It’s that time again . . . time to share a few tips I’ve been learning these past several months as I find ways to save money and time on food preparation.
Other than making soup for dinner, I’ve taken to cooking a large amount of meat and then using it for a variety of dishes, so today I wanted to share some ideas with you.
For me, the toughest part of cooking is the time needed to do so. With two little ones racing around the house and, if not busy, pummeling one another, I have very little time to prepare dinner. I’ve been trying to cut back on that time by doing a few things.
- Cooking a large meal on Sunday and using a food that can be used then throughout the week for other dishes
- Cooking more meat than is needed for Dinner #1 so I can then use it for Dinners #2 and #3
- Cooking a variety of veggies in my steamer on Sunday and then using those throughout the week
Some ideas for you to use.
I’ve written about these little guys before. One roasting chicken feeds our family of four and then I take the meat off of the bird and make homeade chicken noodle soup. My husband was amazed the other night at how much chicken came off the fellow-I made about 7 bowls of soup and fed us a dinner with one $5 chicken. Get them on sale for $1.00 a pound. For the soup, buy a package of chicken broth (low sodium of course!), some carrots, some celery, some onion and if you like spice some jalapeno ( I add this at the end so my daughters don’t get it! ) Sautee the veggies, pour in the broth, add water to cover and add noodles and warm/heat for 15 minutes until noodles are cooked. Tip: Save the broth from the chicken that you first made and use this, because it is rich and thick and delicious! A cheap and easy meal on Sunday night and then soup for at least one, if not two, meals during the week.
My mom always loved pot roast and my husband does too. I’m not a fan of red meat but I do acquiesce when roasts go on sale. I spice it up with horseradish and sour cream, because you can never eat too spicy! Make the roast on Sunday (buy it on sale, of course, and you can get a good sized roast for $6 or so). Cook it with carrots, potatoes and onions (I add these the last half hour of cooking time). Eat the roast as is for dinner that night and then take the meat that is leftover and make beef stew, veggie and beef soup, or beef sandwiches for dinner.
It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to enjoy a turkey meal! When these big birds go on sale, buy it and roast it! The smell is wonderful and you’ll have enough leftovers for a variety of meals, including casseroles, turkey sandwiches and turkey pot pies. Steam fresh green beans (extras, so you have them for a few nights!) and mash some potatoes for a Thanksgiving meal in summer (or fall, or whenever the bird goes on sale!)
Do the same for ham. Ham is a great meat to make on the weekend because it doesn’t take long, it smells up the house beautifully and the leftovers can be used for ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, frittatas and omelettes and a variety of other meals.
Rather than make a veggie every night, purchase a large quantity of fresh veggies on the weekend and steam them all up on Sunday. Use some for dinner that night and then take out the rest over the course of the week. You can even freeze them and then pop them in the microwave when you are ready to use them. If you don’t use all of your veggies, don’t toss them! Instead stick them in a zipper bag, freeze, and use them for veggie soup or chicken soup or casseroles.
The key to saving time in the kitchen is planning ahead. Sit down for half an hour and make a menu at the start of the week so you know what you are cooking, what you need at the store, and how you can cross over. If you know you are doing a ham on Sunday then you know you can have hot ham sandwiches on Tuesday and bean and ham soup on Thursday. This takes an enormous amount of time away from preparation and planning during the week, when you really don’t have time to do it.
And like I always suggest, use the newspaper’s grocery flyer to plan your weekly menu. Buy the meat that is on sale and plan the menu around that. Don’t wait until you get to the store to figure this out, because oftentimes you’ll want turkey and it will be ridiculously high, when ham will be on sale for a fraction of its regular cost. Plan, prepare and think ahead and you can save time and money!