Quick and Easy Shortcuts to Save Time in the Kitchen

Beef Tacos with Cheese Salad and GuacamoleCooking every day can be one of the biggest drains of our time. At the same time, cooking meals at home is one of the biggest money savers we can find. Let’s face it, some expenses are fixed: rent or mortgages, car payments, cell phone plans, insurance payments. Our food budget is one area that we have some control over, so if we can make our time in the kitchen more efficient, we are well on our way to saving money:

1) Prepping Ground Beef

Ground beef is the basis of a myriad of recipes, but browning it is one of the most time consuming parts of the prep. If you buy ground beef in bulk, consider browning it when you get home. You’ll only have to spend that time once, instead of for each meal, PLUS you get the benefit of not having to use that gas or electricity over and over again. If you tend to use recipes that ask for onions or peppers to be cooked with your beef, make sure to have those on hand so you can do that as well. In a pinch, you can use dried, minced onion instead of fresh. Freeze the cooked ground beef in freezer bags in meal sized portions, and you will have the base of many recipes ready to go. Think how quickly you could throw together tacos or even simple Hamburger Helper on a busy weeknight when the meat is ready to go!

2) Chopping Veggies

Many recipes call for diced onion and/ or peppers. All that dicing takes some time! The good news? These two veggies freeze super well. If you find a deal on buying these items in bulk, make a plan to chop them all at once shortly after purchase. Freeze them in freezer bags in portions you use commonly for recipes, and you have a head start next time a recipe calls for either of these items. In many instances, you can dump the frozen veggies directly into the dish you are preparing. They break up fairly easily when frozen, and will cook right along with your other ingredients straight from frozen in the oven or on the stove. They are also perfect for throwing into omelets, sauces, and the like.

3) Prepping Chicken

As with ground beef, cooking chicken all at once for use in your recipes is a great time saver. I like to take bulk chicken and boil it, then shred or chop it. I put it in freezer safe bags, freeze it and then just pop it out of the freezer for use in dishes such as barbecue chicken sandwiches, chicken fettuccine, chicken salads, casseroles, and so on. Meals come together in minutes when the meat is ready to go!

4) Ham

I love ham and bean soup, ham salad, scalloped potatoes and ham, etc. When the grocery stores offer holiday deals on ham, I like to buy a couple, bake them and chop them into portions I can use for these meals later.

Photo Credit: iClipart

Tasty Tuesday: Freezer Cooking

We’ve been freezer cooking for a couple of years now and I’m still amazed at how much more money we save on our budget by making up a bunch of meals in advance and then use menu planning based on our freezer inventory to plan each month’s meals.  Not only does it save us money because we’re not wasting food and we’re basing our freezer meals on what is on sale, but we also save a tremendous amount of stress around dinnertime because we have a plan in advance and we no longer waste time on “what do you want for dinner?” and “I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?”  Here are a few terrific freezer cooking recipes to help fill up your freezer with inexpensive homemade meals.

1) Slow Cooker Recipes

Stephanie at Mama And Baby Love lists some fabulous slow cooker recipes for the freezer including Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken, Stephanie’s Goulash, and Chicken Curry.

2) Breakfast Burritos

Money Saving Mom is one of my favorite blogs and Crystal always has terrific recipes that are both yummy and low cost like these Freezer Friendly Breakfast Burritos.

3) Teriyaki Chicken

We eat a lot of Teriyaki Chicken at our house and this is an excellent recipe for the freezer from Jaima at Ring Around The Rosies.  You’ll also find recipes for Savory Chicken, Lazy Day Stew, Sweet & Tangy Meatballs, and Sausage & Peppers on this page.

4) Homemade Freezer Pizza

Here’s another family favorite as shown by Crystal at Money Saving Mom – we like to buy our chicken in bulk then cook large batches in the crockpot that we dice and shred before freezing meal size packages.  We later thaw and use the chicken in pizzas, salads, quesadillas, soups, tacos and more.

5) Pizza Pockets

Amy at Amy’s Finer Things swears that these Pizza Pockets and her Pigs in a Blanket saved her summer!  With five young kids of my own I can easily see how having a freezer full of these would be a life saver and I’m definitely making a bunch very soon.

6) Mexican Casseroles

Joyful Momma’s Kitchen provides the list to her top five freezer meals including Layered Enchilada Casserole, Quesadilla Casserole, Wild Rice and Chicken, Goulash, and Potato Soup.

7) Crab Cakes

These Crab Cakes from Abbi at Once a Month Mom look absolutely scrumptious and are a great way to make expensive crab meat go a little further while its in season and be able to enjoy it off season too when the price is higher.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.

