Monday, April 27, 2009

Frugal and Healthy Kitchen Tips

In my search to bring a frugal approach to my kitchen, I've started a few practices that I find most helpful. Not only do these little tasks save money at the grocery store, they save me time and just so happen encourage healthier eating habits. Here's how:

We all like to grab those little bags of carrots on the produce shelves because they've convenient. Let's face it, you normally don't wash them, they're bite sized, they're prepackaged and ready to take out the door. What's not to like? As I stood looking at them one day, I realized how much more expensive those bags were compared to a 5 pounder of carrots straight from the field with minimal processing. Price per pound, a 5 lb bag of carrots works out to .60 per pound while the prepacked minis are $2.72 per pound. I just couldn't do it any more. So with that in mind, my carrots come home with me and are peeled and cut up into sticks the same day. I store them with cut up celery in a gallon zip lock where they keep for the week. Few minutes trouble, but great savings. Bonus is that it is so easy to reach in there for a few when you get the munchies but don't really want to invest your daily calories in something non nutritious.

Along those lines, I've also started washing and cutting up broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and the like when I get the produce home, so that they are ready to throw into just about anything in order to up my vegetable consumption every day. Bonus is that the veggies you buy at the store are actually being used by the end of the week, and you're not throwing away expensive produce. I have a covered party tray that I use that truthfully is a little large for the refrigerator but is convenient for me. Baggies or symmetrical food storage containers would work just as well too.

Wondering what bacon is doing here when I'm referring to healthy foods? Well, I've been known to purchase the precooked bacon on the deli aisle because it is ready to throw into a sandwich for the kids lunch or garnish a soup. The mess of cleaning up a frying pan and finding a container for the fat was a pain. Of course, super healthy eating would dictate not even bringing the bacon home. However, all things in moderation are OK, right? Once again, the precooked bacon runs anywhere from $18-26 per pound. You only pay $2.50 or so but are just getting 2 or 3 ounces of finished product. Bacon on sale usually doesn't cost more the $2.50 a pound. Tell me, that's the more frugal way. But how to make it easy on the cook?

Take a microwave safe plate and two paper towels. Stack the paper towels and then fold them in half and lay across the plate. Place your bacon strips quite close to each other on the towel. Cover with another single paper towel that has been folded in half. I microwave these 6 or so pieces of bacon for about 4 minutes. The fat is absorbed by the towels, the bacon comes out nice and flat, and they slide right into a zip lock bag for what you might need them that week. Not a bad idea.

So there you have it. Cut up veggies. Precooked bacon. A few ways that I find helpful to save money and time in the kitchen. What simple ideas do you find helpful to trim a few dollars off your grocery bill in the way of preparation secrets? Do you have ideas that not only help save money but also time? Leave me a note. I'd love to hear what you've found helpful.

1 comments - click here to leave your comments:

lechar said...

A quick tip that has helped me for over a decade now is to buy ground beef in bulk packages. When I get it home I brown a portion of it, drain it, rinse it and spoon it into freezer safe containers or Ziploc bags in one pound amounts. Once the meat has cooled I then put it in the freezer. The rest of the meat is made into hamburger patties, meatballs, etc. and then frozen raw (sometimes I have cooked the meatballs and then frozen). This is a great time saver, in that I can make any meal that requires cooked ground beef in a snap, and burgers and meatballs are quick and easy as well. Also, this system allows me to buy ground beef only when it is on sale. The most I've tackled at once was 70 pounds when meat went down to $.99/lb. That was a very long day and took a whole family effort!

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