As part of my Eatin’ On The Cheap series I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I utilize in my own kitchen. Each of these ideas will help save you time, money and/or sanity – or if you’re lucky they will save you all three.
- Buy larger packs of ground meat and cook it all up at once. Then separate the cooked meat into 1-2 cup portions and toss them in the freezer for future meals.
- Making homemade pizza? Make your own sauce then portion the sauce into snack size bags and freeze them. The day you are planning on pizza take one out and let it sit in the fridge or in a bowl of warm water to thaw.
- You’ve heard of doubling a recipe to add to the freezer? Why not divide a meal and freeze half? Whenever I make something like macaroni and cheese or baked ziti I always divide it among two pans and automatically put one in the freezer. My family is never going to eat an entire pan of macaroni and cheese in a couple days so why not freeze half for another meal later in the month?
- Instead of buying cupcake liners to use when you make muffins use melted butter, or the paper off of a stick of butter to coat the wells of a muffin tin. Muffins will come out easily, and you won’t have to struggle peeling off paper wrappers.
- It isn’t necessary to purchase non-stick cooking spray; aside from the health benefits of NOT using them you will also be extending the lifespan of your pans, the sprays can leave a nasty residue on your pan that is difficult to remove.
- Before sitting down to create your weekly meal plan remember to go through your freezer to determine what pre-cooked meat, meals or veggies you may have stored away that can play a role in this week’s meals.
- Stop letting produce spoil in your veggie drawer! If you aren’t going to use it at least throw it in the freezer so you can use it down the road. If I see that the strawberries aren’t looking so swell I lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze them for a couple hours. Once they are frozen I toss them in a freezer bag until I am ready to use them in a smoothie, breakfast bars or jam.
- Hungry for meatloaf? Try cooking it in a muffin tin. Not only will it cook faster but it’s cute too! Bonus: you could also freeze these bad boys for future meals.
- While the pancakes are cooking on the stove I pull out a container and re-measure all of the dry ingredients into it so I am a step ahead the next time I want to fix pancakes. Just be sure you label the container.
- Set out the dry ingredients for a recipe the night before for your breakfast dish – minus anything which requires refrigeration of course.
- Keep a running list on the front of the fridge of leftovers that need to be eaten.
- As soon as you finish your coffee prepare the pot for the next morning – you will be so thankful you did!
- Cook an entire package of dry beans then add a small amount to each well of a muffin tin and freeze. Once frozen pop them out, toss them in a freezer safe container and freeze. Take out and reheat them as you need them. Note: you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to each muffin well to help them freeze as a unit and not as individual beans.
- Designate one cabinet for your little one’s cups and bowls, this way they can help themselves and promote independence.
- Make your own breadcrumbs. Instead of throwing out the ends of a loaf toss them in the freezer. Once you have accumulated a bunch of them toast them on a cookie sheet in a hot oven then obliterate them in a food processor – voila: breadcrumbs.
I hope these tips make their way into your kitchen and they help you save a little time. Share your own kitchen tips below or on my Facebook page.
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Have a wonderful day!