Friday, February 13, 2015
Save Time and Money On Meals....
I have a big family... and I cook a lot, most of it from scratch... and I am a very busy woman with a lot of responsibilities.... and money is not super plentiful, so...... it helps when I streamline things. Over the years, I have tried different ideas to save time and money.... some of them worked well, others not so much. Some of them I did for a time, then discarded... others were keepers and I am still using them... this is one of the really good ones.....
This is the last little package of ham... we had ham and it was so tasty... and as we usually do, we cut some of it up and put it into the freezer for later use. Ham doesn't store in the freezer for a long time, but it works fine for short term use.... like a month or so.
From that ham, we also had broth and leftover gravy and some of both went into the freezer..... and we have really enjoyed bean soup with ham.... the flavor was wonderful. :) Also from ham, the bone and other leavings get cooked down to form bullion... sometimes we add veggies to it... like celery, carrots and more... to make the broth extra rich, and sometimes we just cook the bones down. The resulting broth is rich with vitamins and minerals... and it also gets frozen until we are ready to use it.
These are my two last items of meat in the freezer .... a small bowl of cooked hamburger and the little package of ham, so it is time to replenish.
You may be wondering what the big deal is about doing this. Well, meat is expensive for us and yet it gives such wonderful flavor and nutrition to our meals, so I like to use it. If allowed to, my guys could easily polish off a LOT of meat. It would break the budget... and they don't need that much meat, so years ago, I started limiting the amounts.... and saving some. At the time, money was so very tight and we had many meatless meals.. in fact, we rarely had meat, so I learned to treasure it and make it last. A little bit of meat can really flavor up a dish.
I also like the idea of cooking once.... and using the "fruit" of my efforts, several times. When we cook a turkey... we put quite a few packages of cooked turkey into the freezer..... also turkey bullion. We have plenty of turkey to eat at the first meal... all we want, actually.... and then some of my work for future meals is already done during that meal. I love that!
If I know I am going to make sloppy joes, I will put them in bigger bowls... but we haven't made sloppy joes for quite some time... it costs too much for the meat... and we are doing fine without it for now. If I am going to make soup in the crockpot, all I have to do it run water over one of the bowls to loosen the meat... and put it into the crockpot with the other soup ingredients... I don't have to brown the meat and deal with the dishes from doing it... it's already done. :) As it all cooks together all day, the flavors meld together into a tasty meal. Having the meat cooked ahead of time makes it quite quick to get a pot of soup going... or to throw a casserole together.
Sometimes I freeze some of a mixture like this... or with celery, cabbage or other veggies cooked in. It is all flavored by the meat... sometimes I season it at this point and sometimes I don't.
This was all for the chili... yes, we could have used more meat in the chili, but this was enough for the two crockpots... and we all enjoyed it. In our culture of excess, it isn't a bad thing to be limited on things... even meat. :) Also, eating too much meat can lead to health problems, so again... it isn't bad to limit things.
Sometimes, I have bought a lot of meat on sale and cooked it, putting most of it in the freezer and getting it well-stocked again, then cleaned everything up. That was nice, BUT it was also time consuming. I find it easier to do it more often now... and to do it while I am making a meal already... so I would already be dirtying some dishes and spending time in the kitchen. It is really easy to do both things at once... cook meat for the current meal and get it started, and also put some in the freezer.
There are many ways to save money and time.... and some of them just aren't worth the trouble... and others are. This one is so helpful and it is just a part of what we do.... it saves on how much meat we use, it saves on the time preparing it... and it also saves on cooking times...how much fuel is used to power our stoves to do the cooking. There are even small savings in only doing dishes once for cooking all of the meat rather than cooking the meat for each meal. These are little things, but those little things do add up...
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