I live alone and have been trying to save money by cooking my meals at home. I know buying a whole chicken is cheaper but I'm afraid that the leftovers will go to waste, any ideas? The same goes for a roast.
Mimi Gonzalez from San Antonio, TX
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I review store ads to find the best prices during the week, shop on Fridays, cook on Saturday mornings and freeze meals in appropriate size containers which then can be a used for lunch or dinners.
You can usually find a small 2 pound roast in our stores here. We cook about a 3 pound roast in the crockpot and eat it for the first meal. Then leftovers can be sandwiches, or cut it up and put it in a burrito.
This cooked meat also freezes well. I too watch for the sales and buy several of them so I always have one on hand. As for chickens, if you are going to cook a whole chicken, the easiest I have found for us is to boil it, let it cool, peel all the meat off and use it for salads, or chicken tacos, quesadillas, or whatever else you can think of. It does take some time, so I usually don't do this. Just wait till chickens breasts in a bag go on sale and then you can cook 1 at a time on a grill or in a pan, and the rest will always be ready to cook. Or we cook the whole bag and freeze them. Heat up in 2 mins in the microwave from frozen. Great easy meal already done.
I also live alone now and make different dishes which can be divided into individual portions and frozen. Some of the things I like are chili, lentil soup, chicken caccatorie, baked macaroni (what most people call baked ziti). Some I make in the crockpot, some on the stove or in the oven. I've been known to cook up a couple of pounds of at a time and freeze it. Beef stew is also good. Basically, it is just a matter of what you like and if it can be frozen. This way you have a healthy and easy meal to pop in the microwave if needed.
I just bought a turkey last week when they were on sale and thawed it in the fridge for 4 days. I took 30 minutes yesterday and cut it all apart. I thin sliced the breast meat to use for a quick fry to place in caesar salads and cut off all the legs, thighs, wings and individually wrapped them. Now I can, for about $.50 per person per meal, serve only as much meat as we actually need instead of cooking the whole turkey and having leftovers and leftovers and leftovers... I took the turkey bones and baked them in the oven for a few hours and now I have been nibbling on the leftover meat. I could have used the bones to make a turkey soup but my DH doesn't jump up and down at the thought of soup...so I didn't make any.
I have a home worker that comes, three times a week for 2-3 hours each time. One day is cleaning, one is laundry, and the third is cooking. We make up at least three things that can be put into divided containers and frozen. I can thaw out a container, and heat it up for supper or whenever. Today we did a desert for my potluck tomorrow night at my building, a beef flavored rice dish with green peppers, Italian sausage, and canned stewed tomatoes, and salmon patties. Usually make four containers of each dish. That way I have a variety to eat each week.
I like having single (usually male) friends over for dinner w/ me and the BF. We get to hang out, no food is wasted, and the friend is grateful for a hot home cooked meal.
Cut up the chicken yourself, and freeze in parts.
Cook one meal you like, divide into freezer portions and freeze. I cook for a disable friend who lives alone. I place her meals in freezer dishes. If she doesn't get to them soon enough she puts them in the freezer. Any leftovers, freeze in small freezer safe things like different sizes plastic or glass jars.
mark date frozen and rotate your stock.
al of the above tips indicate you have a freezer. I had a small one in my refrigerator but when I was widowed and cooking for 1 I found it just too small. I too cook like I still had family or at least a husband. I finally invested in separate freezer and I think within 2 years it will have paid for itself. I used to buy loaves of bread and after using about 2 servings of each it started to get stale. I now freeze it in 2 slice portions. The same will rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns etc. I bake cakes and freeze in single wrapped portions.(I use Glad Wrap that I can get at the Dollar store for $2. I can buy meat on sale and frozen vegetables also. I recently found out lunch meat can be frozen. If you cannot afford a freezer I don't really have any suggestions. As for a whole chicken I have usually cut them up. Take the wings,cut off the tips,freeze, eventually you will have enough for a delicious fried chicken dinner or however you like them. You than have the thighs for another meal (and maybe cold for lunch, and then the breasts which I use for chicken Kiev. I buy sirloin tip steak on
sale, (usually more than I can eat) cut it into serving size for me and freeze for another meal or two.
I'm new here ... but thought I'd throw some info. in.
I'm separated at the time, all though husband does come by for a meal here and there, I just had major surgery ... so I'm not cooking now, but when I do, I bought the smallest, least expensive Seal-A-Meal and it's been great!
