Often people who are of a frugal mindset get so easily bogged down in clipping coupons and watching for sales that they forget one of the most important ways to be frugal is to save their time. Our time is valuable so it makes perfect sense for us to save it whenever we can.
Here are 4 kitchen timesavers for the freezer you might not have thought about before. None of them will save a lot of time by themselves, but a few minutes here and there can certainly add up.
1. Chop Your Onions
Okay, so nobody likes to chop onions but so many recipes call for onion that you have to chop whether you like it or not. Why not chop once and be done with it for a few weeks? It’s possible and easier than you might think.
When you bring your onions home from the supermarket simply set aside 10-15 minutes and chop them all at once. When I do my big chop, I then add 1 cup of chopped onions into individual sandwich baggies and place those baggies into a larger freezer bag that is clearly labeled. Now anytime I need chopped onions for a recipe I just reach into the freezer and grab a baggie; they are already chopped and recipe-ready.
- I do the same thing with peppers (both sweet and hot) when I see that I won’t be able to use them before they spoil.
- This only works well for onions that are going to be cooked once they are thawed. Freezing changes the texture and they won’t be good raw.
2. Ground Beef Mix
So many recipes that call for browned ground beef also call for onions, I had a thought that couldn’t possibly have been original (I’ve since seen it mentioned on several blogs). I buy ground beef in the larger bulk family sizes because that will usually save me an extra $.20 per pound which can really add up.
When I get home I separate my ground beef into allotments for the various meals I like to prepare. My hamburger recipe will be mixed up and formed into patties which are then frozen. Then the rest of the ground beef is browned in a large skillet with chopped onion and drained.
Once it cools completely, I fill quart-sized freezer bags with my pre-browned ground beef mix. Now anytime I need a pound of browned ground beef for a recipe I have just saved myself at least 10-15 minutes which can often mean the difference in cooking at home or grabbing something because it is faster.
3. Make-Ahead Pancakes
When you make pancakes, why not take a few extra minutes and make a lot of pancakes. Those stacks aren’t wasted if they are frozen for lightning-fast breakfasts anytime.
You can freeze as many together as you like. For me the magic number is two because I can thaw two for a quick breakfast with syrup or to use as a breakfast sandwich with an egg and a couple of slices of bacon. Simply wrap them well and freeze. You can even thaw them in the toaster!
4. Freezer Soup
Don’t you hate it when you have just a little bit of leftover veggies after dinner? You know what I mean, not quite enough for a serving but you don’t really know what to do with it. Well I have the answer – Freezer Soup!
This isn’t a new idea but it is an effective one: You start with a freezer container. When you have a few spoonfuls of corn, carrots, peas or other veggies, you just drop the leftovers into the container and return it to the freezer. I’ll add leftover pasta and chopped or shredded meat as well.
Got beans? Add ‘em! Tomato juice, puree or sauce? You guessed it! When the container is close to being full, dump the lot into the crock pot with some homemade stock and let it do its magic on low heat for a few hours. Oftentimes the leftover bits have enough seasoning between them that I don’t even have to add anything to the mix and I am greeted with a pot full of yummy freezer soup that evening!