When you’re too poor to be Martha Stewart.

I have great ambitions to be like Martha Stewart, just not with felony charges or jail time.  The woman is a good cook, a great gardener, and she’s crafty.  Oh, so crafty.

However, my wallet does not let me achieve my Martha Stewart dreams.  My grocery budget is $60 a week for a family of five, plus an additional $15 for my ‘stock piling’ needs (you know, replenishing the canned items or baking goods when there’s a really great sale.)  You can’t buy buffalo milk mozzarella cheese or coconut oil when your grocery budget is not in the triple digits.  And so even though I am DYING to make her fish tacos with salsa verde and radish salad, I need to wait for the planets to align so that tilapia, radishes, and cilantro are all on sale at the same time.

However, I have recently done something that makes me feel so much like Martha Stewart, that I walk around telling people, “It’s a good thing,” and I’m considering naming my next cat after a famous composer.  The fact that my brilliant idea is extreme in it’s thriftiness?  Just makes me feel like a superstar.

What idea did I come up with?  Storing lime juice and lime zest!

So many times I see a recipe that calls for a couple tablespoons of fresh lime juice or some lime zest.  And so many times I can’t squeeze in that purchase of a bag of limes into my budget.  ( In the spirit of full disclosure, sometimes I have enough leeway in the budget to buy a couple of limes but I completely forget in my scrambled efforts to keep control over three headstrong children in a large public arena.)

Last week I was at the grocery store, blessedly alone, when I noticed some shelves that were displaying clearance produce items.  There were some sad little onions and neglected red potatoes and a large bag filled with a dozen extremely ripe limes.   The bag filled with limes was only 90 cents.

The part of me that is hopelessly drawn to great deals (roughly 95% of my physical makeup) wouldn’t let me walk away from such a steal.  (The red potatoes smelled bad so they weren’t hard to pass up however.)  I racked my brain for a way to quickly use up the elderly limes before they went bad.  When suddenly it hit me–I didn’t have to use them, I could preserve them.

So I grabbed that bag of discounted citrus fruit and ran off to the check-out counter laughing maniacally the whole way.  (Tip- if you act like a lunatic, people will let you go before them in the check-out lanes.)

How exactly did I preserve those limes?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

First, I spread them out on the table and gloated over them like they were jewels.  This is a very important step, don’t skip it.

Second, I zested the heck out of those poor, innocent limes until they looked like shorn sheep.

Third, I put the zest in a ziplock bag and froze it.  Done!  Now whenever I need lime zest I can pull out the bag from the freezer, add however much I need, and viola!  Mission accomplished.

I then took the sad, little zested limes and I juiced the heck out of them and poured the lime juice into ice cube trays.

I froze the juice and popped the little cubes into a ziplock bag.  Now, whenever I need some lime juice I pull out some frozen cubes and use them.  Each ice cube is approximately 2 and a half tablespoons (did you notice the key word in that sentence?  Approximately.)  I can add them to salsas, soups, or jams.  Salsas, soups, and jams, oh my!

This entire process made me feel smart, frugal, and creative.  Plus, I kept singing, “Can’t Touch This” while I was juicing.  Only I changed M.C. Hammer’s words slightly to sing, “Can’t Touch This, Martha.”

Oh Martha Stewart, you bring out the best and the worst in me.

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5 Responses to When you’re too poor to be Martha Stewart.

  1. Sarah says:

    I love you. You make me smile. And I can totally see you dancing and singing as you zest! =)

  2. All the frugal and crafty parts of me are rejoicing with your success!

  3. thefoodcharlatan says:

    haha. Watch out Ami. I am going to sneak into your house at night and steal your microplane grater. And while I’m at it, some of your awesome ideas too.

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