These recipe shortcuts can save time and money at the grocery store while still feeding the family a home cooked meal. Grocery store aisles are loaded with convenience foods geared toward fast and easy meal preparation but these are not always budget friendly or healthy options. With just a little preparation, these tips can save a lot of money and still make cooking easy on busy nights.
1. Cook double batches of soups and chili, then freeze the extra for a quick meal on a busy night. This shortcut is well suited to these types of foods because they freeze well and are easy to reheat. The flavor and texture doesn’t change. You save money by not stopping for fast food and you can feel good about what your family is eating.
2. Make double batches of casseroles, too. Since many casseroles just aren’t as tasty reheated, don’t bake the second casserole. Follow all steps in assembling the casserole, but stop just short of the baking directions. Instead, tightly wrap the assembled casserole in aluminum foil and freeze it.
3. Buy 2 lb. packages of ground beef or other ground meats instead of 1 lb packages. If you typically divide the package in half, instead divide the package into three equal portions. Two of these 2 lb. packages of ground meat can create six meals with the same amount of meat you would normally only get four meals. Your family won’t notice there is less meat in casseroles, pasta recipes or their favorite Mexican dishes. It saves money, calories and fat grams. Replace the missing meat with extra vegetables or whole grain pasta.
4. Now that you’ve saved money on those ground meats, save time by cooking the meat and then freezing it in recipe-ready proportions. You can easily add seasonings, onion or garlic while cooking the meat. The next time a recipe calls for ground beef, just take the frozen precooked meat out and thaw it or even add it frozen to the recipe.
5. This money saving recipe shortcut uses whole chicken breasts and tastes better than the packages in the grocery store. You know how expensive frozen bags of precooked diced chicken breasts can be and sometimes the quality is not always the best. It’s common to find fatty meat in the packages of precooked and diced chicken breasts. So cook and dice several chicken breasts and freeze for your favorite recipes.
6. Chop fresh vegetables such as onions and peppers, then freeze for cooking in recipes. It’s convenient to buy frozen onions and peppers but you’ll save money if you freeze them yourself. Dice the onions and slice the peppers, place on a cookie sheets with wax paper or foil between layers. After the vegetables are frozen, transfer to freezer bags.
7. Buy fresh strawberries and blueberries when in season and affordable. Flash freeze these individually on cookie sheets so they won’t stick together. When completely frozen, roll the berries into freezer bags to have on hand for baking, desserts and smoothies.
8. If your family loves pancakes, then this time and money saving shortcut is for you. The next time you make a favorite pancake recipe on the weekend, double or even triple the batter recipe. Spend the extra time cooking the extra pancakes and freeze for weekdays. Homemade pancakes freeze exceptionally well, reheat in seconds and taste better than what you’ll find in the grocer’s freezer.
To freeze pancakes, spread a layer of foil or wax paper on a cookie sheet or two. Transfer each batch of cooked pancakes to the cookie sheets, placing foil between layers. Freeze until solid and place in sealed freezer bags. Wrap two or three frozen pancakes in a paper towel and heat in the microwave for a minute or two.
9. Grate cheese at home instead of buying bags of grated cheeses. Bar cheese costs much less and it only takes a few minutes to grate cheese for recipes. It also tastes much better when it’s freshly grated. You can always grate extra and seal it tightly in bags for later use and still save money.
10. Don’t waste stale bread or the end slices from loaves. Freeze the bread and use it later for bread crumbs, croutons or your family’s favorite bread pudding. Prepare the bread before you freeze it, or wait until you have time later. The important thing is to get the bread frozen to prevent it from molding. You can always take the bread out later, season and toast it for croutons or to use as bread crumbs.
These are just a few of the easy recipe shortcuts to help busy families save time, money and still feed the family healthy home cooked meals. Look around at the costly convenience foods the next time you’re grocery shopping. You’ll probably come up with several new ideas to save time and money with easy recipe shortcuts.