Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Money saving, Time saving cooking tips

I love a good tip from someone else.  Over the years I have learned many things from many people that have been very useful at one time or another.  So today I thought that I would share some of my tips with you.  I hope they will be of use to you.

Being a household of two I used to find that I would buy a whole pack of something and we could not get through it before it went out of date, or worse, it went icky.

This is how I approach things now.

Meat - I try and buy all of my meat for the month - remember I plan my months meals, you can read about it here - and then it all goes into the freezer.  Make sure that your meat is in the portions that you will need to actually use it in.  There is no point buying 10 chicken breasts all in a bag together then having to try and chisel just one off of the big frozen lump.  Bag them up, excluding as much air from the bag as you can or wrap them well in cling film (glad wrap) and then put them into a bag.  That way you can defrost what you need as you need it.

This saves money because I can benefit from cost savings of buying larger packs of things, and I don't have meat going off in the fridge.  Remember though if you have put something into the fridge and then don't use it you can still freeze it before the use by date.  Just make sure that when you defrost it that you cook and eat it straight away.

Baked goods - I freeze bread rolls for hubby's lunches and things like crumpets and hot cross buns.  They can then be taken out individually and used as and when.  We don't eat a whole pack of crumpets at once and this way they last really well - as an example.  I also freeze cooked cornbread muffins.  If we have bread left over after the weekend that goes into the freezer too.  If you slice it before freezing you can take a slice out for breakfast in the week and toast it from frozen.  Or you can make breadcrumbs and freeze those ready for breading something - again you can use them from frozen.

Veggies - this is the best thing of all.  Few of us think to actually freeze veggies ourselves.  I buy frozen peas and spinach and I used to buy frozen onions and an onion, celery and carrot mix for casseroles and so on.  Apart from the peas and spinach I rarely buy veggies to freeze, but if I buy a large pack of something or have things left that I am not going to use, this is what I do.

Chillies - freeze whole and then grate over things from frozen.
Ginger - freeze whole and again grate from frozen.
Garlic - chop finely and then freeze in small amounts.  If you buy one pack of frozen garlic cubes you can then wash and reuse the tray if you are careful.  Again use from frozen.
Herbs - if you have fresh herbs left over, chop them and freeze either in ice cubes as they are, or with a little bit of water.  Drop them into your cooking as if they were fresh.  Things like thyme, mint, coriander and parsley work well.  I don't think that I would freeze basil, but if you make it into pesto that freezes well.

Cherry tomatoes - yes, you can freeze these!  They will not be of any use in your salad, but you can just freeze them whole and then pop them into things like chilli or a bolognese sauce.  They will cook down well and it saves throwing them away.  I have a bag in the freezer that I just add any to as and when I have any left over.

Celery - we never use a whole head of celery at once.  So I buy a head, use what I want and then slice the rest and just freeze it.  Not for salads or eating raw, but great as a base for all sorts of things.  Chilli, bolognese, casseroles, soups all sorts of things.

Onions - just the same as celery.  Although I rarely have onions "left over" as they last much longer than celery does.  So a money saving alternative for soups, casseroles etc is to buy them chopped and frozen from the supermarket.  Cheaper than fresh onions for things that you don't need a fresh onion for.

Peppers - as with celery I often buy a multi pack and don't get to eat them.  So again, slice and freeze and use in the same way as celery.

Carrots - now I have to say that I have never actually chopped and frozen carrot, but you can do, and I plan to start doing this with any old carrots I have.  You can buy them chopped and frozen as casserole base with onions and celery.

Mushrooms - slice, freeze and well, you get the gist by now!

Apples - cook them down and freeze for crumbles or apple sauce.

Plums - cut in half, remove the stones and freeze for crumble or stewed plums.

Bananas - make banana bread!  It is delicious with some chocolate chips added.

Parmesan cheese rinds - yes, really!  Freeze and then add to anything that you are going to cook slowly for a long time.  They add a savoury note to the dish and the cook can then remove the rind and eat the sticky lovely cheese!

If you have space in your freezer you could "open freeze" things on a tray which keeps them all nice and separate and when they are hard you can then bag them up.  I don't do this because I simply don't have space in our freezer as it is quite small.  It is quite possible to do though and works well for things like fruit.

Just to prove that I really do follow my own advice here are three bags that I pulled from the freezer to show you.


Celery


Cherry tomatoes


Peppers (bell peppers)

Of course the time saving comes in the fact that things are already sliced or chopped and are to hand just ready to add to things.  For example chilli, I put everything in the crockpot, frozen veggies and everything else, and add the meat - make sure that is defrosted, that is really important, and then leave it to cook.  It takes minutes in the morning to assemble with no chopping!

You can also save time by making big batches of things and then freezing them.  Chilli, soup, tomato sauces.  These are just a few of the things that freeze really well.

