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!
· 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?