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pasta dish
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Cooking Tips From The Frugal Diva
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Cooking Tips From the Frugal Diva

As I sat writing a cooking article last night, my husband nicknamed me The Frugal Diva. While I’m certainly frugal, I’m not sure about the diva part. However, it’s a catchy title so I decided to try it.

If you can’t tell by now, I love to cook. Over the years I have amassed many money saving cooking ideas. I’ve always practiced these ideas and with a tough economy, I figured I would share my tips and tricks I use around the kitchen and the house.

Home cooking can be easy or difficult; it just depends on what you want to do and your skill level. Your meals can be anything from nuking in a microwave for 3 minutes to a five course extravaganza. My preference falls somewhere between though I feel at home, doing both.

As well as saving money, as my new title implies, I like making cooking quick and easy whenever possible. I am going to try to combine both quick and thrifty in this article.

First, the best place to start is prepare what you need before cooking. In fact, there are many things you can do the night before, like cutting vegetables, measuring dry ingredients or cooking ingredients and refrigerate overnight, like hamburger for a pasta dish.

When making stock, fix a large batch then freeze in freezer bags. I also freeze stock in ice cube trays; when I need chicken stock for vegetables, I just pop out a cube for the perfect amount.

We cook many tomato based meals and some call for tomato paste. I always throw half the paste away since I never use it all and those paste tubes are too expensive. I discovered that I could put the leftovers in ice cube trays, cover and freeze. Not only did I save money by not throwing away the extra, I had an easy way to add the paste to my dishes.

For sweeter sauces, use carrots instead of sugar; healthier and cheaper.

For the best baked or mashed potatoes, always use a high starch potato like Yukon Gold or any gold variety potatoes. These make your baked potatoes puffier and your mashed fluffy. Also try adding cream cheese to your mashed potatoes for a delicious alternative.

If your potatoes start getting soft and wrinkled or sprout, cut them into cubes and place in boiling water. Turn down heat and let simmer just until tender, do not overcook. Spray a cookie sheet with no stick spray, place potato chunks on sheet then freeze. Once frozen, place potatoes in freezer bags or vacuum seal and put back in freezer. Now you have potatoes for soups and casseroles any time you need them.

For a healthy version of creamy dressings, substitute Greek style yogurt for the mayonnaise.

Making vinaigrettes is easy and costs less than the store-bought varieties. They not only taste better but need fewer ingredients. Place all ingredients in a sealed container and shake; no need for a whisk.

We cook chicken often since we prefer it over beef. Place foil in the bottom of a baking pan and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Cut onions into thick slices, about 1-inch, lay in pan and place chicken on top of the onions. Cut up red or gold potatoes and choice of vegetable (I like whole green beans), placing around chicken. Pour Italian dressing over-the-top then cover with foil and bake. Remove foil during the last 20 minutes of baking; turn up heat and let chicken brown. Quick, easy and delicious meat and veggies in one pan.

These are just a few tips for saving time and money. Look for more tips in future articles from The Frugal Diva.


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