Food Saver Series: Breadcrumbs

Welcome to the last post of the food saver series!

Making breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are super versatile – you can make breading for chicken nuggets, use in meatloaf or make a yummy topping for casseroles from them. The best part – they are really easy to make, and the help save money and food -because you can use the ends of loafs, even stale bread!

The other good thing – you can mix and match. I have used white sandwich bread, sourdough, hamburger and hotdog buns, even bagels and english muffins. When we find that we have just a little left or that they have gone a bit stale, I pop them in the freezer. When I get enough saved, I pull them out and let them come to room temperature then tear them into uniform sizes.

Then I dry torn pieces of bread in 250 degree over for 20-40 minutes. You will need to check about halfway thru and mix it up a little so that they all dry evenly. Once done, pull them out and let them cool. I go through them then and check the pieces (sounds like it takes a long time, but it really doesn’t), they should be nice and crisp. If not pop them back in for a little bit.

After they are all dry, I use my food processor and process them until they reach the size I like. Once reached they are placed in a storage container until they are needed.

Easy and it saves food, which also means it will save money – it’s a win, win!

What do you use breadcrumbs for?

-Dawn

Food Saver Series: Potatoes

Dry in slices or make hashbrowns + a bonus idea!

Welcome back to the Food Saver Series! Today I am saving potatoes…or as it is in our house, one of the 5 food groups…the others which are coffee, chocolate, pasta and meat!

– just kidding, I could go without meat – but don’t try to take my chocolate or coffee! –

Dried Potatoe Slices

Anyway, back to the task at hand. To dry potatoes in slices you will want to wash them, then decided if you want them with or without skins. If you want the skins left on proceed to the next step, if you don’t want them, you will need to peel them, then cut them into uniform slices, I opt for about 1/8-1/4. To make this job a little easier I use a mandolin.

Just remember, when using one – Be careful! – and pay attention to what you are doing. A few years back I was slicing a carrot with one and wasn’t paying full attention to what I was doing and sliced off a bit of skin on my pinkie – I have a nice ellipse of scar tissue to remind me of my stupidity.

After the slices have been cut, I place them into a cold water until all are done. This will keep them from browning. Once all are cut you will want to blanche them for 5 minutes and then plunge them in ice water bath. Spread them onto drying sheets and dry for 8-10 hours.

Dried Grated Potatoes

To dry potatoes to make hashbrowns you will want to wash them, then decided if you want them with or without skins. If you want the skins left on proceed to the next step, if you don’t want them, you will need to peel them. After that it is time to shred them with a grater. My mandolin also has this plate so I use it, but if needed you could use a box grater. again, once they are grated, I put them in cold water to keep them from turning brown. Then just like the slices you will want to blanche them for 2 minutes. A metal strainer helps a ton, or you will be chasing them all over the pot trying to get them out.

Once done plunge them in ice water bath, then let them drain. Spread them onto drying sheets and dry for 2-4 hours. Check on them every now and then and break up any clumps to ensure everything is drying.

**Bonus** You can also make frozen hashbrowns this way. After they are blanched, you will want to pat them dry with a paper towel then spread them on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Once they are frozen, break them up and place them in freezer bags.

I hope you have a great day.

-Dawn

Food Saver Series: Peas and Broccoli

Ok, I am going to admit it -this is a cheat. I love to garden, but peas have always given my problems. And the broccoli, I usually grow it in the spring and fall, but we usually don’t have any extra to put away – so I thought it would be good to show how to dry frozen – bought – food.

This is a great option for when your local store is having a good sale. When we get one, I buy in bulk.

When drying already frozen food you have a couple things to remember – one, you don’t have to blanche the food. Which saves time. And two, before freezing it, it will need to be fully thawed. I usually pull out whatever I am planning to dry out of the freezer the night before and put in in the fridge so it can thaw overnight.

Drying Peas:

Once thawed, place peas on drying rack that has a mesh screen (peas can be very small when dry). They will need to dry for 8-10 hours.

Drying Broccoli:

Once thawed, I cut large pieces of broccoli into smaller pieces – making the pieces a bit more uniform. Then place them on the drying rack and dry for 6-8 hours.

