Saving Time and Money when preparing food!
If you are busy, or you simply don't enjoy cooking every night for an hour or more, try some of these time-saving tips.
Meat & Poultry
- Get to the meat department early in the morning, they usually have items marked down. Buy in larger quantities and freeze.
- Buy Local! If you are lucky enough to have a farm close by, contact them about purchasing in bulk, they will be happy to provide you with their prices.
- If you have a local meat market, check out what deals they offer when you buy in bulk. Some will offer freezer boxes where you get a discount for buying a large quantity of a variety of meats. It may be a lot out of pocket in one shot but will save you money in the long run.
Fruit & Veggies
- Check the discount section in your produce department. There are usually Bananas, Peppers, Apples, etc...these are great items to take home, slice up and freeze. Use them in baking & smoothies or casseroles & soups.
- Only purchase what you will use, but remember there are ways to freeze produce for later use.
- Plant a garden! Fresh in-season veggies that won't cost more than a few pennies, and a little love and labor on your part! You will have lots and need to have plans for using/preparing the fruits of your labor when they are ripened.
- Yogurt is great to freeze. If your child likes yogurt tubes, freeze them for longer storage (you can stock up on a good sale!) and then put one in their lunch for school. It will thaw out in time for Lunch!
- Lots of snack foods come pre-packaged for school/individual servings. To save on money - Why not buy the box of crackers and make up your own snack bags. You can reuse your bags for crackers, cookies, and other non-oily foods. Just rinse them out and let dry.
- Buy pudding mix or make it from scratch (makes a larger quantity for le$$). Use resealable containers to send to school with your child.
- For Salads: If you are like me, you hate cutting up veggies every day to make a salad...so do it all at once. I come home from grocery shopping and cut ALL my veggies and store in plastic containers. Even my lettuce is cut up and stored (I have a Tupperware container that keeps it from wilting, it's awesome and well worth the money). Cut up tomatoes, cucumber, string beans, peppers, broccoli, etc...then, when you want a salad, just grab a little of this, and a little of that, and your salad is divine!
- Soups, Stir Fry and Casseroles: I always try to make things in bulk when I get home from shopping, but sometimes there is just not the chance to cook up everything. I love to cut up the veggies I cannot use right away and freeze them. Again, try to portion them in freezer bags so it is easier to just take out 1 or 2 bags to add to a recipe. You can even brown/caramelize onions and once it cools, put in bags to freeze and use later.
Meat and Poultry
- Poultry: We eat a large quantity of chicken. When I buy chicken, most of it gets cooked when I get home. Some I baste with salad dressing or top with an herb mixture, and some are plain (just brushed with a little olive oil). I cook them and slice it up to freeze. When I want Chicken on a salad, I grab a bag from the freezer, thaw it in the microwave and toss it on my salad. I also use it in recipes that call for cooked chicken (casseroles mainly). We use it in our pitas, sandwiches, and wraps as well. HUGE time saver!!!
- Ground Meat: Almost EVERY recipe containing ground meet asks you to brown it...so why not buy in bulk, brown it all up, and put in containers for later use. Store it by the pound, so you know what you need when you go to use it in a recipe.
- Shredded cheese: Buy block cheese and shred it yourself. It's cheaper and you will have it on hand when you need it. Buy one block to shred, and slice the other one for use on sandwiches, crackers, snacks, etc... (Parmesan cheese is pricey to buy, but if you purchase the block and shred it yourself, it is way more affordable, and it lasts for a long time)
For Soups: I LOVE to use fresh veggies when I make soups, so I get the not so perfect ones on the discount rack. They are often a little overripe, which actually means they are teeming with flavour. Make a big pot of soup and freeze in portion size containers. We are a family of 3, so I have containers that hold what we would eat at a meal, as well as some single-serving ones to have for lunches.
Sauces: Make pasta sauces and Chilli in bulk and freeze. It is so nice to come home and toss your pasta under some hot water to thaw, and grab the Spaghetti sauce out of the freezer to thaw in the microwave...toss together and in 10 minutes you have dinner made and a lot less mess to clean up!