Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thinking Outside the Can...

One of the ways that I cut costs on food is by determining the absolute best price for items we buy often, such as tomato sauce, and then I figure out how I can stockpile that item at the best price. A while back, I started buying the big cans of tomato sauce (that cost less than $3 and are organic) at Costco instead of the individual cans. I then take the tomato sauce from the big can, repackage it into freezer bags (2 cups per bag) and then freeze it so that I have individual portions (I get six 2 cup portions) that I can grab when I need it. I usually do not take the time out to thaw the sauce before I need it unless I actually think to do so, but I have found that once I stick it in a pot with the other ingredients, it thaws fairly quickly. If I am using it to make pizza sauce and have forgotten to thaw it, I will do so either in a small pot on the stove or in the microwave. You can also thaw it by placing the bag in cold water for a while.
I also buy most of our produce such as bell peppers and onions at Costco and when I chop up some for a meal, I chop up extra to put in the fridge or freezer for other meals. If I have extra time, I will chop up a big batch in the food processor for the freezer. When there are sales on these items, or if I find them on the discount rack, I will buy extra for the freezer.
For meat, I always buy a bunch of whatever has a really good price and then I repackage it if needed and stick it straight in the freezer (unless I am going to use it for dinner that night or the next night). I do not buy meat every week because I save my money up for the good sales instead. I always have enough meat available in the freezer so if there isn't anything good on sale, I will just use what I already have on hand. I also make sure that I use the older items from my freezer before the new stuff I put in. Throwing out food because I left it in the freezer too long is a very sad thing in my house and I try not to let it happen as much as absolutely possible (yes, I do slip up sometimes and things are forgotten about until it is too late). To save time, I try to cook up extra meat and put half in the meal and half in the freezer (or in a second meal, etc.). For instance, tonight I am trying out this Beef Cabbage Soup recipe (I am using navy beans instead of kidney because that's what I have and I didn't add the sugar. I am planning on tasting it at the end to see if this is necessary or not. May spice this up a bit with some cayenne pepper) and I cooked up the ground meat (I used a 1.25 lb. pkg of turkey instead of a lb. of beef) with the onion and bell pepper. Then I put half (3/4 lb. each) in the recipe and half in a bag for the freezer. This will be great for all sorts of things, from tacos to shepards pie, to soups.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Insane Goals for February


I am posting my insane goals (these are the goals I have in addition to my ongoing goals) today since it is Monday, although the monthly link up isn't starting until Wed (Feb. 1st). But, I like for things to start at the beginning of the week. Anyway, this month, I am really needing to get a few things done that I have been neglecting for a while. I don't think I can keep using the excuse that the holidays have really made it hard for me to get these done right now... LOL. Although, Valentine's Day is right around the corner...
1. I really want to focus on getting back into the habit of doing my zone cleaning chores. I have been putting these chores on the back burner for a few months now and just doing the basic cleaning each week. This leads to the discovery of cobwebs from time to time and when I lift the couch cushions, I sometimes want to run away quickly.
2. Another thing that I want to work on is getting my freezers under control (sadly, this is not the first time that this one has made it on my insane goals list). I have been trying to figure out the best way to organize my freezers for quite some time now, and a few months ago I attempted putting like items (i.e. beef, chicken, cheese, etc.) in bins so that they could be easily found. Well, the issue I am having with this is that the bins are taking up too much room. But, without them I end up with piles of food all over the place that I end up having to dig through to find what I am looking for. So, today I got an idea for what I think will be the perfect solution from a customer's comment on the Container Store website and I am really hoping it works. This customers uses those jumbo size ziploc bags to store her meats in. I usually have some of those zipper comforter bags around (I always save these type bags... awesome for storing all sorts of things in) but they are currently all in use (time for new bedding... LOL), but I did happen to have the ones from my last sheet purchase, so I grabbed these and put all of my shredded cheese in them.They are perfect! I have a bunch of these smaller zipper bags that curtains came in (I think, or maybe pillowcases?) so I am going to put diced celery in one, and diced peppers, and so forth in them. This will make it really easy to stack everything while at the same time being able to grab just what I need without having to dig through. I will need to start using freezer bags for a lot of things that I currently use containers for, but I am totally okay with this since the freezer bags take up less room anyway. I struggle with this because I can reuse containers but I am really not one to go around washing and reusing many freezer bags, but I do get them really cheap. Anyway, I will be going to Home Depot or maybe Lowes today to pick up some of those big ziploc bags to try out the meats in. I am going to start with just one box of bags to see how it goes before making a big investment. Very excited about this one though!!!
3. Read Claim by Lisa T. Bergren (I love this trilogy and I am kinda sad that this is the last book so I am trying to make it last by reading very very slowly...). This shouldn't take all month, but I actually read a bunch of books at once (I love books!) so the one fiction book I choose to read sometimes takes longer than planned.
4. Finish reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (less than 2 chapters left. This is a good book although I have differing opinions on some things. I have still learned a lot and will be walking away with at least a better understanding).
5. Work out at least 3 days per week. I was doing good and working out 6 days a few weeks ago but things started to pick up around here and now I am back to struggling with getting workouts done or at least a walk in. I figure if I can focus on at least getting the 3 days done I will be able to figure out when and how to squeeze my workouts in. And, I bought a dvd this weekend at Costco called Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone that I am going to try out, especially for those days that are too windy/chilly to go for a walk outside (NO EXCUSES!). Btw, if you buy this at Costco ($7.99) it comes with both a toning band and a one year subscription to Fitness Magazine, which you can request a refund for (I believe it said the refund amount would be $6.15), so if you don't want the magazine (I have enough magazines to read as it is), you can request the refund instead making this DVD set less than $2 out of pocket (AWESOME!!!).
6. Finish hallway drywall, paint it, and get the new door trimmed in properly.  I picked up paint at Lowes this weekend and I am so ready to get this started ;-)

That's what I have planned for this month. What are your goals? Be sure to check out Rebekah's Insane Goals as well. They are very inspiring ;-)