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And that’s it, remember I told you that if I could do it anyone could!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry potatoes!

Food Saver Series: Carrots

Drying carrots

I will admit I was hoping to can a bunch of carrots this year, but honestly, I just don’t have any room in our pantry. So, the next best way to save them is to dry them. The good thing about dried carrots – like other dried foods – is that they don’t take up a lot of room once dried. Which is perfect for an overflowing pantry!

To dry carrots you can either peel them or wash them very well, and slice them into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Blanche for 3 minutes and plunge in ice water bath. Then spread them onto drying sheets and dry for 6-8 hours.

And that’s it – they are pretty straight forward to do!

-Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry and peas and broccoli from frozen!

Food Saver Series: Apples

Dried apple slices and freezing applesauce and apple pie filling

We have an apple tree, but yet to see any fruit come off it. Luckily, we have wonderful neighbors that have one, a beautiful mature Gravenstein – and they don’t want the apples. Or at least they don’t want all the apples that it tends to produce. So, every year I gladly take my picker over and with the help of my husband and daughter we pick hundreds of apples. These apples are so yummy and make the best died apples, applesauce and apple pie filling.

Drying Apples:

Wash the apples well, the tree we get ours from is not treated with any pesticides, so that’s one good thing, but the apples do tend to get gnawed on by critters, so after I wash them, each gets inspected to make sure it’s ok. I then use my mandolin (be careful not to cut yourself!) and slice them into 1/4-inch pieces. Dunk them in a lemon water bath and place them on the dehydrator. You can dry them as is, or what I like to do is add a little cinnamon on top then dry them. They will need to dry for 6-8 hours.

To make applesauce/apple pie filling:

For applesauce:

Wash and cut all apples, place them in a heavy pot and add just a little water – like 1/4-1/2 cup water. Just enough to keep them from scorching. Then cover and cook until soft, stir occasionally. A large pot usually takes less then 30 minutes. As you will note I do not remove the skins and depending on the apples I don’t add sugar to the applesauce. Once the apples are cooked, I process the apples through my food processor until it reaches the consistency that I want.

For apple pie filling:

Wash and cut all apples, place them in a heavy pot and add just a little water – like 1/4-1/2 cup water. Just enough to keep them from scorching. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice to the pot with the apples and cover and cook until soft, stir occasionally. A large pot usually takes less then 30 minutes. As you will note I do not remove the skins, once the apples are done, I process the apples through my food processor until it reaches the consistency that I want. I usually let the pie filling be a bit chunkier than the applesauce.

For both applesauce and apple pie filling:

After the sauce and pie filling are all processed, I placed 2 cups or processed apples into quart freezer bags.

Applesauce

Apple pie filling is amazing when made into little pies – I posted a how to make them on the Easy Apple Hand Pies.

Have a great day!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry carrots!

Food Saver Series: Corn

Drying and freezing corn – 2 ways

Every year I plant corn, it is a staple in our house. The good thing is that even in years where we get a bumper crop we can easily save it for later.

Drying Corn:

To dry corn you will need to blanche them first for 5 minutes on the cob, plunge into ice water bath. Cut the kernels off the cob and spread on drying tray. You will want to use a mesh drying tray because once dry the corn is quite small. They will take 8-12 hours to dry.

Freezing Corn:

Whole corn cobs:

To freeze whole corn cobs you will need to blanche the whole cobs 5-6 minutes, five for small, six for larger. Plunge into ice water bath. Wrap each cob individually in plastic wrap and place in plastic freezer bags. Depending on the size of the cobs, I can usually get 4-5 per 1 gallon plastic bag.

Freezing corn kernels:

To freeze kernels you will start by blanching also. Blanche whole cobs 5-6 minutes, five for small, six for larger. Plunge into ice water bath, cut the kernels off the cob and spread on baking sheets lined with wax paper or freezer safe silicon mat.

Have a great day!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry apples and how to make and freeze applesauce and apple pie filling!

Food Saver Series: Tomatoes

Drying tomatoes and making tomato powder.

