Friday, February 7, 2014

Frugal Friday: Batch Cooking & NEW Winter Menu Plan

Aaah batch cooking. This has been on my list of things to talk about for quite a while. This is one of the great secrets for saving money in the kitchen and I hope you've already discovered it yourself. If not, I hope you will try it after reading today's blog post! 

Batch cooking means cooking more than you need for a meal and using it for other meals. Cooking in batches, if you will. Batch cooking saves time by allowing you to cook ingredients for multiple meals at once. It also saves money by using less energy to cook. Batch cooking is a great way to cook healthy, frugal meals for your family and save time doing it. 

Here are some great examples of batch cooking that I do all the time:
  1. I cook six loaves of homemade bread at a time and freeze five loaves for later. 
  2. I make two servings of green smoothie in the morning for breakfast and freeze one for the second day.
  3. I can oodles and oodles of food in the fall (when I have loads that I have grown myself or foraged for) to use all winter long.
  4. I usually double the recipe for sauces or soups and freeze half for another meal (Note: soups and sauces are some of my favorite things to freeze because they reheat so nicely). 
  5. I double or triple the recipe for rolls or breadsticks and freeze them for another meal.
  6. I make several batches of muffins at a time so I have some on hand for quick breakfasts.
  7. I make extra waffles to freeze. To reheat them I pop them in microwave for about 15 seconds and then the toaster until barely crispy. They are delicious and just as good as making them the first day.
  8. I make extra cookies to freeze for quick lunches (usually they don't make it though because my family can sniff them out anywhere...)
  9. I make lots of banana bread when I can find cheap bananas and lots of zucchini bread when it's in season. We freeze it and eat it when it's not as readily available. 
  10. I cook extra chicken if I'm cooking it anyway and freeze it. 
Do you get the idea? I can't even list all the ways I do batch cooking here because there are so many examples. It saves a lot of money and time. And it makes cooking real food a lot more enjoyable. And allows you to keep a stock of easy mostly prepared meals on hand for those emergency occasions (which happen a lot around here) when you didn't have time to prep the meal.

And speaking of meals. It shouldn't be any secret that I love good food. And I love to make it for my family to enjoy. One of my goals for this blog is to include recipes that will help your family experience delicious, healthy food. I believe that one of the most important things for a healthy family is to have a consistent family dinner time every night, if possible (with delicious, healthy food). To help you with this, I'm in the process of creating several 2-week menu plans that can help make the planning part of making dinner easier for your family.

Today I'd like to share the second one with you (the first one can be found at this link), but before I do let me just mention a few things about why 2-week menu plans are awesome. And why MY 2-week menu plans are awesome (if I can do this without blushing).

I love 2-week menu plans. One reason is because it saves me money. Using a 2-week menu plan allows for me to shop less often. The less often I go to the store, the less I see things I "need" and the less I spend. The other reason is because it saves me time. With a 2-week menu plan I only have to plan and shop once every two weeks. I still sometimes go to the store another time to pick up perishables, but those are quick "in-and-out" type trips that don't take a lot of time. 

My 2-week menu plans are specifically designed around theme nights. I've included in my menu plans themes that work for my family (and these are the very themes we use most every single week). Of course you can mix and match the days if the themes don't work for your schedule. I've selected Wednesday as our leftover night because it's a night that's always fairly busy for us. We like to reserve the weekends for more comfort food-y meals because we have more time to prepare them and time to enjoy a larger meal. Of course Friday night is our pizza night (and has been for years) and everyone looks forward to it. We love having week night themes in our family because our kids can look forward to those every week. It puts a consistency in dinnertime and it's a lot more easy to plan that way too. 

So now that you know the ins and outs of why 2-week menu plans work so well, here's my newest 2-week menu plan. Today's menu plan is specifically geared toward meals that are delicious in the winter but many of the meals would work for any time of the year.

And to help you with even more menu planning ideas, here's a post where I share lots of great tips for menu planning that also includes a downloadable blank printable menu plan. Also at that link you will find meal ideas for breakfast and lunch.

Now it's your turn. Please remember that I love to read your supportive and thoughtful comments. They brighten my day and make blogging fun and rewarding. If you need a some ideas, here are some question prompts just for fun.

How has batch cooking helped you save money? What kinds of food to you cook in batches to save time?
How has menu planning changed your life?

Please share. Happy Frugal Friday! Have a great weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I love your frugal family attitude! Thanks for reminding me of all the great things that I can make in batches and freeze. Things have been really busy with my teenage children and their crazy schedules. Hopefully this will help us enjoy having dinner together more often! Keep up the great posts!
Julie B

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