Remember how I said there’d be “I have to stock up” sales? Let’s talk about that for a minute. Milk goes on sale where I am infrequently. However, we have an extra freezer that we bought through the want ads, so we can stock up on milk (among other things). It freezes beautifully and you never have to make those early morning runs to the convenience store. Space is at a premium in our kitchen so I’ve started stacking food elsewhere. Non-perishables can live under your bed, in your linen closet, on bookshelves, pretty much anywhere you can find a spare corner and won’t forget about them.
Now, I’m a confirmed omnivore. Life would be cheaper if I were a vegetarian, but I just can’t do it. I love bacon. And chicken. And steak… So, my budget has to stretch to include meat. Cheap meat takes forever to cook. You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you? Invest in a crock pot. They aren’t expensive and can save you oodles of time and money. The Fix It and Forget It cookbook is a perennial favorite with hundreds of recipes for the crock pot. You’re bound to find something you like. Soups, ribs, pot roast, desserts, it’s all in there.
One of my favorite strategies for cutting down dinner prep time is freezer cooking, or once a month cooking. I don’t always do it for the month becaue that can eat up a whole day, but I usually have a spare couple of hours on the weekend when I can whip up a recipe or two. Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer is my favorite of the freezer cooking cookbooks that I’ve come across. They do the scaling for you so you can make one serving or 12, they give directions on how best to freeze the items, and what to do with them when you thaw them (if you even have to).
Over the years I have lost a lot of meat to thawing it and then not using it before it’s gone bad. This is where that meal planning comes in. You have your plan for the week or whatever so you know that, for Wednesday’s dinner I’d better take the pork chops out on Monday so they’re totally thawed. If you’re doing a crock pot meal you generally don’t even have to thaw it, or not much, just add a couple of hours to the cooking time. I usually take my meat out two days before I’m going to cook it so I know that it’ll be totally thawed and I won’t have to deal with a frozen middle while the outside burns.