I read an article about the high cost of groceries and it got me to thinking if people could find ways to save on their grocery bill it would save them a bundle. My husband and I don't have the expense of eating out because I cook at home. Most of the time I do not shop the middle section of the grocery store because I cook from scratch. I buy produce in season and will purchase from the local farms when produce is available. I also buy meats in bulk.
My husband was raised on a ranch and was fortunate enough to have plenty of grain fed beef in the freezer. After we moved to the city he would complain about the low quality of meat sold in our area. I started buying meat in bulk from Sam's Club and he quit complaining.
I have saved money re-packaging the meat for two people; and on produce. I make it a practice to freeze food just before the expiration date to reduce food waste. I have learned different ways to save on my grocery bill every month. In the past I could not buy milk because it would sour before we had a chance to drink it. Now I can buy milk without it going to waste.
This instructable will show you how I save money by purchasing some of my perishables in bulk and how to freeze them. Let's get started.
Step 1: What You Will Need
Freezer bags or glass containers with lids
Ice cube trays I use the large ones
Step 2: Grocery Returns
When I put the groceries away I will save the receipts in an envelope and clip it to my refrigerator. If anything I bought is spoiled, I have the receipt and put them in the freezer if needed, labeling them return to "name of store". The next time I go to the store; I grab the item and the receipt; place them in the store's bag and return them. You might be surprised at how much money you can save by returning things that are inconvenient to do so. If more people would take the extra time to do this; I think stores would be more careful about the quality of food or items they sell.
I have decided that I will be writing the suppliers a written letter in the future and express my disappointment in their product. I don't know if any of you have noticed a higher volume of returns. In one week we had 4 items to return at 3 different stores, hmm I should have estimated driving time, waiting in line at the store, and gas. It might be a good thing to mention in the letter.
Step 3: Freeze Chicken Broth
I usually purchase whole chickens because I can make broth from the chicken backs and skins; and I have a dog so I cook the chicken bones to make bone meal. This method uses all the chicken parts; not to mention the last time I checked prices a whole chicken was about 50 cents a pound cheaper than the cut chicken.
I try to cook the chicken backs (for broth) very soon after purchase and will cook them at the same time that I make a chicken entrée. This saves me cooking time.
After the broth is made; I remove the chicken bones and cook the bones in water in a slow cooker until the bones are soft and mushy. The dogs love it and you can freeze bone meal.
I pour the broth into a (labeled) gallon freezer bag and let the air out of it and seal it. Then I lay it flat in the freezer and freeze it.
It takes about an hour to thaw.
Step 4: Freeze Green Chilis
We live in an area where they grow a lot of green chilies. I will purchase them in season and the stores here will roast them for you. It is best to freeze them with the skins on because it preserves the roasted flavor.
Lay the chilies on a cookie sheet with the skins on.
Make sure they do not touch one another.
Freeze them until lightly frozen and a crust forms around the edges.
Place them into a labeled freezer bag with the date.
Before using them, run a little water over the frozen chili and the skins will slide off.
Step 5: Freeze Fresh Herbs
I like to combine fresh herbs with dried herbs in my recipes. I buy dried herbs in small containers because dried herbs loose a lot of their flavor if stored too long. Fresh herbs can be frozen several different ways. They can be frozen in water, oil or butter. I like to freeze them in ice- cube trays that hold 1 Tablespoon of liquid.
Wash the herbs
Mince if desired.
Place the fresh herbs in the ice cube tray and top with distilled water.
Place the herbs in the ice cube tray and top with oil or melted butter.
Remove them from the trays.
Freeze in small labeled freezer bags.
They are usually good for about 6 months.
Step 6: Freezing Dairy Products
You can freeze milk, butter and eggs. I freeze them if I don't use them up before the expiration date. They all freeze well. I do not recommend freezing milk for a long time though. Milk can separate during the freezing the process and if it does; you can use it for cooking but for drinking it might not be so good. I have not had any trouble with milk separating but I have used it up fairly soon after freezing. Don't know if that is why it did not separate.
I buy butter in bulk and put the box into the freezer and use as needed.
I like to have a few eggs in the freezer in case I forget to buy eggs. I always have a reserve. If there is a sale, I will buy an extra carton to freeze; so I don't need to run to the neighbors and borrow an egg. The eggs can be used for baking except the whites don't whip into stiff peaks or at least they don't for me. I do not thaw the eggs in the microwave. I have made sunny side up eggs after the eggs were frozen.
How to freeze Milk:
Pour the milk into a freezer bag.
Remove air from the bag and seal.
Lay flat to freeze.
How to freeze Eggs:
Remove the egg from the shell.
Carefully pour the egg into the freezer bag whole or you could slightly beat the egg before pouring into the bag.
Remove the air from the bag and freeze flat. I liked this method instead of using the ice tray because they thaw out faster.
How to freeze butter:
Place the whole box into the freezer and remove one stick as needed or cut the butter into tablespoons
and freeze cubes on a cookie sheet allowing a space between the cubes.
Place the cubes into the freezer bag and seal. Use when needed.
Step 7: Freezing Meat
I buy bulk steak, hamburger and chicken and will re-wrap them before freezing them. It has saved me money over the years. I only buy enough meat to freeze for one month, because I have a small freezer. I have owned a deep freezer and did not like digging through all the meat to find a cut that I needed. If you own an upright freezer you would benefit from purchasing a larger amount of meat because your freezer could be organized to find the cuts as you need them.
Freezing chicken is the same method as the red meats unless you have a whole chicken to cut into pieces and then freeze.
Set up a work station with the meat, freezer bags, knife, and a marker.
For hamburger patties:
I use a canning jar lid and ring for the mold.
I fill the lid with the hamburger and flatten the hamburger.
I remove the hamburger Pattie and place it on a cookie sheet and freeze until slightly frozen.
I will place the patties into a large freezer bag, remove the air and lay flat in the freezer.
This allows me to remove one piece of beef as needed, without thawing the whole package.
If not freezing patties I will measure what I need for frequently used recipes and place it into the freezer bag and flatten. I will remove the air and seal the bag; Mark the weight of the bag and lay flat and freeze.
Step 8: Freezing Meyer's Lemon Juice
Meyer's lemons are a seasonal item in our area. This year I ordered them from an online farm that told me they sale Meyer's lemons almost all year round. I juiced them and froze the lemon zest. I decided to freeze them to save on shipping cost. I place orders as I run out of the frozen juice. It has been nice to be able to have them as I need them for cooking and baking.I bought mine here .
Label freezer bags for Meyer's lemon juice and one for the lemon zest.
Zest the peel
Place the zest in a freezer bag and lay flat to freeze
Slice the lemons into wedges
Place the wedges into a juicer and juice them
Pour the juice into large ice cube trays and freeze completely.
Remove the frozen cubes and place the cubes into a labeled freezer bag removing the air and seal the bag.
I am not sure how long they will keep in the freezer but I would estimate at least 6 months.
Step 9: Sunshiine's Final Steps
Now you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work and I am sure you will find a way to use the extra money for a vacation, kids college, a new car, or a larger savings account. You might find that you won't be eating out as often because you can thaw out smaller portions; if you are the only person that will be home that day. It has worked great for my husband and I. We don't eat out very often because I don't care for fast food and I would rather cook from scratch. It is a win for my family.
This is an entry for the budget contest and if you like this instructable, your vote would be appreciated, thanks.
I wish to thank instructables and contributors for making this a wonderful environment to exchange ideas and creations. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you can save a bundle this year by freezing food!