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Topic: OT: How do you save time and money?

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Subject: OT: How do you save time and money?
Date Posted: 9/16/2009 8:23 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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Since we all would rather spend our time reading and our money buying books, what little things do you do to have more of both for our favorite pursuit?

1. I love having a clean coffee carafe and a clean tea pitcher. A little bleach (don't waste money on the name brand) gets all the oils and staining that I used to spend time scrubbing.

2. I buy lots of chickens when they're on sale, freeze them, then roast in my slow cooker (about 1/2-hr per lb. on high). As soon as it's done, I skin it and pull all the meat off the carcass. I chop and freeze the cooked meat in 2 cup batches and it's ready any time I need cooked chicken (salads, casseroles, fried rice, etc.) A 4-lb. bird yields 6-7 cups.

3. With winter coming, I'm gearing up for beef stew season. The bestest beef stew recipe is in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (the red/white checkered one). I cheat and buy the frozen stew vegetables, but buy a 2-lb. chuck roast to make 2 batches of stew. The key ingredient is V-8 juice for a base. Throw it all in the slow cooker and let it cook while I read.

4. I'm learning which store brands work as well as name brands I used to buy and which to avoid. The cheapest paper towels on the shelf are thick and patterned just like Bounty paper towels, the store brand mayo tastes more like deli mayo than Best Foods/Hellmann's, the store brand canola oil works just fine. Pass on the store brand "Ritz" crackers and oatmeal (these really do taste different).

Colleen

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 5,470
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One of my favorites is buying the already roasted chicken at the grocery store.  We eat the chicken on the first night, the my husband gets leftovers for lunch the next day.  Then I boil the carcass in water with celery, onion & carrots.  Peel the meat off the bone and strain the water (now homemade chicken broth).  I chop the meat and put it in with the newly made broth and freeze into plastic containers.  Now for a quick meal I just put the whole block of chicken with broth in the pot , cut up more veggies and add noodles. That one $5 chicken fed 4 people two meals and two lunches. 

Buy ground meat (we buy round) that has been marked down for quick sale.  Either cook up up to add to spaghetti or chili or freeze it right away. 

We also shop at Aldi.  LOVE ALDI!!!!  The food is great and the prices are wonderful.  I got a cartful for under $50!!

Shop consignment stores for clothes.  Some still have tags on them.  I also shop Salvation Army & Goodwill in a town near ours (it's more affluent) and get lots of clothes for my boys.  They grow so fast, I'm NOT paying $25 for a kids shirt.  Buy Toughskins pants at Sears for boys.  If they tear or get a hole in the knee, they replace them FREE!!! 

We also hang our clothes on a line and just air fluff  to soften them when dry.  Outside line in summer & fall and basement line in winter & spring.  With two little boys we do about 35 loads of laundry a month.  Our first month of hanging clothes to dry we saw a $30 savings on our gas bill.

Betsy in Michigan

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 9:29 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I love to cook so I cook a lot of meals at home. I buy things like stew meat and hamburger in bulk. Then I make large batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, soup & stew and freeze. 

I use audiobooks to get more "reading" in while I'm doing housework, walking or yardwork.  I tend to prefer romances in print. But I love mysteries and classics on audio. 

I also take a book with me-usually an unpostable mmp in my purse. So if I'm waiting in line somewhere, waiting for a prescription, Dr or mechanic-I read.

I also use up the chicken/turkey carcass. Usually I cook my own. Then I use the left over roasted chicken to make pot pies or sandwhiches. Then I cook down the carcass and make chicken broth or soup (depending on how much meat is left).  If it's just broth then I freeze it in small containors and defrost in the microwave when I need chicken broth for something.  If it's soup then I freeze that in large containors. THen when we want soup I just have to cook up some noodles (I don't like those after they've been frozen).



Last Edited on: 9/16/09 9:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/16/2009 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,496
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My grocery store has a reduced section for meat that's just about at that "use or freeze by" date.  I always check out what's there.  We have a small upright freezer so we can stock up on sale stuff.

When we make soup or chili, we usually make a double batch.  We freeze half of it for another meal.  What's left will feed the 3 of us for at least a couple of meals.

I've learned to love leftovers.  Dinner the night before becomes lunch the next day to take to work.

