Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Convenience Foods on the Cheap!

Without a doubt, foods in the box, bag and pouch are easier and FASTER but definitely not cheaper and in some ways less healthy, which definitely ISN'T cheaper!

Soo what's a thriftmonger to do to save TIME and money and EAT FAST?

Figure out how to make up the foods inexpensively in a way they are available quickly!

Weekly menu planning can save time when figuring out the grocery list. Once a good list is made, be sure and check out the pantry shelves to see just what's there for the eating.  What is there that "NEEDS" to be eaten meaning that if left another day, it could spoil or become less desirable?  Eat everything well within dates and at its peak. This is optimum usage and thrift.

But how?

When a menu is made, the guess work is taken out of the week. Menus not only plan the shopping but the preparation and eating as well. A well balanced diet is easier achieved by planning. When a plan is made, groceries and other household goods such as tissue paper can be anticipated and purchased saving time, energy and GASOLINE by avoiding unwanted trips out to pick up this or that.  Is a holiday coming or a celebration in the family this next week or after? Plan for it.  If it's going to be costly, such as a birthday party, buy a few extra items each week and "squirrel" them back for the event.  It can take the load off of the week where it occurs. I purchase holiday items this way too. I've begun shopping a month or so ago for Christmas...yes, it's only April, but the prices may never be better! (Remember to know prices, even of foods and purchase foods (EVERYTHING!) when they are in season to get the best quality and prices.)  Menus are good, but methods of preparation are needed too to get the food items on the table....

but HOW do I save time here?

Easy.  By planning and work, foods can be prepared days to weeks in advanced and stored in safe ways that prevent spoilage so that they are pull out items ready and CONVENIENT! Convenience is WHAT we all crave! Foods that are quick and well as cost effective.

Chop foods a head of time.  If you are having beef stew and know that you are only using a few fresh carrots, then WHAT else will you make with carrots to prevent ruin?  I like to make carrot salad (grated carrots, mayo, 1tsp sugar/honey and dried fruit and/or nuts.) I also like to fix them on a plate FRESH so my kiddos can much on them.  IF prepared, they make a great crunchy snack that is very enjoyable~healthy too, and this is a win-WIN!!

Salad fixings such as tomato, cucumber, broccoli and onion, peppers~REALLY whatever you like, can be chopped ahead of time and placed in glass jars, plastic ware (don't like this stuff, but I do use some of it!), and or other storage devices~for iceberg or Romain lettuce, unwashed, I wrap it in paper towels and store in a plastic bag-it's best if torn from the head and washed as it's used and not cut even a head of time, because it will turn brown~ewww!

ANY veggie you can chop a day or two in advance of a meal, while chopping something else is better!  When doing summer squash, I would always chop up some for the stew pot, and also for the fry pan. Nothing better than some fried squash.  No, I didn't precook this, as it doesn't retain its texture and flavors.  Onions for all uses can be prechopped as well as peppers, celery, cabbage...a word about potatoes:  LOVE 'EM, but if you want to prechop, put them into water and in the fridge, or otherwise they will turn brown.  It your recipe doesn't call for peeled potatoes, you can always scrub the skins a head of time though! Do as much as you can while in the kitchen preparing other meals AND clean as you go.

Oh that DREADED WORD~cleaning!

I find that if I wipe and swipe up and around as I go,,,rinse and load, wash and dry as I go, there's less mess after the event.  I like to polish out my sink as I go too~MULTI-TASKing is essential to convenience.  Never go into the kitchen to just do ONE thing.  Accomplish as much as you can when you are there, so you can go on with the day as quickly as possible.

Eating at home, Eating prepared foods and not grocery-store-fast food-WANNA BEs is how we can save MORE money EVEN by not using coupons~yes, it's TRUE~by with planning and preparation!

No doubt, home cooked foods and convenience store foods DO NOT taste the same! As good as something tastes, it's not taste that's as important is the nutritional value to our bodies!  If you are just becoming acquainted with home cooked meals, then give yourself some adjustment time.  It takes time to adjust, but the wholesome flavors of REAL foods will catch on in your taste, AND as you tell yourself it's healthier and frugal, it will become more satisfying!  I don't CARE how good a fast food burger is, we'd ALL be hard pressed to recreate it at home UNLESS we have a chemistry set with all the right ingredients. READ those labels! No wonder we get sick and are fat!

Planning and prep work will make the inconvenient foods that are healthier and less costly a GREAT DEAL both in terms of our purses and health!

HOW long can we refrain from heading out to a restaurant JUST BECAUSE? (challenge here!!)

OK...plan that menu, and set a side just a little extra time~it will yield HIGH in savings!

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