time-savers.

I’m alllllll about saving some time. All about it.
When PB came into my picture, my time became so much more valuable to me. I wanted to spend as much  time with him as I could. My priorities did a major re-alignment.
When I went back to work after my maternity leave (another day, another story), I came home the first day completely pooped. I wanted to do nothing but play with my boys. That was cool for about 2 hours until Ben and I got hungry. I suddenly realized it was getting close to PB’s bedtime and Ben and I hadn’t thought about supper until now.
Let me explain a few things first. We live in the country, and have very few restuarants nearby. Though we love our little town’s restuarants dearly, there’s only so many times a week you can eat them, ya know? Secondly, we don’t like to eat out much. Really, we don’t like to eat out at all unless its for a ‘date’. Quite frankly, we just live too far away, and eating out can get pretty expensive. So I cook most weeknights.
Before I had a baby, that was still pretty hectic. Coming home after work, cooking, cleaning up the mess, and getting ourselves ready for bed was about all we had time for. Now, add in a baby?
Yep, zero time, sir.
So I’m learning to adjust. I’ve been exploring new ways to save time, effort, and money on the cooking front. So far, I’ve been pretty pleased. I’m actually spending less time in the kitchen now than ever before (which means more time with my PB) and we are still eating most of our meals at home.
Here’s some of what I’m doing:
1. We cook alot with ground meat. Anytime I am going to cook it, I always try to make more than we need, and just freeze the rest. That works great if we want to make some quick tacos or chili one night. I just defrost the frozen (cooked) meat, and we’re cooking! Southern Plate has some great resources on this. Though I don’t cook my meat like she does, I still try to do the large quantities and the servings in individual freezer bags. (A note on freezer cooking: skip the cheap freezer bags. I’ve learned the hard way: cheap freezer bags=freezer burn). 
2. I often add green pepper and onion to my meat when I’m cooking for things like spaghetti, lasagna, meatloaf, etc., so I’ve started packaging and freezing my green peppers and onions in individual bags as well. This helps reduce cutting time. I love having handy bags of green peppers and onions ready to throw in my skillet.
Ready to be washed, diced, and frozen!
The final product. Easy to use baggies. Side note: do let the peppers and onions dry on a paper towel before storing in bags so there’s not ice on your veggies.

3. I’m learning to llllloooovvveee my crockpot! When I first got married, I had to clue how to use it. I burned nearly everything I tried to cook in that cursed black pot. I was terrified of using it.Though I’m nowhere near a crockpot goddess now, I’ve come along way, and am learning something new about it all the time. One of my bff.ff.fffs (Hi W!) gave me a crockpot cookbook when I had PB and it really gave me a boost of confidence to try to mend my relationship with my cp. I can happily report that we are friends now. Crockpot365 has some great cp recipes, too!

I recently put a couple of pounds of boneless chicken in the cp while I was at work. It works while I work. Awww, see? We are friends at heart! Anyway, I cooled it and shredded it, and it served us well. I used it for quesadillas, jerk chicken sandwiches, and a chicken casserole. All three dinners were minimal work, thanks to the cooked chicken from my dear, sweet crockpot.

4. Freezer meals. This one is still pretty new to me, and I’m just testing the waters a little, but I tried it a little this weekend. PB was napping, it was raining, and the house was clean (Oh my gosh, did that seriously happen?) so I took advantage of it and cooked a little to freeze for us (though I should have probably used that time to pluck my eyebrows, yikes! Side note, does anyone else always forget to pluck their eyebrows? By the time I get to them, they’re almost too far gone. I sneeze and cry and swear am never doing it again. Maybe I should try waxing?!?) Anyway, it worked well. I made a lasagna. I’ll be happy to have lasagna soon without coming home and cooking it! A Turtle’s Life For Me has a great reference to freezer cooking.

5. I’m making meals that go further. Ben loves him some leftovers. I’m always a little more skeptical when it comes to leftovers (remember me? the picky eater), so I’m trying to find things that taste equally good on the second day (and make a large quantity). One of my new and favorite recipes that fits this criteria is Triple Layer Enchilada Casserole. It’s versatile, feeds a crew, and tastes great on the second day. I omit the olives because they scare me.

Do ya’ll have any time/money saving recipes/tricks? Let a girl know!

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4 thoughts on “time-savers.

  1. I'm with Sarah-I do pretty much the same things, but I've never thought of freezing chopped veggies! This would save time AND money for me, since I regularly trash peppers in the veggie drawer that I've forgotten about. =/

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  2. I too, suffer my forgetful eyebrow-pluck-itis. 🙂 Shoot, I'll even see your forgetfulness and confess I never even plucked my eyebrows until I was in college. Love the tips here! The farthest I've gotten is making two lasagna or enchilada pans when I cook–but I definitely love my deep freeze to sock with garden-fresh veggies!

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  3. I dont work…Im just lazy..but if I am cooking i will typically make a version for 2 and split it..One day a month I cook a lot..lasagna, stuffed shells, spaghetti sauce, mexican lasagna, meatloaf, meatballs and freeze em all. We also always have frozen pizza on hand those nights when I dont wanna cook. It saved so much time.

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