This might all sound like a 1970's freezer cookery book, but these things really do work and they really do save time and money.  We very rarely throw any food away because of the freezer!

I hope that these tips will be of some use to you!  If you would like some more suggestions let me know - yes, I am afraid I probably have more! - and I will do another post on the same theme in a little while.

As I said yesterday, I am rather full on busy right now, so I apologise for the lack of reply to comments - and e-mails! - I will get there please bear with me.  Also I am behind with blog reading, so I might miss commenting here and there if I am really far behind.  Thank you for bearing with me!

Amy

47 comments:

  1. I really am on a mission to use what we have and not throw anything away. The main thing I freeze is sliced bananas for my daily treat of nicecream. So delicious. It sure does pay to plan ahead. I know when I would prepare meals on the weekend so that we had lunches during the school week, I felt so much better. Have a great day. Tammy

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  2. These are really good tips most of which I'm already using. We have a small freezer that is part of our fridge/freezer plus three other freezers! We grow our own fruit and veg so it's geat to be able to freeze these until I'm able to use them. I open freeze strawberries and raspberries and this works really well. These are great for trifles among other things. For veg, I find it useful to cook most of it before freezing. For example, I roast onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and even parsnips before freezing. They take up less room this way. But, of course, it depends what way you want to use the veg when you take it out of the freezer again. I freeze tomatoes whole, as well, to use in pasta sauce. Thanks for sharing your tips - I'd be interested in hearing more.

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  3. I am horrified when I see what food people throw away. A chicken can go for days with the two of us - roasted, cold in salads, curry, and of course I make a wonderful stock with the bones for a large pot of soup.

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  4. All great advice, Amy. I remember when I "discovered" the frozen chopped onions in the supermarket freezers. Genius! :o)

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  5. Great advice Amy, I am a great fan of the freezer, I had to be when I had the girls growing up and they were always hungry. It took a while to adjust potions when we became a couple again.

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  6. Thanks for your tip on freezing and grating chillis, I have an abundance of them that I need to pick and do something with.

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  7. Such useful tips Amy-especially the celery one xx

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  8. Great tips Amy. I have always been so careful about wasting food, it's a bugbear of mine that a bit of management can make a huge difference. Having said that, I live with 2 REALLY hungry teenagers. I think that might be the reason why! They eat and eat and eat, never seem to be full and are stick thin. Why oh why can't that be me?!!!!!!! Have a super day! x

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  9. I never thought of freezing mushrooms - seems obvious when you think about it. I'm going to give that one a go. Thanks for the handy tips.

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  10. I rarely have food waste with a very hungry son at home but he is soon to be moving out and we will be a household of two so great tips!

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  11. Great tips Amy. Just this morning I emptied my little second freezer to defrost it in readiness for all of the allotment fruit that there will be soon. Frozen whole tomatoes work really well for cooking I find, because when they defrost the skins come off really easily. I don't mess about with all of that removal of seeds etc. that the fancy tv chefs do, I just take off the biggest bits of skin and roughly chop the rest. CJ xx

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  12. Dear Amy
    Great tips there! We were given some rhubarb which was lovely, but too much to eat all at once, so I chopped it up and open froze it in 2kg amounts, then put it into bags to be used in jam or crumble. I used some of the frozen rhubarb in a crumble last weekend which was delicious, so it certainly worked well. I have a bag of carrot, onion, pepper and celery in the freezer, to be used as the base for a pasta sauce so I must find that and use it!
    Have a good rest of the week.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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  13. Great stuff Amy, some really good tips here. My best time-saving freezer tip is to chop using the food processor onion, carrot and celery and freeze them in portions. I don't know about you but almost everything I cook (soups, pasta sauces, casseroles) starts with a handful or two of these ingredients. I don't add garlic at this stage though as uncooked garlic goes funny in the freezer and it is for this reason I don't freeze pesto. I usually make my last batch of pesto in October and stored in small jars in the fridge with a thin layer of olive oil to seal it keeps for several weeks.

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  14. Great advise Amy, I never knew veggies could work so well from frozen, I guess its all in the prep. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. Some really good tips here. I chop a job lot of onion, celery and carrot in the food processor ( but not garlic as raw garlic tastes funny after freezing) and freeze in portions then whenever I need a handful to start a soup or sauce it's ready to go. I always open freeze raspberries and then it's easy to get out exactly the amount you need. This year my surplus asparagus has gone into the freezer in the form of asparagus, pea and mint soup. Lovely!

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  16. These are great time and money saving tips. It's particularly good to know that fresh ginger can be frozen. We use ginger a lot in the Filipino dishes that we cook. Sometimes we use the leftover ginger to make tea though most times we forget to do this and they just go to waste. Thanks for sharing, Amy! X

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  17. Glad to know that someone else does all these things - so useful when time is short and when you have gluts in the veg garden

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  18. Excellent tips, Amy. I have never frozen vegetables, and you have shown how sensible and easy it really is. We are also a household of two, and I do end up throwing veges away. But not any more :). xx

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  19. great ideas Amy. I hate to throw anything away. I need to get better at labelling things in the freezer though....

