Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Learning to Cook

I'm trying to save money and eat healthier by cooking more often.  In the past we would go to the grocery store and load up on everything that looked good to eat.  The result was that we would eat about half of what we bought and the rest would go bad and have to be thrown out or sit in the pantry for years.  That approach is not much cheaper than eating out.

I drive by at least three grocery stores on my way home from school every day, so I am trying a different approach.  I'm actually planning menus and only shopping for one or two meals at a time.  It's easy enough to stop and buy the ingredients after school and eat leftovers or sandwiches on the days I don't want to cook.

We've been trying out different recipes from the books and magazines I've collected but rarely used.  I made Turkey Minestrone from Taste of Home's Pasta Cookbook.  I thought it was pretty good and my daughter ate it without complaining.  I like making big pots of soup like this and freezing the leftovers.


We had a half pound of ground turkey and three-fourths pound of turkey sausage left over and I told my daughter we need to find something to do with them before they spoil.  I don't want to keep throwing food away.  She decided she wanted to make turkey burgers with the leftover ground turkey.  I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and found buns on sale for a dollar.  Cheese slices were 3 packages for a dollar.  Dinner only cost me $2.70 and I didn't even have to cook!

I found a recipe for chili to utilize the leftover turkey sausage.  All I had to do was cook the sausage then open three cans and a bottle of salsa.  It doesn't get much easier.  It won't win any chili cook-off's, but it's not bad.  My daughter said it was awesome.  I froze a bag of these leftovers as well.

Now I've got leftover hamburger buns I need to use.  I found a recipe for pulled pork sandwiches in my Rival Crock Pot cookbook.  I stopped again on my way home to buy the shoulder roast and the other ingredients that I didn't already have.  I can smell it cooking now and it's making me very hungry.      


Anita said...

Your title says you're learning to cook, but I think you already know how! Sounds like it's just a matter of doing it.
Cooking has always been a challenge for me - choosing, planning, trying to satisfy everybody's tastebuds, etc. I actually have some old Taste of Home magazine cookbooks - I think I'll dig them up! I need constant motivation.
Keep it up!

Rebecca S. said...

Welcome to my world, Jen!

sage said...

The soup looks good.

buffalodick said...

That was beautiful! You are getting it, and lookin' good while you do!

Jen said...

@Anita: I know how it's supposed to be done but I'm not very good at it.

@Rebecca S.: Is it a good place to visit? I may stay awhile.

@sage: It was good...and mine looked just like the picture...even though that is not my actual food...

@buffalodick: I'm improving. You would laugh for days if I told you some of the mistakes I made learning.

Vince said...

Don't buy on special offer that which you would not buy anyway, and that day. While the freezer works if you are feeding a family of six, with two all you will do is store stuff you have sickened yourself with.

And, dear Lord, how can you face Turkey, I may be ready next Christmas but only if I've forgotten.

Heather said...

Sounds like it is a great plan, so far. Wont you get tired of going to the store everyday? I don't think I could do it, the temptation would be too great to grab something not on the list.

Good luck and eat hearty!

Jen said...

@Vince: No more sick than I already am of the limited menu they serve at the school or the frozen dinners I can buy at the store. It's working pretty well so far.

@Heather: I don't go every day. It's more like three times a week. It's on my way and doesn't take more than five minutes. Special trips to buy tons of groceries and spending an hour annoys me more.

Anonymous said...

This is how I shop too. Mainly because I never know what I will feel like eating. That dish looks so good. I am going to have to try it!

Tallshag said...

Ah, the budding grocery store gourmet. Before long you will be eating well on the cheap.

The way I like to do it is, check the grocery store weekly specials flyer, buy the cheapest meat and vegetables off the front page (the loss-leaders) and plan my menu from there. With practice, you can have a full-course meal for a dollar or two a plate.

Jen said...

@Christiejolu: It's much better the second day.

@Tallshag: I do that sometimes. I saw a lady take competitor's sale circulars to Wal-Mart and they honored every price. That's something else to keep in mind.

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