Monday, October 12, 2009

Leftovers ... Mmm ...

I love to cook. Sadly, my grocery budget each week is extremely limited. This means that I have to be quite creative in the kitchen. Fortunately, I love the challenge! I start by watching the sales and coupons. Kroger is really good about sending me coupons on stuff I buy anyway, like produce, dairy, meat, and specific cereals and other items. Once in a while, they send out a set of spend X get X off coupons. It might be $8 off an $80 purchase. Great deal! Now, I might find several items cheaper at Wal-Mart, but I factor in things like customer service, always being able to find what I want, and my produce lasting more than 2 days. That makes it worth it every time! But in general I find that I don't spend any more at Kroger or Ingle's than I would at Wal-Mart. I make out a menu every week, and buy only what I need for those meals.

Another thing I do to save money is make liberal use of leftovers. I'm not talking about eating the same casserole 3 nights per week. Yuck. But I've gotten pretty good at guessing what we'll eat for one meal, and freezing the rest. I frequently divide full-size casseroles into two dishes, baking one and freezing one. Pancakes, waffles, and muffins always go in the freezer after one meal. I separate them with waxed paper, then stack them in freezer bags. When meats are on sale, I buy more of that item and store it in the freezer. With chicken, I cook a big batch in the slow cooker. That gives me shredded, cooked chicken for recipes, as well as broth! Leftover spaghetti, chili, and soups used to sit in my fridge until I threw them away. Now they go into small containers in my freezer. They're perfect for nights when I don't feel up to cooking, for our lunch during the week, or for those "skinny weeks" when the mortgage is due! :) Another benefit to having a stocked freezer is not only the fact that I'm no longer wasting food, but that I can't justify going out to eat as often when I have a perfectly good meal waiting in the freezer.

In my freezer right now ... crepes (for savory or sweet), pumpkin pecan pancakes, cooked chicken, chicken broth, pecans (my in-laws have pecan trees!) sausage/egg/cheese burritos, bacon/egg/cheese burritos, pear freezer jam, barbecued pork, lasagna rolls, pesto, spaghetti sauce (meatless), cooked pork roast, strawberries, pumpkin puree, pineapple, etc. The only "store bought"/processed thing in there is a bag of Tyson chicken nuggets I bought for right at half-price with sale and coupon.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Mmmm....I would come raid your refrigerator any day! I love your cooking :-)