Monday, March 3rd, 2008...10:05 pm

Saving on Food Part II: What you can do at home

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Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts of a guest post by ScrapperMom on Saving on Food.

We continue our discussion about saving money on food by looking at what you can do at home to save money with the food you have already purchased.

Morph one ingredient into multiple meals

To save even more time and money choose your main ingredient for the week out of the items that are on sale. This idea is the main focus of Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals show on the Food Network. In her show she makes up kits of food that she can use for the whole week. She also cooks more than she needs on one night to use for multiple dishes throughout the week. This saves both time and money which for me, as a work at home mom, is invaluable. This is where you can buy a big package of chicken, make all of it one night and use it in multiple dishes throughout the week. For example it can be chicken parmesan the first night, chopped and used for quesadillas and chicken salad on other nights. With ground beef it can be morphed into meat sauce, chili and tacos.

Brown bag lunches

Make your own lunch. If you are looking for creative ways to spice up your own brown bag the Fabulous Foods website has a list of creative solutions to spruce up your boring sandwich! Another favorite site of mine is Laptop Lunches which makes a creative, reusable solution for lunches, especially fun for children. They have a great and fabulous looking list of creative lunch ideas!

Make your own.

PIZZA: It’s always convenient to hit the local pizza place for dinner, but you can make your own pizza for pennies. They usually sell pizza/bread dough in the bakery section of the grocery store. Use any leftover veggies and meats in your fridge for toppings. This is also a fun thing to get the kids involved with. After the fun time they have making the pizza, they will have forgotten all about their favorite take-out option! I have even taken this one step further by making up mini pizza crusts (think Boboli) and pre-baking and then freezing them. So I don’t have to worry about rolling out dough when I am in a hurry. Calzones are really easy too, and are great to add to the freezer for later.

BREAD: I got a free bread maker a long time ago and dusted it off one day a few years back. I don’t make a lot of different kinds of bread, but I have found a nice honey wheat bread that works for me. I use it for sandwiches. Since we don’t typically eat a lot of sandwiches I cut it all up and freeze it. This way when we need bread we can just pull out 2 slices and make a sandwich with the frozen bread. You don’t even need to thaw. By lunch time, it will be thawed and you won’t need to refrigerate your sandwich in the meantime.

MUFFINS/TREATS: Making muffins and other snacks is a great way to avoid unhealthy and costly pre-packaged snacks. You can still go ahead and use a mix for convenience, but if you make a batch and freeze you can pull them out when you have a craving.

Feed the freezer.

I took this to heart when I was pregnant. In doing so we were able to eat healthy home-cooked meals with very little prep for the first 3 months of my daughter’s life. An easy way to do it would be to make double batches. When you make lasagna, make two; if you make chili, freeze half; and so on. If you are interested in ways to really stockpile your freezer you can try your hand at “Once a month cooking” or OAMC. Bankrate also has an article about OAMC.

So if you like baking and cooking you can find a lot of ways to save in the kitchen. Also if you have school age children you can get them involved in the process and at the same time teach them healthy eating habits. A little planning and time can save you big. And hey, you might even find you enjoy the extra time spent in the kitchen, because in the end it will save you time in the long run!

How do you keep costs down and save time in the kitchen?

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