My 5/30 Publix Trip – $88.42 for $21.80 or 75% Off

I’m still taking advantage of the meat specials lingering from Memorial Day and they’re just in the nick of time too because I hadn’t purchased any meat since January until last week!  After paying 99¢/lb for the chicken leg quarters last week I saw that Food World had a 59¢/lb special over the weekend so I went ahead and bought 60 pounds, which have since been cut and divided into meal size packages for freezing.  After I’m done with this post I plan to cut the pork loin into thin half inch slices and cut the sirloin tip steak into chunks for tips and gravy.  I should be able to extend these two cuts of meat into 4 or maybe 5 five meals for my family of seven, so that will cost either $2.93 or $3.65 per meal – whoohoo!  Today I bought $88.42 worth of groceries for $21.80, or 75% off after coupons and $21 RR.  Here are the deals:

Cheez-It Single Serve Tray Snack Pack or Keebler, Famous Amos, or 100 Calorie Right Bites, 8.88 to 16.8 oz, BOGO $5.99
$1/3 Keebler products (3 oz or larger, any flavor mix or match) (I used this one)
Final Price:  $2.66 each box

General Mills Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate, Frosted, Banana Nut, Dulce de Leche, Cinnamon Burst, Strawberry Yogurt Burst, or MultiGrain Cheerios, 10 to 12.9 oz, BOGO $4.05
*some varieties eligible for Running Out Run In Mail In Rebate
-$.75/1 MultiGrain Cheerios®
-$1/2 General Mills Cereal Multigrain Cheerios Peanut Butter, and Dulce De Leche Cheerios Target Printable Coupon
$1/2 General Mills Cereals (I used this one)
$0.50/1 General Mills Original Cheerios Cereal
$0.50/1 General Mills Original Cheerios
$1/2 General Mills Cheerios Cereals
$0.75/1 General Mills Original Cheerios Cereal (if still available)
-$1/3 General Mills cereals 04/22/2012 SS Insert (exp 06/02/2012)
$0.75/1 General Mills Original Cheerios Cereal
Final Price:  $1.53 each box

Ocean Spray Juice Cocktail or Juice Beverage or Juice Drink Blend, 64 oz, (excluding 100% Cranberry Juices and All Grapefruit Juices), BOGO $3.85
-B1G1 Ocean Spray Juice 64 oz Printable (no longer available; check your binders – and watch expiration dates! I used one of these)
Final Price:  $1.28 each bottle

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spread or Spray, 7.5 oz 2 pk, or 8 to 15 oz, BOGO $3.69
$1.25/1 I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Product (I used this one – no longer available)
Final Price:  60¢

Chef Boyardee, 14.5 to 15 oz, 10/$10
$1/4 Chef Boyardee Canned Pastas (I used 2 of these – no longer available)
Final Price:  75¢ each

Whole Boneless Pork Loin, Rib, or Loin Half, $1.99/lb (mine was $6.89)

Sirloin Tip Roast, $3.99/lb (mine was $7.74)

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, 5.5 to 7.3 oz, BOGO $1.65 or 83¢ each

Publix Mozzarella String Cheese, 12 oz, 2/$7

New to couponing? Check out our Couponing 101 page and learn how to save a little or A LOT! Also visit our Strategic Shopping page to learn how a few small, painless changes in the way you shop can result in HUGE savings!  Find any coupon in our new coupon database, order coupons you need, and you can download the FREE coupon toolbar here.

Menu Plan Monday ~ April 30th

This week is going to be busier than usual since one kid has a dentist appointment, another has a doctor appointment and I’m leaving town on Friday for the Brandcation blogging conference.  It’s weeks like this that I am so grateful to have a menu plan and a freezer full of home cooked meals to choose from!  We save a bunch of money because we’re not trying to figure out what to have for supper on the way home from wherever, which made it too easy to stop and grab fast food.  We can even change our minds and mix or match the meals depending on how we feel or how the day is going because there is a list of options available.  If you haven’t tried menu planning yet I highly recommend that you look into it – it not only saves us money but also greatly reduces the stress level around dinner time.

MondayLemon Chicken

TuesdayHomemade Garlic Crust Pizza

WednesdayCrock Pot Honey Ham

Thursday – Crescent Wrapped Hot Dogs

Friday – HOHO (hubby’s on his own – I’ll be out of town)

Saturday – HOHO (hubby’s on his own – I’ll be out of town)

Sunday – Sandwiches

My meal plan is listed at OrgJunkie.com!