I know, drying tomatoes isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think about saving them. But when you have a smaller crop, or just don’t want to pull out a canner, it helps to have an alternative way to save them.

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Drying Tomatoes:

For cherry/pear tomatoes: wash and cut in half. Place on dehydrator and dry up to 24 hours. They have a lot of water in them so they will take a long time. You can help them out by scooping some of the seeds out, leaving just the flesh.

For large tomatoes: Wash the tomatoes and then cut them into thin slices, approx. 1/4 inch. place them on the dehydrator and dry up to 24 hours. Once again, lots of water. you can help them out by scooping some of the seeds out, leaving just the flesh.

Making Tomato Powder:

To make tomato powder you take your dry tomato slices and run them thru the food processor. The more you process it the finer the powder will become. I keep 2 jars of powder. One is a fine powder that I use to make sauce/paste from. The other jar is of slightly larger pieces that I throw into soups and chilis.

I hope you find this helpful.

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry and freeze corn!

Food Saver Series: Onions

Drying onions and making onion powder.

The only thing hard about drying onions is cutting them.

If you have ever cut an onion, you know that it can make you weepy in a hurry. My advice, use a fan to blow fresh air into the area you are working in, directed right at you. I did hear that breathing thru your mouth helped. I did try it and it helped a bit, but I still felt the irritation.

I did want to mention that you can also freeze onions, by cutting them and placing them on a lined cookie sheet and popping them into the freezer. I don’t do this. I probably should, I have heard that it does saves time. When I am cooking though, it is a bit of ‘me time’. And so, I don’t worry about it and just chop them as needed.

Anyway – on to drying onions!

Drying Onions:

To dry onions you peel the onions, then cut them into even slices, usually 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Pull the rings apart and place them on the dehydrator rack. They will take up to 8 hours to dry. When dry they will be hard and a bit fragile.

To make onion powder:

To make onion powder you take the onions that you just dried and put them in a food processor. Process them till you reach the consistency that you want. I don’t like to make ours into a full powder, so I stop when it’s just finely ground.

I hope you have a great day!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry and powder tomatoes!

Food Saver Series: Green Beans

Drying and freezing green beans

Hi and welcome back to the Food Saver series! Today I am talking about green beans! Drying and freezing to be exact. Usually, I try to can 2-3 batches every year on top of freezing and drying, but this year it has a been a bit strange and I didn’t get as many green beans as normal for a couple main reasons (and one or eight short fluffy reasons). One, everything seemed to come on a bit slow. I did talk to other gardeners in the area, and they too noticed that the plants just seemed a little “off” this year – I figured that that’s good that it wasn’t just me, I was starting to get a bit paranoid thinking the garden had it out for me this year!

The other reason was that early in the spring I had a bit of blight on some plants and ended up pulling them out and burning them. Luckily, I caught it early enough and it didn’t spread to the other plants. And our eight fluffy reasons were our ducks. Mainly our boys, they have an affinity for bean leaves – not the beans mind you – just the leaves! Next year I am planning for high levels security around the beans!

washed and cut beans

Drying Green Beans:

I will admit right now that I think one of the most tedious, boring jobs in the world is cutting green beans. But I have two choices: I can do it myself or I can go to the store and buy a can and pay for the convenience of having someone else do it. The poor girl in me says “cut the stinkin thing!“…sigh

The good thing is while I was looking at recipes, I came across a blogger that was mentioning that they use kitchen shears to trim the ends and cut the beans…genius! I had never even thought about scissors – so I tried it, and even through it’s still not my favorite job in the world it’s a lot faster, and my daughter can even do it! So, thank you to whoever you were since I spaced checking out the name of the blog – but Thank you!

blanched beans

To dry beans you will need blanch them. Start by washing them off and cutting them into uniform pieces. Then bring water to a boil and put them in the water for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes you will pull them out and put them in an ice bath (ice and water) to stop the cooking process. Then drain them and place them on the dehydrator racks for 10-12 hours. They will be hard when fully dry.

dry beans

Freezing Green Beans:

Up until this year I had always blanched green beans before freezing. But this year I was reading over an article that said that it wasn’t necessary. So, I thought I would try it and compare the blanched vs the unblanched frozen beans. My wonderful family were the guinea pigs for the experiment. Honestly, we couldn’t tell a difference. Maybe if they were in the freezer for a long period of time you could tell, but after a week in the freezer they seemed the same.