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 12:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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I have found it pretty darned hard to save both time AND money at the same time.  It seems like many times, it's a matter of choosing which to sacrifice.  I work FT and have two kids, ages 9 and 13, so guess what- I'm short on both!  Most of the time I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  There are days (not too often though)  that I will pay way too much money for a take-out dinner because I have literally NO time to cook.  Planning ahead is really the key here.  Unfortunately right now my balancing act has been thrown off because my kids just started school last week, and we are all still adjusting.  Anyway, here are some things that I try very hard to do to save myself a lot of stress:

Monthly shopping trip to Costco- meats are cheaper there, as well as some other things.  I certainly don't buy everything there- I have been doing this long enough that I know what is a good deal and what isn't.  But it does save money to buy some things in bulk, so those things I do buy there.

Paper plates- yes, it's a minimal expense, but saves time (fewer dishes), not to mention water and dish soap.

Meal planning- I try to sit down with the calendar on the weekend and plan dinners for the next week based on what we all have going on.  If there is some evening activity that is going to make time tight, I try to plan a slow-cooker dinner for that night.  I take meats out of the freezer on Sunday so that they have time to thaw for the rest of the week.

Multi-task and combine trips- for example, my son takes a martial arts class on Thursday afternoons.  I plan my weekly grocery shopping trip during that time, so I drop him off, go 2 blocks to the grocery store and shop while he's in class, then pick him up.  Saves time and gas.

Sadly, this last one is the hardest for me to live with, and that is lowering standards.  There is just no time to do some household tasks as often I would like them done.  Sometimes the best you can do is take a good hard look at your expectations and be honest about how realistic they are.  My bathrooms are sure not going to win any Mr. Clean awards- but at least I am not in the hospital suffering from exaustion, either.

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,496
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Oh yeah, I hear you on the cleaning thing Lesley.  It's nearly impossible to do it all and I don't have kids, just my mother and brother.  I'm usually too tired after working all day to do much cleaning.  So, my house won't win any clean awards either but I try and do something every day.  Even if it's just wiping up the spill spots on the kitchen and dining room floors or straightening up the shoes.

I took some vacation days this week.  It's sad that I told everyone I was looking forward to being able to wash my kitchen/dining room floors and clean out my closet to haul stuff to Goodwill on my time off.  There's just no other time to get it done.

Subject: Once a Month Cooking
Date Posted: 9/16/2009 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 808
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LESLEY - You might be interested in a book called Once A Month Cooking by Mary-Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson. I didn't link to it because there are several editions listed in the PBS system (though none currenty posted :-( ). They provide recipes (it helps to use their recipes the first time but can easily adapt the game plan to your own) and steps to prep/freeze dinners for the whole month.

The most I've ever done is 2 weeks worth, but it works. It usually takes me 2 days to do it all. Day 1, I shop, stew chickens, and soak beans. Day 2, I chop onions (lots of onions) and other veggies, then assemble the meals and freeze. When you think about it, many of our recipes contain the same ingredients (like chopped onions) and OAMC makes it easy to have "convenience" meals that taste much better, are a lot healthier (way less salt, fat, cholesterol) and cost a whole lot less than frozen dinners from the store.

Colleen

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Colleen, I am familiar with OAMC,but would never find that kind of time to do it, not even once a month!  I do quite a bit of prepping and cooking ahead though, usually on Sundays- I clean out the fridge and figure out what I can do with leftovers, plus usually try to cook one or two things for later in the week.  Sadly, none of the rest of my family likes casseroles or that type of thing, so if I make something like that, I usually just do it for me to bring to work for lunch.  My hubby is really funny about leftovers too- it's like they are invisible or something.  So usually what I'm doing is prepping on the weekend for something that I can cook quickly on the weeknights.  I know Rachael Ray holds the title, but I AM the 30 minute meal queen!  This week is really messed up for me though- the kids going back to school really threw me off, hubby has had a lot going on, and then on Sunday I found I was nearly out of dog food so had to make a big batch of that (long story short, I have an 11 year old hairless dog with severe food allergies, so can't use canned dog food), and once I did that, I ran out of time to cook for the rest of us.  So, it's been a rough week!

Anyway, I do love the concept of OAMC, and use some of the principles on a smaller scale, such as prepping stuff ahead of time for later.  It takes up time on my weekend, but at least I'm not tearing my hair out at 6:45pm most weeknights!

Date Posted: 9/16/2009 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,496
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I always buy a bunch of ground beef at once and cook it up loose.  Then, I divide it into containers and freeze.  That way it's ready to defrost for sloppy joes or to put in spaghetti sauce or hamburger helper or any other recipe that requires ground beef.  Much easier to do it that way then to defrost and then cook it and then use it in the recipe.