Build a Frugal Pantry with Tomatoes

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Whether fresh or canned, tomatoes are a great asset to any pantry. They form the basis of great sauces and salsas and add punch to many a dish.

Not only are tomatoes a versatile ingredient, but there is such a wide variety of tomatoes as well. Romas are great for sauces while beefsteak are excellent for fresh eating. And thanks to modern canning techniques you can buy them crushed, pureed, diced, stewed, and sauced.

Depending on when and how you acquire your tomatoes, they can be a very affordable ingredient. During winter time I am regularly able to find canned tomatoes for about $0.40 to $0.50 each. Fresh are usually available in my neck of the woods for $0.88/pound.

During summertime, if we don’t grow them ourselvse, we can get them free from friends’ and family’s gardens. Tomatoes are incredibly easy to grow.There is nothing like a home-grown tomato.

Canned tomatoes can last for quite some time, unopened, in the pantry. Once opened, transfer leftovers to a different dish. Never store food in the can. Use it up with 4 days.

Fresh tomatoes should be store at room temperature. Refrigerating them will kill the flavor. However, once they start to wrinkle, they are approaching spoilage. At that point, refrigerate and use them as quickly as possible. They’ll be best in cooked dishes as opposed to fresh.

What’s a favorite way that YOU use tomatoes?

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About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. jenn says

    i always seem to have a lot of canned tomatoes, mostly from the months my food budget falls a bit short and i have to visit the local food pantry. because of my limited food budget i make a lot of soups to stretch what i have and to use up odds and ends that don’t really go together to make a meal. i usually start by making chicken in a crock pot with broth. when the chicken is falling apart, i take it out and pull all the meat off the bone, shred it up and add it back to the broth. then i add a large can or a couple of small cans of either stewed or dice tomatoes (i chop them up smaller before adding them). i let that cook for a bit then add any frozen vegatables i have on hand, and maybe some canned beans. at the same time i add some type of pasta or rice or barley. when the starch is almost done, i add a can of condensed milk. if i don’t have broth to use when starting the chicken i’ll sometimes use an envelope of onion soup mix. i don’t normally like tomatoes, but i think in soups they really add flavor to the broth.

  2. Lisa says

    My favorite things to do with tomatoes include a veggie stir fry with seasoned bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, and onions, and served on a bed of rice cooked in broth. I also love them on salads.

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