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  20. i have some celery in the fridge....that was just waiting for this post!!! :) thanks

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  21. A brilliant way to save money and make full use of everything! Thanks for great tips!

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  22. I think it suddenly clicked just how many things could be frozen when I took on my allotment. The last thing you want to do when you grow your own is waste any of it. Some great tips there, it's always nice to make a meal and have everything already prepared.

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  23. Planning ahead is the best way to save time and money I reckon :o)

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  24. Thanks for the great tips Amy! I love our freezer! We do the bulk meat thing and freeze too. Just last night, I looked in the freezer and noticed a big pack of hamburger -- hubby got it at the grocery store and then chucked it in the freezer. How many times do I have to tell him that it has to be portioned FIRST??? MaybeI need to beat him, so he'll remember LOLOL!!!

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  25. Wow, you can write a book about it :-)!
    Such useful tips! Love, Mirjam.

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  26. Lots of great tips! My freezer is so full that we are eating from the freezer so I can go get more food. I sometimes wish that I had a small extra freezer in the basement. (No! Not the basement!) Remembering to properly label everything is very helpful, too.

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  27. Great tips! I have a small chest freezer that I put a few extra things in. Any bigger and I think I may lose things down in the corners. As a child we lived out of the freezer - mom bought everything in bulk and cut and froze it all. Today we buy just for the meals I plan each week and tend not to waste any.

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  28. Great tips Amy! I'm 6 months pregnant and planing on a long maternity leave and going back part time so we are trying to come up with ways to save money, I already batch cook and freeze things but never thought to freeze left over veggies and have been guilty of throwing them away, so this has really got me thinking! X

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  29. We are still eating peppers that I grew, sliced and froze last summer, they are brilliant for anything cooked. Not difficult to grow either.
    I wouldn't waste freezer space with carrots, they keep well in the salad drawer of the freezer if you take them out of their bag and lat them on a tea towel.

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  30. Good tip about the onions, I didn't know you could freeze them, the others I do routinely. We're like you, just the two of us and it's impossible to buy meat in portions good for us, so I always divide it up.

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  31. I like to batch cook, then freeze meal sized portions - great for busy days, when you might otherwise be tempted to reach for a ready meal!

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  32. Such great tips Amy! I seem to go in spurts where I'm better some times than others about using my freezer. You've inspired me here to get better though!
    I also wanted to let you know I nominated you for a Liebster award as I love reading your blog. If you want to get more info and accept go to my blog: northwoodsscrapbook.blogspot.com xoxo

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  33. These are good tips. I freeze extras of things too. In the late summer I also get the large field tomatoes, cut into quarters and freeze for use in soups and casseroles and sauces. I also freeze limes and lemons in ice cube trays, they are perfect for popping into a drink to cool it down or to add flavour. I love to drink hot water flavoured with lime.

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  34. Good job, Amy. In some cases with meats such as bacon or sausage, I'll fix the whole package, then parcel out what I don't immediately need and freeze for another time. Works great and actually saves a lot of time and mess.

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  35. These are good tips for all Amy ... thank you.

    Take Care you sound very busy.

    All the best Jan

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  36. Hi Amy, I really enjoyed your post. I plan to look back at your prior post on meal planning for a month. I also am cooking for two.

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  37. Thanks for the great tips, Amy! I freeze a lot of things too, with it just being the two of us at home now.

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  38. I do many of the same things! Saves money, and also time when things are chopped and ready to go. Did you know you can freeze bananas whole, and then use them later to make banana bread? The skin turns black, and the banana's are soft when thawed, but it saves mashing them for bread. :)

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  39. Great tips, Amy! I especially like the celery :-)
    A tip of my own: If I have a couple of slices of bread left over, I toast them, cut into cubes, and put them in a tomato salad.
    Amalia
    xo

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  40. I never thought about freezing vegetables myself - great tip - and slicing them up before hand makes the final result so much easier. Thanks for the advice! Judy.

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  41. Thanks for the great tips. We are buying a lot of fresh veggies at the market this summer.

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  42. AMY These tips are quite useful. I don think of packaging for the two of us, but now I shall!

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  43. We don't usually have much left over to freeze, and any crunchy stuff and lettuce we feed to the rabbit ;) You've got your system down pat though! I do freeze whole bananas in the skins, then nuke them when I need them for muffins or banana bread, then cut off one end and the slimy banana just slips right out of the skin!
    Wendy

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  44. Some great tips there Amy, thank you.
    Marianne x

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  45. Amy-- thank you for passing on these wonderful cost saving suggestions. I think we could all use reminders of efficient ways to save money in the kitchen and stretch our food budgets!!

    Xoxo
    Vicki

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