Friday, February 18, 2011

Fit and Frugal Has a Blog!!

The first official Fit and Frugal meeting was this past Thursday and we had a total blast!! What a great week to start our group because there are some AWESOME sales at Publix this week. We went over so much great stuff, I thought it might be good to have it all in one place for us to review. That way those who couldn’t make it can have access to the info as well. Here’s what we discussed this week:

  1. Review of the basic couponing info that we covered at the joint Thrifty Mamas/Fit and Frugal meeting.
  2. What “Healthy Eating” means and how to get started.
  3. How to Unleash the Power of Your Freezer to cook less and save more.

For our hands-on portion, we had a lesson on dicing onions using a chef knife. Once I started doing more home cooking, I noticed that I was dicing onions CONSTANTLY. By using a chef knife and a good technique, I can dice my onions much quicker than by using a smaller knife, like a paring knife. The same goes for chopping other veggies, like carrots or celery... or mushrooms as Hannah found out after dicing about 7 million of them :) A big chef knife can be kind of intimidating if you don't know how to use it, though. We all got a little friendlier with our chef knives and used a fairly simple technique to dice our onions. Here is a video that shows how the pros do it

In addition to proper technique, the biggest thing that saves me time in my cooking is not having to dice my onions at all. Dice several large onions all at once (after buying them on sale of course) and throw them into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Toss it into the freezer and, once frozen, squeeze the bag or bang it gently on the counter to break up the mass into little pieces. This will give you a bag of individually frozen bits of diced onion. That way, when a recipe calls for diced onions, you can just scoop them out of the bag with a measuring cup. You don’t even need to defrost them before using them.

Another thing I noticed was how LONG it took to cook rice when I switched from white rice to brown rice… and how IMPOSSIBLE it was to make brown rice that was actually edible. Then I found a recipe that makes perfect brown rice every single time. This might not seem like a big deal to you but I get very excited about this sort of thing. Plus, we eat a lot of brown rice so it’s nice that it’s actually edible now.

Once again, my biggest time savings comes from freezing the cooked rice. I make a big batch and freeze it in 1 cup portions. Once they’re frozen, put them all together in a big gallon-size freezer bag and break the chunks up (sometimes it helps to let them defrost a little bit first). This will leave you with a big bag of individual rice grains. That way, just like with the onions, if you need a cup of rice as a side dish or to throw in a soup, you can just scoop it right out of the bag with a measuring cup. Throw them in the microwave for 45 seconds or a minute and they’re ready to eat. We eat it as a side dish with dinner, I add it to soups, and I even sprinkle a ¼ cup on my salads sometimes for some extra whole grains. It adds great texture and soaks up the flavor of my salad dressing. Yum :)

Once we were all done chopping (and crying… except for Katie who actually has special onion chopping goggles!), we moved on to cooking some main dishes. I came up with a menu for the week based on what was on sale at Publix. Each recipe will have its own individual post.

I hope you enjoy this week’s menu and you pick up some good tips to help your waist get smaller and your wallet get fatter. Stay tuned for more meal plans and couponing tips.

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