08 April 2009

A Few Tools of the Trade...

While one can just as easily live the frugal life with the basic common items found in every house and kitchen, there are a few tools that can streamline the process and make this just a little easier and convient for Frugal Monsters.

The FoodSaver has really been a long term penny saver for us. When I used to find a good deal on chicken, I would only buy enough to get us through two or three months because well, have you ever had freezer burnt chicken? I don't recommend it. Now, if I find a great deal (like the whole chickens I found at Costco for .50/lb or the boneless/skinless breasts for $1.17/lb) I stock up. The whole chickens I can throw in the freezer. When I cook one for dinner, I usually cook a whole extra chicken. I pull the meat off of the bones and stick it in a FoodSaver bag. Seal it up and freeze it. Now I have cooked chicken meat ready to be thrown into chili's, soups, salads, etc...and it stays fresh for up to 2 - 3 years!! When I buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale, I trim them up and seal them into the sized portions that best suit our family. Sometimes I cube some up before sealing so a lot of the prep work is done for me already when I pull them out of the freezer. But we'll talk more about that when I get to freezer cooking.

Another BIG money saver for the Frugal Monster is a freezer. Chest freezers are more efficient than an upright. The one pictured above is the one we have. We started out with a 7 cu ft. freezer that we got for free and once we realized that a freezer is a tool that we just had to have, we sold an older fridge, sold the old freezer and used that money to purchase this one. Right now I have the freezer/fridge in my kitchen, another freezer/fridge in the garage and this chest freezer and all three freezers are packed FULL! And I didn't pay full price for anything in those freezers. When you find a once in a lifetime deal on meat (turkeys at Thanksgiving time, hams at Easter, etc...) you can buy several and use them throughout the year. We have Thanksgiving dinner about once a quarter. I then use the FoodSaver to keep the leftover meat fresh until I need it for casseroles, soups, stews, etc...

I had been asking my husband for YEARS for a fancy Cuisinart Food Processor. But when I finally sat down and determined why I need a food processor and what functions I most wanted it to have. We decided that an everyday joe would be the most economical option. So he bought me this one. And I love it. I'm glad we saved the $100 plus. There hasn't been a single thing that I've wanted my food processor to do that it hasn't delivered. I buy a lot of my food in bulk (cheese, veggies, meats, etc....). I also cook in bulk (more on that later). Having a food processor has literally cut my prep work by about 3/4. Making Jambalya? Need to cut up some onions, celery, green peppers and carrots? Not a problem. Put enough for about five batches and give it a whirl. Serve one for dinner and put the other four batches in your freezer for another day.

The stand mixer goes along the lines of the food processor. It saves time and time is money in this day and age. Are you making a batch of cookies? Why not make three batches and freeze the extras? You can easily do this with a stand mixer. And I will admit, I do have a commercial grade, 6 qt Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. It was a gift from my husband. However, we chose to buy a used/refurbished one directly from Kitchen Aid. It was about half the original price and now I'm not sure how I ever survived without it.
If you have some or all of these tools, well then you are a step ahead in the frugality game. If you don't, don't fret. You can find any one of these items at yard sales, on craigslist or keep your eyes peeled for great sales around Mother's Day and Christmas. And DON'T go out and buy all of these right now and say "The Frugal Monster told me to!!" I'm just giving you a list of things that you may want to look out for and purchase when you find that great deal!
Remember, take what you need and leave the rest!
~The Frugal Monster

1 comment:

  1. I agree with all of them. The only one I don't have yet is the food saver. Great post.