Please join me in welcoming a guest blogger today! Her name is Heidi, and we’re living almost parallel lives in very different climates (she’s sweating down in AZ, but we won’t talk about that when it’s 30 below here in MN…)! When we chat, we always seem to find ourselves saying, “Me too!”
Heidi writes about family, faith, and all things domestic on her blog, Heidi @ Home. I love reading what she has to say and have learned so much from her about things like fair trade. And, her family does their own Food Shelf Friday style menu by eating rice and beans for dinner every Monday night. So when I crashed at the end of my first week back at grad school AND an increased work schedule, Heidi saved me by sharing this awesome, practical post. Thanks Heidi!
6 Ways to Save Time AND Money
I’m not Martha Stewart and I don’t claim to be anything other than a Domestic Diva Wannabe, but last night I was having a conversation with a friend on Facebook about ways to save time and money, when it comes to making dinner.
My friend works full time and has a 2 year old. By the time she gets home from work she has about 90 minutes to make dinner, eat dinner and then get her daughter in bed. My position in life is a bit different because I stay at home with my two kids, but I still don’t want to spend any more time doing prep work than I have to since I have two “helpers” underfoot and nobody to keep them busy while I’m cooking. Also, I’m just lazy.
During our brainstorming session here are a few of the things we discussed:
Do prep work once
*Does your recipe call for only half of an onion? Cut up the entire onion, stick the unused half in the freezer and save for later.
*Are you marinating meat to put on the grill tonight? Make a double batch of marinade. Use one batch tonight and fill a Ziploc with the other half, stick the meat in it and freeze. When you go to defrost the meat later it’ll already be marinated and ready to cook. This is one of my favorite marinades and I almost always have it in my freezer.
Freeze fruits and veggies when they’re on sale
*This goes along with only doing prep work once. My kids LOVE to snack on red bell peppers. This year I have been able to buy them in season for 3 for $1. Out of season the same peppers cost at least $1.50/each. When they’re in season, and on sale, I buy about 10-15 peppers and then slice them. I spread the sliced peppers onto a cookie sheet and freeze. Once solid I transfer the peppers into a Ziploc bag. Later I can reach in and grab my kids a couple to snack on or throw them into a recipe like fajitas or soup.
*I use this same method with berries. I wash the berries and spread them on a cookie sheet to freeze. I slice strawberries before freezing, but leave blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries whole. Once they’re frozen I put them in a Ziploc. Later I use the frozen berries to make smoothies for my kids or to add to hot oatmeal.
Cook in bulk
*I cook 5-6 chicken breasts at a time. We’ll eat two for dinner that night and then I dice the others and freeze them in single serve portions so I can add the meat later to soups, chilis, enchiladas, salads, pasta, etc. In addition to the time savings of having pre-cooked chicken on hand, I’m saving money because I’m able to buy when meat is on sale and I’m only using the electricity to heat my oven once. I am also saving time because I only have to do dishes once.
*As one of the original members of the Funky Freezer Girls I am a huge fan of freezer cooking. You don’t have to do Once A Month Cooking or be part of an exchange group in order to make your life easier using your freezer. If you make your own pasta sauce, make a double batch and freeze half by putting it in a Ziploc bag and laying it flat in your freezer until frozen. If you make enchiladas, lasagna, or another casserole that goes in an 9×13 pan place the recipe in 2 8×8 pans. Stick one pan in the oven for dinner that night and the other in the freezer for later. The night before you’re going to have your freezer meal, put it in the fridge to defrost and pop it in the oven after work.
This is, in no way a comprehensive list, but I pray it’ll help you get the creative juices flowing in ways that you can save yourself time, stress and money. Just because you don’t have time to cook doesn’t mean you have to eat out or eat processed food!