Vegetables are good. Even if you’re the type who shudders at the thought of salad or hide a grimace when you’re served green beans at a dinner party, there’s got to be at least one or two vegetables you absolutely love!
Vegetables can seem pricey, even frozen ones. One of the most common complaints from people who are watching their budgets are that veggies cost a lot per pound. In my local grocery stores, a SALE price for a single bell pepper is $1! Often they’re $1.50, even for a green pepper, which are usually cheaper than red or yellow peppers! If you do catch a decent sale on some vegetables, you will want to use every last bit of them. If spinach is on sale, don’t buy it JUST because it’s $0.50 per head, but will sit in the back of your refrigerator until it goes bad because you don’t know how to cook it. Instead:
Buy vegetables you like. Maybe the produce you buy isn’t as varied as you’d like to it be, but if you are used to and are comfortable cooking onions, for example, you’re more likely to use them in recipes you will eat before they go bad.
Make soup. Soup is amazing in that you can basically make up a recipe and it will generally taste good, and since you cook it for a while, veggies that are not-so-great can get thrown in there. Celery starting to go soft and your kids hate it when it’s not crisp? Chop it up and throw it in a soup! The soft texture is right at home in a soup!
Use every last bit. After making dinner, you might have a pile of carrot tops and onion ends sitting on your counter. Don’t throw them out—they’re still useful! Do you have a garden outside? Compost them! Do you make soup a lot? Freeze your veggie ends and pieces until you have enough to boil for a broth, and make homemade broth! There are plenty of things to do with vegetables that don’t necessarily involve eating them. How else do you use up everything you buy?
So you bought ten pounds of pork for only $1.50 a pound, or scored a few whole chickens from your backyard homestead neighbor. Dinner for weeks!… you think, but… now what? How to cook all that cheap meat you just got, assuming you are a meat eater?
Slow cooking has been a time saver for families for ages. Tough meat that would otherwise be hard to eat can simmer for hours in a pot, growing soft and tender. The trouble was that someone had to be watching the pot all day, something that’s hard to do in our modern, busy lifestyles. When the slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, as the brand name is, was invented a few decades ago, it was instantly popular. Because it cooked food at a low, constant, heat, without needing to be warmed by a flame or oven, parents could flip it on in the morning, go to work, and return home to a warm, nearly effortless meal. Since most cheap cuts of meat and vegetables generally require somewhat long cooking times, a slow cooker can be a great help to a thrifty lifestyle, as you can cook a cheap, nutritious meal very easily. Below is a basic recipe that works for nearly any cheap cut of meat, but this is only a guide—feel free to add your own vegetables or spices, and adjust cooking times to your preference.
- Chop up veggies. Onions and carrots go with almost every meat. Celery is cheap and is often used with poultry. Toss those in the bottom of the crock pot.
- You don’t need to add liquid, since fat will melt off the meat when cooking, but if you wish to, pour in a cup or two of water or broth.
- Pat dry your meat. Shake on some spices. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are good basic flavors that go with almost everything.
- Turn on the slow cooker! If you need a meal within 4-5 hours, flip it on high. Otherwise, especially for tough cuts of beef or pork, cooking on low for an average of 8 hours will yield a more tender meal.
There you go! You have an extremely basic slow cooker meal! Again, this is a just a starting point—part of the fun is being able to experiment on your own! What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?
We just had an ice storm hit our area. This is very unusual for us. As a matter of fact, you who live where it’s really cold and it actually snows for four months out of the year, would laugh at the way our city is responding to this freezing rain/ice. It’s as though the roads are covered with snow…except they aren’t. It’s really not that bad. But, I digress 😉
What’s most exciting for us today is that post-ice, one of my favorite vegetable plants is unaffected. It has survived several freezes (without us covering it) and now continues to produce as though all that hit it overnight were a few sprinkles.
This plant is full of antioxidants, boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health and helps build bones. Oh, and one more thing, it tastes GREAT!
This superfood plant is broccoli. We planted it in the fall and, as I mentioned above, it’s still going strong in the middle of winter. We have had broccoli almost every night for dinner; I also steam it and throw it into the children’s smoothie popsicles (yes, we do popsicles in the middle of winter around here too!).
