I have talked about this before as a great way to stretch your food budget. It really is a great money saving move if you can do this.
Cook up a big pot of beans, a hearty beef stew, even a large package of chicken breasts the freeze at least half of what you cooked. You may even be able to split it into thirds and freeze two thirds in two separate containers so that you now have made three meals for the price of one!
This also cuts down on waste so you aren’t throwing out so much.
So here are 10 helpful tips for freezing.
- Purchase large packages of chicken and meat, cook it all then freeze it in recipe sized portions. In other words, if you get five pounds of ground beef, cook it all then freeze it in one pound portions.
- Use foil casserole dishes covered with foil then wrapped in plastic wrap instead of using your good casserole dishes to store casserole meals.
- Use freezer storage bags for storing meats, soups, beans, stews, just about anything. Leave as little air in the bags as you possibly can. When you put the bags in the freezer initially, lay them on the shelf but don’t stack them until they are frozen.
- Label everything you put in the freezer with the contents of the container (even if you can clearly see what it is when you put it in there) as well as the date. A sharpie is great for this task!
- Cool foods as quickly as possible before you freeze them. If the food isn’t cooled properly it won’t freeze evenly. Put the pan with the food in it in a pan of ice water. This will cool the food quickly. If it is a stew or soup stir it occasionally to help it cool completely.
- Set aside a Saturday afternoon to cook several meals to freeze.
- Double or triple your recipes and then you have several meals to freeze!
- When you prepare your meats, choose different types. For instance, cook chicken breasts and store some as whole breasts and some as pulled chicken. When you purchase a roast, cut some for steaks or stew meat in addition to a small roast. This gives you a feeling of having more variety.
- When you are freezing liquids in containers, leave a little room at the top for expansion as the food freezes.
- Have some awesome, budget friendly recipes to prepare, cook and freeze, like the ones found here: http://www.aturtleslifeforme.com/2011/06/freezer-meals-on-cheap.html
You can save a bundle on your grocery bill with just a little planning. Shop your sales, cook the meals that not only will you save money, you will save valuable time as well.
Everyone knows that beans are pretty cheap to eat. If you pair them with rice or pearled barley you have a full meal. But most people think of beans as boring. They don’t have to be! Try this versatile recipe for beans and see how delicious and fun they can be!
If you shop carefully this recipe will cost you less than $10. This is also a recipe that freezes well, so you can eat half and freeze half for another day.
1 package beans (kidney beans, Great Northern or Navy are great)
1 package sausage (I like chicken sausage, but you can use what you like)
1 can diced tomatoes (I like Rotel – spicy!)
1 large container (32 oz) chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped (I use Vidalia or Texas Sweet)
spices (I use salt, coarse ground black pepper, sweet basil, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder)
You can also add a little Liquid Smoke and Worchestershire sauce if you want.
Rinse and sort the beans then let soak overnight.
Put the beans in a large pot or crock pot. Add the sausage, tomatoes, chicken broth onion and spices.
Cover and cook over medium high to medium heat until the beans are soft. The cooking time will vary depending on the type of bean used.
Serve over rice or pearled barley.
Did you know that there are some stores that will price match their competitors? While most are not grocery stores, two mega stores, Walmart and Target do price matching. Now, I am not particularly in favor of these mega stores, but sometimes you can get some very good deals there. Sometimes it is just necessary to follow the best deal.
All you have to do is go through your current sales papers and carry your best deals to the store. Here are the price matching policy for Walmart and Target.
Walmart: Price Matching Policy
Target: Price Matching Policy
There are some particulars, so read the policies carefully. Typically, the ad must list an actual dollar amount for the item as opposed to a percentage off. So read closely, then go out and save!
Do you know of any other grocery stores that price match?
For many people, one of the biggest obstacles to eating healthy is cost. Healthy food tends to be more expensive than junk food and other less healthy food choices. There are ways to eat healthy on a budget, though. You may have to put more planning into your meals and do a little studying to find great sales, but it can be done.
So for this first post we will address ways to get good deals on two departments of a grocery store that are a little more difficult to find deals for, the produce department and the meat department.
Most foods from the produce section don’t keep very long so you need to use the foods as you purchase them or within a few days of purchase. This can make it difficult to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables, but there are a few tricks you can try.
- Watch your sales. With the internet, it is easier now more than every to access the sales papers for many stores. Look through the sales papers and find the best sales.
- Join a co-op. Many communities have co-ops where several people pay into it and receive a portion of the fruits and vegetables at harvest or periodically.
- Visit a farmer’s market. Some farmer’s markets have lower prices than grocery stores. The bonus is that you will be supporting local farms. Some vendors at markets will cut their prices about an hour or so prior to the close of the market so if you go then you may get some deals – but you may not have such a great selection.
Meat is a little easier to deal with than produce because you can freeze it and store it for a while. So when you find a good deal on meat, get as much as you can and freeze it for later. Try these tips for finding good deals in the meat department.
- Look for sales. Keep your eyes open for great meat department sales. You might be able to pick up some good deals and stock up.
- Ask for smaller cuts of meat. Most meat departments will cut meat to your specifications. For instance, if you have a roast that is just too large (and too expensive) you can ask your meat cutter to cut it in half, making it more affordable.
- Check your meat department’s sale bin. Many grocery stores will put meat that is reaching its ‘sell by’ date in a special bin or mark it down. These meats are not bad, they just need to be sold. They will be just fine is you cook the meat that day or freeze it.
- Check with local farms. Some farms and ranches sell the meat they produce. Usually you get meat that is grain fed and does not have hormones added, Always ask, though.
We’ll explore these ideas further in later posts, but this should get you thinking.
What ways do YOU save in these departments?