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Smarter Shopping: Time-Saving Menu Items

Posted by on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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When I'm food shopping, I'm always on the lookout of time-saving menu items for all of our family's weekday meals. Sometimes, though, those items cost a lot more than the ones that DO require more prep time, so I feel like I need to decide which are worthwhile, and saving me time without spending any more, or at least not too much more. Here are some of the time saving menu items I consider, and those that buy consistently without feeling like I overspend, and some that I sometimes splurge on, when I have an extra crazy or stressful week or month ahead:

Healthy food that cooks fast without costing too much more, or any more at all:

· Instant oatmeal packets, which I love to travel with also.

· Chicken cut up instead of whole, so I can have lots of leftovers and / or freeze some. Like "family packs" of thighs or legs or wings.

· Instant couscous, which is teeny tiny pasta that comes in many flavors and cooks in 5 minutes flat. Delish and goes with anything!

· Soups.

· Broth and stock (for making sauces, stews, and soups)

· Pre-made biscuit or cookie dough, and cake mixes for parties etc. (By the time you buy all the ingredients or even just a few, like butter or eggs and sugar and vanilla, you've paid more than the mix.)

· Frozen pizza dough and pie crusts

· Frozen waffles

· Canned pumpkin or squash (for soups and baking)

· Frozen veggies like spinach and shelled peas, which take only minutes to cook

Food items that I avoid buying unless I am really over-burdened and just can't do it all on my own:

· Any prepared raw produce, like baby carrots cut and peeled, or cut fruit or sliced mushrooms, or chopped garlic.

· Any pre-packaged meals (frozen or otherwise)

· Salad dressing

· Pre-made dips and spreads like guacamole

· Marinades in bottles.

· Spice mixes

· Premade yogurt cups mixed with fruit and granola

· Pre-made salad mixes and pre-washed salad

· Pre-made sauce like pasta sauces

· Pre-mixed beverages like chocolate milk

· Cheese sticks and pre-shredded cheese

Which time-saving foods do you buy often and which do you avoid, to save money, if any?


by on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Sarah on Aug. 30, 2013 at 9:28 AM
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Oh wow, you are a LOT better than I am! I haven't quite gotten to making my own salad dressings or marinades yet, and I usually just buy premade pasta sauce as well. I have recently started shredding my own cheese blocks, and it is both cheaper and tastier. With salad, I will buy premade in the winter, but in the summer I just use whatever is in my garden. Otherwise I completely agree that prepared veggies are just too expensive to be worth it.

Good tips!

by Lynsey on Aug. 30, 2013 at 9:34 AM
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by Lynsey on Aug. 30, 2013 at 9:35 AM
I am a simple meal cooker most often during the week. Coming home after 8hrs of work I don't want to spend another hour cooking dinner because then we are not eating until 6 maybe sometimes 7. On the weekends is when I like to cook bigger more complex meals but sometimes I don't even bother because we still have left overs.
by New Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM
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Try Look for me. joyfulmom76. Great new easy recipes. I have one food I need to use before it gets back, I just plug it in the search menu and whala....a lot of recipes and it will help you shop the sales and you can save a recipe for next week in your cookbook after you shop. Have fun cooking something new.

by 80sTardisGirl4Gore on Aug. 30, 2013 at 1:40 PM
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oh wow...some of the stuff you avoid..i buy LOL..not all but some

by 80sTardisGirl4Gore on Aug. 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM
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i like getting the family packs of meat (chicken mainly) and portion out

by Gold Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 3:32 PM


by Platinum Member on Aug. 30, 2013 at 3:44 PM
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 i buy big portions but it takes all of it for one meal for my family.

by June on Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Most of the "healthy" list above is not healthy at all.  

I will buy organic salad mixes, frozen veggies, and shredded cheese.  The rest I make myself.

by June on Aug. 30, 2013 at 7:22 PM
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I do buy the bulk packs of chicken or pork chops, too.

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