Menu Plan Monday ~ January 23rd

I’m still giddy over having such a good inventory of everything in the freezer and having planned the menu for the month in advance.  I’ve never been this organized and it feels great!  Of course it goes along with my new year’s resolutions and my participation in the Boost Your Budget Pantry Challenge all month long.  It’s actually going so well that I’m planning to continue the challenge into next month!  Here’s hoping I can stick to it 😉

Monday – Garlic & Herb Chicken

Tuesday – Turkey and Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday – Sesame Ginger Chicken

Thursday – Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza and Easy Garlic Bread (going to try the new Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust)

FridayDate night – dinner out

SaturdayTangy BBQ Chicken Wings

SundayChicken Nuggets

My meal plan is listed at OrgJunkie.com!

Zaycon Foods Bringing Beef & Bacon to Florida

I’m such a huge fan of Zaycon Foods and I’ve been super pleased with the 80 pounds of chicken and the 40 pounds of ground beef that I’ve had delivered so far, plus I have 40 more pounds of chicken coming this weekend. Well they’re coming back to Alabama, Georgia and Florida next month with fresh hickory smoked bacon at only $2.97 per pound for a bulk package of 30 pounds AND 93/7 lean ground beef at the same price of $2.97 per pound for a bulk package of 40 pounds!! They’re open for orders right now and they will sell out quickly so if you’re interested in this or future deliveries, make sure that you’re on the Zaycon Foods mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when orders open up, and when they’ll be coming back this way again!

Zaycon Foods is Bringing Chicken to FL & GA in January

We’ve already had 80 pounds of chicken and 40 pounds of ground beef delivered so far from Zaycon Foods, and I’ve just placed an order for 40 more pounds of chicken. They’re coming back to Florida and Georgia with fresh boneless skinless chicken for just $1.69 per pound!!  That’s 43% off my usual target price of  $2.99 a pound and I’ve been super pleased with the quality of everything we’ve purchased from them.  They’re open for orders right now and they will sell out quickly so if you’re interested in this or future deliveries, make sure that you’re on the Zaycon Foods mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when orders open up, and when they’ll be coming back this way again!

Zaycon is Bringing Bacon to Florida!

I’m such a huge fan of Zaycon Foods and I’ve been super pleased with the 80 pounds of chicken and the 40 pounds of ground beef that I’ve had delivered so far. Well they’re coming back to Florida next month with fresh hickory smoked bacon and it’s only $2.97 per pound for a bulk package of 30 pounds!! They’re open for orders right now and they will sell out quickly so if you’re interested in this or future deliveries, make sure that you’re on the Zaycon Foods mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when orders open up, and when they’ll be coming back this way again!

Here is a list of their Florida delivery locations:

Boca Raton
Cape Coral
Clearwater
Crestview
Coco Beach
Daytona Beach
Deltona
Fort Walton Beach
Gainesville
Hollywood
Jacksonville
Melbourne
Miami Springs
Naples
New Port Richey
Ocala
Orange Park
Orlando
Pensacola
Plantation
Port Charlotte
Port Saint Lucie
Sarasota
Tallahassee
Tampa
Vero Beach
Wellington
Winter Park

Zaycon Foods Bringing Beef to Florida!

I’m such a huge fan of Zaycon Foods and I’ve been super pleased with the 80 pounds of chicken that I’ve had delivered so far.  Well they’re coming back to Florida next month with 93/7 Super Lean ground beef and it’s only $2.89 per pound for a bulk package of 40 pounds!!  They’re opening up for orders at 5pm today and they will sell out quickly so if you’re interested, make sure that you’re on the Zaycon Foods mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when orders open up, and when they’ll be coming back this way with bacon!

Here is a list of their Florida delivery locations:

Boca Raton
Cape Coral
Clearwater
Cocoa
Crestview
Daytona Beach
Deltona
Fort Walton Beach
Gainesville
Hollywood
Homestead
Jacksonville
Melbourne
Miami
Naples
New Port Richey
Ocala
Orange Park
Orlando
Pensacola
Plantation
Port Charlotte
Port Saint Lucie
Sarasota
St. Petersburg
Tallahassee
Tampa
Vero Beach
Wellington
Winter Park

Zaycon Foods Coming to Florida in October!

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to do a review for Zaycon Foods and I absolutely fell in love with the company!  They have a unique business model where they buy meat and produce directly from the farm and deliver it in bulk to their customers at greatly reduced prices.  They delivered 40 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken to me in July that turned out to be 23 meals for my family of seven, for less than $3 per meal at their current low price of  $1.69 per pound!  Plus I also really dig that they’re a family run business and it was the owner’s brother who delivered the chicken to my home.

If you’re in Florida and think you might be interested in saving a bundle on chicken next month then fill out this quick survey that simply tells them where you’re located and whether you might also like to get deliveries of hamburger or bacon.  Zaycon Foods also makes deliveries in most areas of the U.S. so if you’d like to know when they’ll be coming to your area then pop over to their site and sign up to be notified via email.