I recently came up with a quick curried chickpea recipe, which includes 1/2 cup of tomato juice. I had in my freezer a few 1/2 cup portions of tomato juice drained from canned, "no salt added" diced tomatoes. These were saved from a bean recipe calling for drained diced tomatoes, and set aside for later use in my split pea soup recipe. When I used the last serving of tomato juice, and wasn't planning to drain canned tomatoes in the near future, I knew I needed to find a solution.
Later that week, I went to the grocery store, and read the ingredients on bottled tomato juice. I wasn't happy with the sodium levels, added preservatives, and the price per ounce. I walked over to the aisle that houses canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. The canned tomatoes have likeable ingredients, but I rarely drain them. The tomato sauce is not the right consistency, along with many herbs and spices, which can add the wrong tomato flavor to dals and soups. When I looked at the can of tomato paste, I remembered my split pea soup recipe that calls for 1/2 cup tomato juice, or "1 Tablespoon tomato paste + 1/2 cup water". DING!!!
So, here is what I did: I purchased one 12 ounce can of tomato paste for $1.15.
I got out my 1 Tablespoon measure and began portioning out the tomato paste onto pieces of plastic wrap.
I was able to wrap 16 Tablespoons-worth of tomato paste! Add to that the 1 Tablespoon I used in a recipe, for a total of 17 Tablespoons from one 12 ounce can.
I placed all the wrapped Tablespoons of tomato paste into a ziptop bag that was pre-labeled with use instructions.
Now the bag is ready to go into the freezer! This week, when I make a small batch of chickpea dal, I can simply grab and unwrap a Tablespoon portion of tomato paste, add 1/2 cup of water, and move on!
Not only does this method avoid added salt and preservatives, but the price per Tablespoon is roughly $.07. Healthy and frugal!