Dinner Comment Winners!
Greetings Swag Nation, it’s the Swag Gal!
Holy cow! You Swagsters really came through with awesome advice from this post. Over 500 responses is an amazing amount, and I read every single comment! Your advice was very inspirational- even my sister was impressed. She says thank you for all of your kind words.
We had so many wonderful comments, and it was incredibly difficult to come up with one winner so I ended up having to choose two-
Winner 1: KPKoze
Meal planning is definitely key. Check what you have and plan around that, then add meals that stretch your dollar and you can make a list, match any coupons and sales, and to go to the store with. Stick to the list! Most grocery bills grow higher when we buy things we don’t need.
Other things we do:
1. When you make a meal, make a double size and freeze one. Thaw overnight in the fridge or on the counter before baking. Lasagnas and casseroles do very well with this.
2. Spend an hour or two Sunday preparing what you can. Make the meal and put it in the fridge or cut onions, press garlic, or pre-brown meat so you have less prep time during the week. This helps minimize the dishes you have to do during the week too.
3. Learn to crock pot! You can throw everything in before you leave and dinner is ready when you get home! One pot too, less dishes again! Swag for some great recipes (allrecipes has some great ones if you’re not seeing any you like swagging!!)
4. As far as saving money, make a list of your “best price” on things like meat and cheese. When you see them in your area for that price, stock up.
5. And definitely check out using coupons! Melziemom.blogspot, becentsable and others have great lists that match up coupons to weekly sales. See what you can get on sale and plan your meals around that. It’s amazing what you can do with pasta when you have 20 bags that were free!! Don’t be afraid to shop at more than one store in your area either. The extra stop can be worth it to save $20, $30 or more in a week!
6. Plan to roll your meals. Make a roast one night and use the leftover meat for wraps, stews or sandwiches. Potatoes too! Mashed potatoes are a great topper to a good shepard’s pie another night! Baked potatoes can be pan fried to make crispy potatoes another night as well. Veggies can be added to a meatloaf, stew or pot pie!
7. Shop in season. The best in freshness veggies will be the in season ones and they’re usually in such abundance that they’re the cheapest too. Don’t be afraid to blanch and freeze anything that’s a particularly good price.
8. Buy whole! A whole chicken will run you $0.70 per pound on sale. While chicken breasts are $1.99 per pound on a great sale. Dark meat is higher in fat but you can trim off a lot of fat by just cutting off the skins. Use the remains to boil up some great homemade chicken broth and save buying the store bought-sodium laden stuff. Use the smaller cuts like leg meat in chicken enchiladas, soups, stir fry recipes and more!
I know that’s more than one, but this turned into my hobby awhile back so I thought I’d share them all!
Excellent advice KPKoze! She also posts more tips on eating healthy at 11:18, so you should all check that out.
Winner 2: Sailrox
Definitely use the crockpot. A lot of people bemoan receiving a crockpot as a wedding gift and leave it to collect dust, but not us! We use it for everything.
Using one is a great way to ensure you use healthier cooking methods and also cut down on those nights where you’re so tired and worn out that you reach for take-out.
A typical week in our crockpot usage (similar to your sister, actually):
Sunday afternoon, we clean a whole chicken (including remove the skin, since it gets flabby) and throw it in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots, and other root veggies. Makes a great, hearty dinner.
Sunday night, we eat our delicious chicken and pick off any remaining meat from the bones (there’s usually lots). We fill up the crockpot with water, bones, and some onions and make stock overnight.
On Sunday night, we raid our now-full Tupperware full of chicken meat, and make chicken salad for lunch.
Monday morning, we pour our stock into containers and refrigerate them. Before we rush out the door, we toss some veggies in the pot with some stock and let it cook away all day while we’re at work. When we get home, we have hot soup waiting for us, usually supplemented with a sandwich- either grilled cheese or chicken (using some of our roast chicken from the night before).
After dinner, we throw some dried beans in the pot with some water to soak (they are way cheaper and less salty than canned beans).
Tuesday morning, we drain the water out of the pot, added spices and canned tomatoes, and set the crockpot to make us a nice hearty chili.
Tuesday night, it’s chili for dinner, sometimes supplemented with the chicken.
Wednesday, the crockpot gets a break. We use the chicken to make chicken salads for lunch, and stir-fry up the leftover chicken with vegetables for an easy dinner.
Thursday, we start the whole cycle again, but usually with a different meat. Inexpensive cuts of beef become nice and tender with a whole day in the pot, and beans hold up well as well.
A great site for crockpot ideas is called “A Year of Slow-Cooking”. Swag Search it!
I noticed a lot of comments on utilizing the crock pot, and a bunch of readers make double of whatever they are cooking and freeze it. Still others cook once a month and freeze a whole lot of dinners at once. I guess it is called OAMC or freezer cooking. I thought that was a great idea. I also liked the idea of putting vegetable scraps in the freezer and making a soup stock once a week.
So thanks again for all of your genius advice. I will be sure to let you all know how my weekly cooking fares next week.