearty bits that are more like ham than bacon. You can either eat them as is and enjoy the variety (which is my favorite way) or chop up the bits you don't like and use them on salad, in omelets, on pizza, etc.

The other tip I have is to save the bacon grease after you cook bacon. All you need is a glass jar that you can keep in the fridge. After you cook your bacon pour off the grease into the jar and save it in the fridge for later. By saving it you are saving it instead of pouring it down the drain you are saving money and your drain at the same time. This may sound silly and a little overly frugal, but bacon grease has a great flavor and can really enhance a lot of dishes and the bacon grease is free (once you've already bought the bacon) while butter, margarine and oil have to be purchased. Instead of scrambling or frying your eggs with a little bit of butter try bacon grease. Then you can get the flavor of bacon without actually making fresh bacon (or eating all those extra calories). It is also great for frying greens, the flavor of the bacon really pairs well with the more bitter greens and can help take the bite out of them. Next time you want an interesting, and cheap, side dish try using some of that bacon grease to fry up potatoes, add a little garlic powder or season salt for a dish that really says "comfort food". There are so many places that using bacon grease in place of butter or oil can enhance the flavor of the meal while cutting the cost just a bit (especially if you use real butter).

How about you? Have you heard of bacon ends and pieces? Do you save your bacon grease for use in later meals? If so what is your favorite use for bacon grease?

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