Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I'd like to start doing a weekly post to tell you about thrifty ideas that I have.  I've been called a "coupon queen" by a lot of people, but there are thrifty (but not crazy) things you can do other than using coupons (although I'll probably give some couponing tips, too).  You know I'm a busy lady and my top priority is Baby Girl, so I'm not going to tell you things that will take a ton of your time, either.

The first topic I'd like to cover is cooking things to go into the freezer.  I've tried to get into freezer cooking, but haven't done a lot of it.  But this past weekend, I did some a bit and I think it's going to help a lot in the future.  I went to the grocery store on Sunday morning and found big packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb. (they've actually been on sale for $1.79/lb at Kroger recently, but I didn't go there this week and in the interest of saving time, $1.99/lb is a great price--I always aim for around $2/lb for chicken when I'm stocking up).  I went home and found that some of the meat I'd purchased the previous week (we ended up eating out more than planned because of Baby Girl's weird sleeping) was a manager's special (meaning it was close to expiring) and needed to be cooked up before the night we were planning on using it.
We were grilling out that evening (the grilled hawaiian pizza--it was delicious!), so I had The Hubby also cook up some other meat.  I had: 1 package of garlic brats (purchased for just over $2), 2 tubes of ground sirloin (low fat cut of beef--purchased for just over $2/lb--I bought 10 tubes and put them straight in the freezer (we'd thawed two tubes for planned use last week)!), and the chicken.  One meal we're having this week calls for already-cooked chicken and another is for uncooked chicken.  I pulled out the amount we needed for the meal using uncooked chicken and had The Hubby grill the rest of the chicken and the brats up while the grill was heated for the pizzas.

We also cooked up all two pounds of the ground sirloin and made it into taco meat (we plan to have one meal of tacos this week). We put one pound into a Tupperware container, then put the other pound into a freezer bag and put it in the freezer for future use.  If more was thawed, I would have cooked more and frozen that as well.

We then put a couple of the grilled chicken breasts into a baggie to go into the refrigerator, then I sliced up the rest and put it into a freezer bag and put it into the freezer.

We used the brats last night for dinner.

This is really helpful in both saving money and time on the weeknights.  We did all this preparation in less than a hour and that also included cleaning up toys, cleaning the kitchen and preparing the pizzas for grilling and now we have over a pound of chicken in the freezer, a pound of taco meat, and also had meat for three meals this week cooked, so all we have to do is reheat it.  You can buy your meat when it's very cheap, cook it up, and freeze it if you don't think you'll get to use it right away just by cooking when you're already cooking other things. 

There's also a part two to freezer cooking--making entire meals (specifically casseroles) and freezing them for use later.  If you're already making a meal, why not make a double (or triple!) batch and freeze some for use later.  I haven't done a lot of this, but hope to in the future.  One of my friends suggests Shepherd's Pie as a great candidate for this sort of preparation.  We also made some freezer meals before Baby Girl came along and were able to reheat quickly once she was here.

So that's my first installation to Thrifty Thursday.  What other topics would you like me to cover?  Do you do any freezer cooking?  If so, what is your favorite recipe to make for freezing?


Cassie said...

Oooo, I love this feature! I'm sort of obsessed with saving money and I am VERY cheap, so I love reading about the ways other people save money.

I do a lot of freezer cooking -- specifically the second thing you mentioned, the casseroles. I've had great luck with soups, too. My favorite thing to freeze, hands-down, is Pioneer Woman's chicken spaghetti. It tastes even better from the freezer than it does freshly baked! I've also had good luck with lasagna, baked ziti, chicken noodle casserole, creamed chicken (to go over biscuits), enchiladas and burritos, mac and cheese, and meatloaf (uncooked, but with the ingredients already all mixed and shaped into a loaf). When Will was born, I'd made and frozen enough food so I didn't have to cook for an entire month!

Mandy said...

Great tips! Keep them up! We for real need to learn how to grill better without ruining things.

Sarah Dee said...

almost all our cooking is freezer cooking. i buy all our meat on manager special and stick it in the freezer as soon as we get home.

take it out the night before. i make double the amount of food we need and freeze it (or eat it in the week)

my other favorite thing to do is re-purpose the meat. that sounds really gross. but, taking the baked chicken we had monday, add it to rice and with a spice mix and i've made a very different meal without wasting any food.

Danica said...

Great post. And yes you are the coupon queen!