That makes life lot easier! I am always up for ways to save time!

To freeze the beans, I washed and cut the beans (with shears!) and let them drain. Then I dumped them onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Popped them into the freezer and the next day pulled them out and bagged them up.

It’s my new favorite method to save green beans!

frozen beans

Hope you found this helpful.

-Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry Onions and make onion powder!

Food Saver Series: Summer Squash

Drying and freezing summer squash

Got squash? This time of the year I think everyone does. It is not uncommon around our parts to see gardeners that have set up little ‘freebie’ tables in their yards and the only thing on them is summer squash. And it leaves me to tell a story of a few years ago when my little girl was just 2. We had noticed that a volunteer plant had started to grow in a bad area of the garden (i.e. walkway!).

Anyway, my daughter wanted to keep it, so I suggested we move it. Before I could get to it, she had it out of the ground. I figured – ok, it wasn’t going to grow too much, if it even lived after the way she yanked it out. So, I had her put it in another area (another walkway, but not as necessary), told her to make sure to water it. Long story short, the stinking thing took over! And has, to this day, been the top producer of summer squash that we have ever had in our garden.

I was giving away pounds upon pounds to anyone and everyone who wanted it. And pretty much got on a first name basis with the local food bank because I was dropping squash off to them on a weekly basis.

Now, there is no way I could have ever tried to save all the squash we got that year, but every year I do tend to put up a good amount. My preferred methods are drying and freezing. Though I will note – that if you are wanting to make pickles and are running low on cucumbers, zucchini is a great stand in. I have made many a jar of pickled zucchini and they taste just the same as if you were using cucumbers.

Drying Summer Squash:

To dry zucchini I use a dehydrator. The process is pretty simple, wash your vegetables and cut into even slices, usually 1/4-1/2 inch. They can be whole rounds or if they are too big, I cut them in half or even 4th’s. After they are all cut place them on the dehydrator. It will take 6-12 hours to dry them fully. I try to start them in the morning and before bed they are usually all done.

Freezing Summer Squash:

The process to freeze summer squash is essentially the same as drying but instead of placing the slices on the dehydrator I placed them on baking sheets that have been lined with wax paper or a freezer safe silicon mat. The slices usually only take a few hours to fully freeze and once done they can be placed in a freezer bag.

I will note that for freezing I try to use the smallest squash that I can find, usually, 6-8 inches long. This is just my personal preference, I just think they hold together better.

I hope this helps you with any extra squash you may have – have a great weekend!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry and freeze green beans!

Food Saver Series: Tea Herbs

Chamomile, Lemon Balm and Echinacea

I love to dry tea herbs – for one they are as easy to dry as regular herbs, and two I know with every batch that gets done I will have wonderful tea to enjoy all winter. Not to mention it also makes a great gift!

Drying Chamomile:

To dry Chamomile you can either snip off or pinch off the blooms. I find that just pinching them off is a whole lot easier, mainly because they are so small. After I harvest, I let them dry on a plate in a warm area – usually by an open window on a hot day. A couple times a day I will roll them around just a little bit to make sure they are drying ok. It usually only takes a few days for them to dry completely, and you can usually tell when they are done because they fall apart pretty easily. If there is any doubt, leave them out a little longer.

Drying chamomile flowers

Once dry I pour them into a pint mason jar and use them as needed.

dry chamomile ready to use

Lemon Balm

Drying Lemon Balm:

Lemon Balm is very easy to dry. I cut the leaves and lay them out on a plate. Since they are thin, within just a day or two they will be dry. I think it is very appropriate that they are easy to dry since they make a very soothing tea…

Drying Echinacea:

Drying Echinacea takes a bit longer. For Echinacea tea you can use the flowers, stems, leaves and roots. The roots are usually made into medicinal powders. I want the plants to return year after year, so I just trim the flowers and cut some leaves off.