If you have a garden or are thinking about starting a garden, grow broccoli! It has saved us so much money, tasted great and helped us feel good about what our family is eating.
What do you grow in your garden?
To find your local farmers markets simply type in your zipcode HERE!
I love farmers markets! Fresh local food, great prices, and supports local business.
It’s almost time to start canning. I LOVE to can! I wouldn’t consider myself the canning type, so if you don’t either please don’t stop reading. Canning is so much fun and it’s a great way to save money, control what you and your family are eating and eat better foods. Even if you don’t plant a garden you can get tons of fresh produce from your local farmer’s market and still save money.
Are you convinced you should can now? Save money, save time later on and eat good food, what else do you need? Throughout my canning season, I’ll share a few canning recipes that I use, but for now you need to know what you need to get started.
Canning jars, lids and rims-You can get these almost anywhere. Even the grocery store has them. These are very easy to find used as well. You can’t reuse lids though, but those are cheap new. There are difference sizes and widths. I prefer the wide mouth ones.
Water bath canner or large pot with a lid, and a rack-These are pretty cheap at the store and easily found used as well. You don’t use this for all canning methods, but for a lot of my favorites you do.
Jar lifter-I’ve tried doing it without this and it just hurts. No really, it burns. I always spill hot water on me and I’m just done with tongs. Jar lifters from here on out!
Heavy duty cooking pot-We have a really great dutch oven that we love. Sometimes you need to cook some items and these dutch ovens are the best!
Pressure cooker-Some canning recipes call for pressure canning. These are probably the most expensive item you’ll buy, but these are common at garage sales at Goodwill.
These are the basics you need and from here the recipes just need a few more items. Get these things and you’ll be ready for canning!
My husband and I have started being lazy about cooking vegetables. Our kid love them, but I just felt like they took forever. So then we started buying those steam-able bags that they sell in the freezer section. However, I was noticing a couple of things, first they were expensive for what they were and we weren’t eating a whole bag. My goal is to have something convenient as well as money saving.
First I thought that I would try a regular Ziplock bag. It’s a bag, so it should work right? No. No it doesn’t work. My bag exploded and it actually melted a bit. So I highly suggest you not try that method. With this method I just threw the broccoli in with a splash of water and microwaved for 4 minutes.
Second I just put broccoli in a Pyrex, covered it with plastic wrap and microwaved for 4 minutes. Although this worked and my veggies were steamed, it really wasn’t the convenience of the bag. I still have to wash my bowl. Not too hard, but my next method was better!
Third, I used wax paper and broccoli. That was it! This was amazing! Tore off a piece big enough for the amount of broccoli I had, placed the broccoli on it and then wrapped it up neatly. Microwaved it for 4 minutes and done! Super soft, but still very green. It was PERFECT! A 5 pound bag of broccoli from Costco was $5.99 and the wax paper was $3.99. I estimated that I could do this method 17 times with one bag of broccoli compared to the once with a steam-able bag that cost around $3. The savings is ASTRONOMICAL Seriously try it!
I’ve been seeing this trend on Pinterest and decided to give it a try and it actually works! I grew green onions just by putting the bottoms into a glass of water.
Not only does this method work for green onions, it also works on other vegetables with roots like celery, romaine lettuce, cabbage, carrots and bok choy. Although, I haven’t tried those a close personal friend says bok choy definitely grows back. And what do you have to lose, you’re going to throw them away anyway. Next time try this.
1. Keep your root ends of your vegetables.
2. Place in a glass container and cover with at least an inch of water.
3. Change the water every day.
You’ll start seeing results pretty quickly. Just keep growing until you get the vegetables that you want.
I love this time of year! Time to get outside (or even just on your porch with a container garden) and grow your own food.
On Amazon right now (prices change quickly) you can get “The Everything Grow Your Own Vegetables” ebook for FREE Here.
Don’t have a Kindle? No problem! Just download this free little app and you can download ebooks from Amazon straight to your computer.