Do the Cooking

>> Friday, May 14, 2010

This is the next idea in the series for saving money on your grocery budget.  I start out with a disclaimer, lest you get the impression that we do not pull hot dogs, buns and fries out of the freezer on a regular basis.  We do.  And we eat mac and cheese out of the box etc.

However, it is important to remember that food is usually cheapest in the least processed form. Every processing step ups the price tag. For instance, I can pay $1.29 for 2 lbs of large carrots, or I can pay $2.50 for a 2 lb. bag of "baby" carrots, that are already peeled and cut. This is a tricky area, because we are trading time for money.  Time is worth money too, so if it is not worth it to you to peel carrots, fine.  But the general principle is sound and looking for things we can do, will allow us to save money.  Respect savings of a few cents, it all adds up in the end!

One of my favorite ways to apply this is with pre-cooking meat.  It is so convenient, but expensive to buy pre-cooked, frozen chicken breasts,  or pre-cooked bacon, or meat balls.  But all of these things are easy to cook at home, and you can freeze them for a later time.  Take a package of boneless, skinless chicken, season and bake. It takes almost no time for preparation, and you can be busy with something else while it bakes. When it is done, and cooled, you can package it in meal-sized portions, label and freeze.  I love to have already cooked chicken or ground beef in my freezer! 

Another way to do this is to make extra and freeze it.  Children at my house love cookies.  They will eat as many as I bake at any given time, but there are several recipes in my stash that make many dozen, so after I bake part of the dough, I take part and roll it into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap, and pop it in the freezer.  When the next cookie panic sets in, we pull it out, slice it while frozen and bake the exact same way as if it were not  frozen.  I even write the baking instructions on the package, so I don't have to look it up. Work once, eat twice or more. Now we have saved time and money (and, most importantly, we STILL HAVE COOKIES)!

Just some ideas to get you thinking.  I would love to hear how this works in your home!  I am always looking for new ideas too.  I will try to actively point out ways to apply this principle as I add to the blog, so look for them.



Nanette May 14, 2010 at 7:10 AM  

Ok, so we LOVE grilling at my house and I have always wanted to grill an entire package of Sam's Club Chiken and freeze it but my freezing skills are not the greatest. Do you use the zip lock freezer bags? I usually do but then I end up with freezer burn if we don't use it withing a week. Is there a better way? I HATE wasting food.

Jenny May 14, 2010 at 7:25 AM  

Nanette, push all the air out of your packaging. You can also ziplock, then wrap that package in paper or foil to help protect foods. Freeze them in meal size portions because everytime you open your ziplock to take some out, you are exposing the rest to the air and increasing your chance of freezer burn. HTH.

Natalie May 14, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

I had never thought to bake the whole pkg of chicken so it is already cooked and ready! DUH Natalie!! Good idea. And Nanettes about freezing the grilled version sounds great too! I do however think about the cookie dough, but never quiet get to the freezing part because we are usually eating as fast as they bake. You should post about your baking trick with the switching pans on the racks! This was a Great post! THanks!

Nanette May 15, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

I think maybe I am just using the wrong freezer bags. I press all the air out but I still get the burn...could be time to switch to the name brand.

The Land of the Blue Flower May 16, 2010 at 8:25 AM  

My cookie recipes make about 5 or 6 dozen cookies. So, I use a cookie scoop and form 2 dozen cookies and bake. Then, I take the rest of the dough and form it into balls and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Usually about 4 dozen cookies fit on a sheet.

When the dough is frozen into individual balls, I toss them all into a Ziploc bag and keep them frozen until my next cookie craving. The dough is already in perfect portions. So it is easy to pull it out and bake at a moment's notice. Shhh sometimes I just eat the frozen dough.

Karma May 18, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

My mom always froze rolled cookie dough - it was one of our favoritest to come home from school and have warm cookies even though mom was at work :) I think the precooking meat is an awesome idea - I often have to rule out certain meals because I don't have enough time to thaw/cook meat. I am going to start cooking twice the meat each time and freeze half! Awesome!!!

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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