The flowers of Echinecea can be quite large, but the petals and leaves dry fairly quickly. When I am harvesting Echinacea I use my cooling racks for baking, I cut the flowers off and stick the stem down through the wire, so that the head is up. This way when the leaves dry, they are a bit easier to pull off the main part of the flower.

After the flowers are dry you can also save the seeds and plant more next year.

drying Echinacea

dry Echinacea

Happy tea making!

Dawn

Check back next Friday when I talk about how to dry and freeze summer squash!

Pantry Staples…

…to help you and your family get through tough times.

Six months ago, I could go to the grocery store and buy our families staple foods for the week (milk, eggs, fresh fruits/vegetables, bread, meat, and cereal) for about $50. My last trip cost $80. Hmm, not good, especially since we are on a budget. What’s sad is that it is not looking go back down anytime soon. It’s forecast to just keep going up.

So, to help combat the crazy food prices I decided to keep a stocked pantry. Cook hearty meals at home and when good deals come my way use them the best way I could.

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Remember this is just what I try to keep on hand in our pantry. Your pantry should reflect what you and your family eat.

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Here’s a starter list of foods to keep handy in your pantry.

  • Bottled water
  • Dry beans/lentils (a variety – and learn how to cook with them if you don’t know how to)
  • Dry pasta
  • Rice
  • Baking essentials: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar
  • Dry milk
  • Oil of choice (canola, olive, powdered butter, etc.)
  • Canned meat (beef, chicken, tuna)
  • Canned vegetables/fruit
  • Chicken/Beef/Vegetable stock – or bouillon powder
  • Spices
  • Convenience foods (baking mixes, canned soups, chilis, stews, pastas, crackers)
  • Cereal
  • Honey, syrup, jams
  • Peanut butter (or other nut butter if anyone has an allergy in your family)
  • Coffee, tea, electrolyte drinks – I also keep a box of “Emergen-C
  • Quick snack bars (protein bars, granola bars, breakfast cereal bars, etc.)
  • Jerky
  • Dry fruit and vegetables
  • Fresh garlic, onions, potatoes and in the fall and winter we have winter squash and pumpkins
  • Candy/comfort food (ever now and then you just need a cookie!)
  • Animal food – we have a dog and ducks so we keep an extra bag for them.
  • **vitamins
  • **If you have an infant you will need to have formula, baby food
  • **Special food needs, gluten free, allergies, etc.

Other ways to combat high food prices is to get myself a good collection of recipes – that my family likes (that the main thing!)- that use low-cost ingredients, most of these contain beans and pasta. And to use what is on sale at our local store that week.

I really hope this helps you and your family. Good luck!

Dawn

Food Saver Series: Herbs

Basil, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley and Chives

Drying herbs is one of the easiest – and tastiest – ways to save food. The nice thing about it is that there is a variety of different ways you can dry them. You can use a dehydrator, use a drying rack, hang bunches of herbs from hooks, leave on a plate, or I even tend to use my cooling racks for baking. Remember no matter which way you dry them; you need to keep an eye on them. Some dry faster than others. And when they are all dry pop them into an airtight container to keep them fresh.

Drying Basil:

Basil – I grow a variety

For Basil, I use a dehydrator, mainly because our Basil is usually very plentiful, and I dry a lot of it. I make sure that they are in a single layer with room between each leaf for air circulation. It will take 6-12 hours to dry the leaves in a dehydrator. If the room is warm, it may take less time.

dry Basil

Drying Sage:

I use a dehydrator to dry Sage because the leaves are a bit thicker.

To dry Sage I place the cut leaves on the dehydrator – making sure that they are in a single layer with room between each leaf for air circulation. It will take 10-14 hours to dry Sage leaves in a dehydrator. If the room is warm, it may take less time.

Drying Oregano/Thyme:

I use a dehydrator to dry Oregano and Thyme.

My Oregano and Thyme grow together so it is sometimes hard to pick just one or the other. Either way they are used in the same recipes, so I just harvest both at the same time, essentially, I am making an herb mix.