I freeze in small portions also ... and without air in package, it can keep for a LONG time.
I cook daily for one, but plan my meals to be available for as many as necessary for company times. I buy whole roasting chickens, family packs of ground beef and chops and roasts, whole tenderloins of pork and beef, all on special sale. (Not on the same day, of course). I cut the pork tenderloins into small roasts that serve 2, wrap all the portions that are not going to be prepared that day in Press 'n Seal, and bag in a Zip Lock Freezer bag, dated, making sure the air is squeezed out. The beef tenderloins I trim and cut into into individual "mignons" and treat the same way in another Zip Lock bag. The ground meat is separated into 3/4 lb packs for meatloaves and individual burger sized portions. These can be combined as needed for larger amounts for spaghetti sauces to larger meatloaves to feed greater numbers of people as needed. The beef roasts I cut into thirds, using one to roast, one to slow cook with barbecue sauce, and one to slow cook for pulling into packets for carribbean recipes. It sounds more labor-intensive than it actually is. I always have a variety of meat on hand, it is always fresh-tasting, and I am always prepared for company whose tastes may vary.
I cook the chicken and have a roast dinner first day, and then cold the next. I make some good homemade stuffing to go with it and use the chicken stock to make the gravy for hot and cold chicken. The next day I make a chicken and vegetable curry which is delicious and you can always freeze this if you have too much for one meal.I hope this helps!
When my 4 kids were still at home, I made 4-6 different casseroles at a time in large amounts. I froze individual portions in styrofoam bowls. When the boys got off the bus, they chose one bowl, put it in the microwave while they changed into work clothes, buttered a couple of slices of bread, poured a glass of milk and they had a full meal before they were off to work in the field for 3-4 hours. It still works, with just my husband and me only I don't cook such large amounts now. My husband loves baked potatoes, so I bake several for supper and save the leftovers for fried potatoes the next day, creamed potatoes after that, etc. They can be shredded for has browns or put into soups or mixed with cut up fried bacon - his favorite. I still find it difficult to cook for two, but with some creative packaging, we can have meals of the same meat in different ways for days - or even next month if it is frozen.
I found that roasting a small cut of meat uses the same energy in the oven as a larger roast. I live alone and like many others who live alone cook as I did before my husband passed away; then package into small servings to freeze. When company comes I merely thaw more than one portion. Works great for me.
One way that I found to economize while cooking for 1 is I buy a bag of boneless chicken breast, which are extremely easy to use 1 at a time. As for roast and other meats, when I buy them, I cut, then freeze them into indivudial portions and just cook as needed. I used to cook the meats all at once, then freeze, but I have found that cooking each portion as needed made for a more flavorfull meal. I usually have just enough leftovers for lunch.
I had trouble with milk going south on me. It is cheaper by the gallon, but not if 1/2 of it goes south on you. My sister and nephew drink a lot of bottled water, so I have them to save me their bottles. I now buy the gallon jugs of milk, pour it into the water bottles, being sure to leave 1" to 1 1/2" air space for when the milk freezes. As the milk gets emptied, get another one out of the freezer and place it in the refreigerator, so it will be thawed out by the time the other one is empty. You will always have milk on hand for cooking, cereal, coffee, etc.
To answer the question of what to do if you don't have a freezer to buy or cook in bulk and freeze portions of meat, soups, casseroles, etc. 1) Adjust your shopping to your needs. Shop for one or two weeks only. First sit down and read the stores circulars and locate the sales. Second, make a menu of what you'll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner during that time and stick to it. (Okay, leave a little "fudge" in the menu in case you want something else- make it something you already have.)
Third, concentrate your menu on things you already have in the pantry, using leftovers first. Lastly, make a list of those items you need to make the menu happen and then go shopping. You'll save money hand over fist. Next, to answer the question of milk going bad. If you don't have a large stand-alone freezer, use dry milk. Don't make faces- using dry milk allows you to make only what you need when you need it, and gallon per gallon, it's cheaper than milk in the jugs. Use your calculators at the store and see for yourself.
I love cooking chilies, soups, stews and casseroles. I eat one portion and freeze the rest. My menus the following weeks will include one of those servings. And, yes, there are weeks when I don't need anything at all from the store- so I don't go shopping unless there's a blockbuster style sale on. Usually I go when they're putting out the "reduced price" meat, and buy in bulk then.
It's time to celebrate being frugal again.
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