This will be the first ever installment of what I’m going to call “Freezer Friday”. It’s going to be a day of the week where we talk about things we put in our freezers in order to save substantial amounts of money or took out of our freezers from our previous adventures and what we cooked.
This week, the sales are a little slow around here, so I think next week, I’m going to do what I call “Eating straight from the freezer” which means unless I stumble across a rock bottom price on markdowns, my meat budget should be zero. I might do this for a few weeks, because grilling season is rapidly approaching and there are going to be a ton of great meat sales I might want to partake in (last year for my birthday in April, I bought two whole, uncut ribeyes for a song and had the butcher slice them for me). Eating from the freezer is also something I do every year around the holidays, not because I want to fill it up, but because it makes my meat budget zero.
I have a 22 Cubic foot, upright freezer that I purchased at the Salvation Army in Conway, Arkansas about 12 years ago. It cost $125. It does not self defrost, so every few months, I unpack everything, check dates, defrost, wipe it down, and repack, putting what needs used first in the front. I’m sure it uses more energy than a new one, but it is labeled Energy Star, so I don’t worry too much.
I really like to eat well. I like to have a lot of variety, as a family, we enjoy lots of different things, and most of my cooking is done from scratch. The thing is, though, that I run a pretty tight budget, so I’m constantly watching for sales and markdowns because I don’t like to pay full price. So I grab items when I find a great sale, and pack them for freezing. Then, regardless of what’s on sale that week, we have plenty of variety in our meals.
Now, I’m going to talk about convenience foods. Do you ever buy these little packs of diced ham?
Great for casseroles, omelettes, and salads, right? But at $2.79 for 8 ounces, that translates to $5.58 per pound! You can get a whole ham for .99/lb if you just keep an eye on your sales and here’s a thing: The cheaper ones always go on sale around Easter and the holidays for a rock bottom price and you can catch the really expensive ones as markdowns around the first few weeks of February. If you have freezer space, pick up a couple and put them away. Then you have ham when you want it without having to pay full price.
A few weeks back, I picked up a cute little boneless sandwich ham for .99/lb. we ate sliced ham and veggies for a couple of meals, ham and eggs for breakfast, then I cubed the remainder in small bits, just like those pricey packs.
I spread it out on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. After about half an hour, I took it out, stirred the pieces around with my hands, and put it back in till they were frozen. Then, I bagged them up and now I have about three or four pounds of ham for recipes readily available and it only cost me effort and .99/lb. this is something that is still doable even if your freezer is small. That bag doesn’t take up much space in the door. It’s a gallon sized, by the way.
Whenever I run out of ham bits, I plan a day where I cook another and do the same thing over again. I should run out of these close to Easter, so already have that plan in place.
Just by doing this simple step yourself, you can save over $4.00 per pound on convenience ham.
What about you guys? What do you do to save money on convenience foods? I love hearing other people’s tips and tricks, because that’s how we learn!
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