Friday, July 1, 2016

Time Tidbits: 5 Tips for Saving Time and Money by Preparing a Week's Worth of Food in Advance

By Kelly Schwarze

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The amount of money that can be saved every month by smart cooking at home is staggering. Preparing your family’s food a week in advance will put quite a bit of money back in your pocket, as it saves you from needing to order takeout or dine out. It takes a bit of planning, sure, but sitting down every weekend to create a meal plan for the week and cooking a majority of those meals on Sunday will allow you to eat without worry throughout the week. With these tips, learn how to ensure that no grocery item you buy goes to waste by becoming very familiar with one of our favorite appliances in the house: the freezer. 

    •    Make a Meal Plan with Leftovers in Mind
Plan for leftovers to become key ingredients in additional meals in the week. For example, the leftovers from Sunday night’s roasted chicken can become toppings for delicious salads to bring to work, filling in Monday night’s enchiladas and a base for creating a chicken stock that you can use in countless other dishes.

    •    Grocery Shop in Bulk Every Weekend
Who can resist shopping at a warehouse store with deals like pounds of steak for under $30? Snag those deals whenever you see them, so long as you are careful to freeze the items well before they go bad. After all, you haven’t saved money if you end up throwing out spoiled, unused food. For pricier items like meat, freeze at least half of the amount you bought the moment you take them out of their grocery bags. They’ll keep longer, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

    •    Double the Recipe, Freeze the Leftovers
Thanks to our first tip, you’re planning for many parts of one meal to be used in future meals throughout the week. Double the ingredients in a favorite recipe to be prepared for days to come. Cooking larger portions of each of those meals allows you the opportunity to freeze a portion of the leftovers for the future, while refrigerating the rest for tomorrow’s lunch. Running out of room in your freezer? Consider upgrading to a newer, bigger model, or installing a second freezer reserved solely for leftovers.

    •    Make Healthy Eating Easy with Pre-Prepped Veggies
Staring down a refrigerator full of vegetables and fruit that need to be washed and diced might just make you turn to a pantry full of processed snacks or head out the front door for a bite. Add healthy touches to every meal by washing, chopping and otherwise preparing produce for the week during your day of cooking on Sunday. Store these ingredients in sealed storage containers and you’ll have the ingredients to create a grab-and-go salad, healthy snack options or quick solutions for dinner sides.

    •    Think Differently When It Comes to Foods You Can Freeze for Later
You may be used to using your freezer for storing pre-made foods from the grocery store’s frozen aisle, but in addition to meats and bulk-sized meals that will make for easy mid-week dinners, you can use your freezer to store snacks and ingredients. Have a favorite smoothie recipe? Put all the ingredients in plastic baggies and throw them in the freezer to make your morning routine even easier. Got plenty of chopped onion left from a recipe? Throw that in the freezer, too. If there’s one rule you should follow to save money, it’s save those scraps!

Do you have any tips for preparing a week’s worth of meals ahead of time?

Kelly Schwarze is a San Francisco-based technology writer interested in making the world of gadgets and gizmos easy to navigate. She writes about household topics for Home Depot. Kelly’s current tech obsessions are all things smart home-related. To research the many styles of freezers available for homeowners, you can visit the Home Depot website.

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