To dry them I place the cut sprigs on the dehydrator – making sure that they are in a single layer with room between each leaf for air circulation. It will take 6-12 hours for them to dry in a dehydrator. If the room is warm, it may take less time.

Once the sprigs are dry you can strip the leaves off the stem if you want. I tend to just leave them as they are.

Dried Thyme

Drying Parsley:

Out of all the herbs we grow I use Parsley the most. It also makes it the herb I dry the most of. I dry Parsley 2 ways – in a dehydrator or on a cooling rack. The dehydrator will take 6-8 hours, a cooling rack placed somewhere warm will take up to 5 days.

drying parsley

Saving Chives: Freezing and drying

I save Chives 2 ways – I freeze them and dry them.

Freezing Chives:

Freezing Chives is very easy, to freeze them I cut the leaves into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place them in a freezer bag.

Drying Chives:

Dring Chives is just as easy, I dry them in a dehydrator and within 2-6 hours they are done.

Dry Chives

I hope you find these helpful! Check back next Friday – I will be posting about how to dry tea herbs – Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Echinacea!

-Dawn

Introducing a new category on MTdawn: Save Food

Since food prices are doing nothing but going up, I thought I would start a category for great ways to save food…

…and with that comes saving money!

At any time of life, being able to save food from be wasted is wonderful. We are so blessed to be in a country where food is abundant, but if you have checked the grocery store lately you will probably notice that your grocery bill has been doing a steady climb for months now. Making any wasted food hurt a whole lot more than it used to.

So, what do you do?

You save it the best you can. Use leftovers, freeze and/or dry extras from the garden, can meat when you get a great deal on it, even buy in bulk – just make sure you know how to store it.

I remember just a short while ago – at the top of the pandemic craze – that the shelves of flour at the grocery store was empty. Nothing new, I am sure everyone seen something similar no matter where you lived. But during that trip I encountered an older gentleman that just looked at me and said, “I wonder if everyone who bought everything, even knows how to use it?” motioning to the empty shelves. I countered with “Or at least know how to store it.”.

Buying it, and using it are one thing…

…but what if you need to store it for long term?

Thats where MTdawn comes in. I consider all who read my blog to be friends, and I want to help my friends. God has blessed me with wanting to learn how to do this, I figure the best thing for me to do is try to help anyone who wants to learn also.

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I have written posts about saving food in the past, there is Drying garlic and homemade garlic powder, Canning Ground Beef, Canning Chicken, Freezing Strawberries and Freezing Blueberries.

I have also written about meal planning that helps save food, with the post Budget Friendly Meals, which gives you an idea of how to use up leftovers.

And if you checked out Morning Chat from yesterday, I mentioned that I will be starting the Food Saver Series on Friday – that will go for 12 weeks – goodness, it’s gonna be a lot of work – but so worth it! I also mentioned what each week’s post will be about in that chat post. And, all of those posts will be available under the category of: Save Food for easy reference in the future.

I hope you are able to check it out – let me know what you think!

Dawn

Morning Chat 8/23/2022

Good morning! Welcome to Morning Chat for August 23, 2022!

Today I am introducing the..

Good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend and is having a great week!

If you have ever checked in on my little corner before you may have come across some of the other posts that I have wrote for saving food. They are:

But this week I am excited to be debuting a new series – the Food Saver Series. Every Friday, for the next 12 weeks I will be posting about how to dry, can and/or freeze – i.e. SAVE – certain foods/herbs.

I decided to write about saving food for a couple reasons, one, with the information coming in talking about inflation and farming issues, food is just going to keep getting more expensive. Being able to buy in bulk (or grow your own) and knowing how to save the food, will save money. Two, for the most part it is fairly easy. Trust me, if I can do itanyone can do it! Just jump in and give it a go, you never know until you try.

Here is a quick list of the foods/herbs that I will be posting about in order:

  • Herbs (basil, sage, oregano, thyme, parsley, and chives)
  • Tea herbs (chamomile, lemon balm, and echinacea)
  • Summer Squash
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Peas and Broccoli (from frozen)
  • Potatoes
  • Breadcrumbs

I hope you will be able to check them out – have a great day!

Dawn