This week I picked three ideas to share with you on how you can save money on food preparation. Besides shopping for deals and using coupons, there are many easy ways that you can stretch your food budget.
1.Use your freezer!
Out of all my appliances, I think my freezer has to be the one that I use the most to save money. If I see a great deal on meat, veggies, dairy, bread, or even flour into my freezer it goes. **Public Service Announcement: Did you know that freezing flour for 24hrs kills weevils and their eggs?? It really and truly does.
I cannot even imagine how much money I have saved by using my freezer over the years by simply freezing things, instead of tossing them out. Leftover spaghetti sauce gets frozen for homemade pizzas. Leftover soups, cooked meats, birthday cake/desserts all get frozen for quick meals or treats:)
I also use my freezer for quick meal prep. I freeze large batches of cooked hamburger meat, shredded chicken, raw hamburger patties, cooked rice, and breakfast muffins to save myself time in the kitchen. It is so nice to be able to make dinner in less time on busy nights!
Do yourself a favor and google all the different things that you can freeze…it is eyeopening on what can be so quickly and easily preserved for later use.
Last year, I read a great article on the disappearing art of improvising in the kitchen. The article focused on the modern-day person’s declining ability to make things from scratch or even to use clever recipe substitutions to make meals.
Long, long ago people did not go to the grocery store on an everyday basis (or even on a weekly basis) so they had to make do with what they had and improvise if they were missing an ingredient needed for a recipe. This was especially useful during WWI and WWII when everything was being rationed. Some of the best recipe books on substitutions came out during the world wars and you can still find them today online. I think its really cool to see all of the ways that women continued to feed their families with the dwindling supplies that were available to them during those hard times.
Now we do not live in an era of rationing, but if you are trying to stretch your food budget and try to go to the store only once a week to save money, improvising comes in handy. For example, last week I was making a recipe that called for a can of rotel (somehow it did not make it on my grocery list) so I had to improvise. I found that if I mixed a can of diced tomatoes and a couple of tablespoons of diced jalapenos together it made a great substitution for rotel.
There are so many interesting substitutions out there if you are willing to look for them. Here are a few easy substitutions that I have tried before that can be used in a pinch:
- Adding a little vinegar to milk can be used as buttermilk in recipes
- Make your own brown sugar by adding molasses to white sugar
- Adding spices and brown sugar to ketchup make a great barbecue sauce
- Simply adding baking powder and salt to regular flour makes self-rising flour
3.Make your own baby food
**This is admittedly not something I did as much as I should have. Baby food prices are crazy(especially those cute little pouches that my kids loved) and they can be made so very easily too. There are many great tutorials and recipes online as to how to make your own baby food that you should definitely check it out.
The easiest way to make baby food that I have tried is to make purees from veggies and fruits. The quickest way I make baby food is to steam the veggie/fruit in the microwave until they are soft, then I blend them in a mixer and slowly add in water until the desired consistency is reached. **It was eye opening to me on how cheaply baby food could be made when I used just one sweet potato to make over 4 cups of puree (you have to add a lot of water to sweet potatoes to thin them out because they are so thick!)**
To maximize your time and effort, freeze the purees in ice cube trays and then after they are frozen solid, pop them into a freezer bag until you need them. They also defrost really quickly in the microwave or you can also defrost them in the fridge overnight as well.
If your kids love pouches, you can easily make your own purees and then buy reusable pouches on Amazon to refill again and again. I have done this and it saves so much money!! ** The reusable pouches are not exactly cheap upfront, but when you take into account that each pouch you buy in the store is around $1, they really pay for themselves in the long run.
These are just some of the ways you can save money on food preparation, if you do some research, you will see that there are tons of more great ideas out there on these topics if you take the time to look!
What are some substitutions you have used in your kitchen? Do you make your own baby food? Do you love your freezer as much as I do??