8 CONVENIENCE FOODS THAT SAVE TIME
Let's have some real talk for a sec... meal planning isn't exactly "fun". There I said it! (FUN is going to Target and buying things that you didn't even know you needed, right?!) But meal planning is without a doubt a solid strategy to streamline the food decisions in your life, giving you more time and energy to do the things you actually want to do. (Ahem, go to Target.)
Here at The Meal Planning Method, we're always trying to find ways to skim a few minutes here and there, because it really can add up during your week! This week, we're highlighting convenience foods that are not only easy to prepare, but can save you precious moments. Check 'em out!
(1) OVEN-READY LASAGNA NOODLES (aka no-boil noodles)
After I tried oven-ready lasagna noodles, I knew right then and there I would never buy regular lasagna noodles again! How many minutes will you save? 8 minutes! (That's enough time to make a to-do list.)
(2) QUICK COOK OATS
Did you know that ALL oats (quick, old-fashioned, and steel cut) are healthy choices? Quick cook oats are great though when you need whole grains fast. How many minutes will you save? If you're comparing quick cook oats to steel cut oats, you're saving 29 minutes! (That's one episode of your favorite sitcom.)
(3) 10-MINUTE RICE
We always stock rice in the pantry, but ain' no body got time to boil brown rice for 45 minutes! Instant rices are parboiled - meaning they have been partially boiled already (the most tedious part). We've used 10-minute rices in burrito bowls, sushi bowls, fried rice, you name it and enjoy the end product and the time savings.
(4) FROZEN PEPPERS & ONIONS
Bell peppers and onions are two of the most versatile veggies you can incorporate into meals no matter the cuisine you're cooking - Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian - they're great! I find that bell peppers tend to go bad quick and sometimes I use up all of my fresh onion with none left. The remedy? A frozen pepper & onion mix that's always available! We've seen these for as little as $0.99 (for 12oz) at our local grocery stores.
(5) READY-TO-EAT SALADS (including salad kits)
You're likely already enjoying pre-washed and chopped salads so don't stop now! We personally try to stick with blends and varieties that go well with multiple things -- such as baby spinach for fresh salads and also smoothies. And one quick pro tip: store your greens with a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture and keep them lasting fresh for longer.
(6) LOW- SODIUM CANNED BEANS
Dry beans can take nearly an entire day depending on how you prepare them -- 4-12 hours soaking and then an additional 1-3 hours to cook on the stove top. It's very clear that canned beans save you a lot of time come mealtime. (Pst! If you can't find a lower sodium variety of canned beans at your grocery store, simply drain and rinse them to reduce the sodium content.)
OTHER CONVENIENT FOODS
(7) SPICE MIXES
OK, OK, this one may be a teenie bit of a stretch, but we LOVE how pre-made spice blends and mixes make our lives easier! (I mean, just imagine measuring each and every spice ingredient that goes into an Everything But the Bagel seasoning, for example.) We're huge fans of the Mrs. DASH line of spice blends as their are salt-free and totally tasty.
(8) PRE-MADE SAUCES
We're pretty convinced that sauces and are the thing that elevates a food from bland to BAM! Find low-sodium and low-sugar sauces to make cooking quicker, yet just as flavorful.
What other convenience foods do you swear by that help you save time in the kitchen? Share with us in the comments below!
Happy April friends!
Over the holidays I received a Costco membership as a gift and I seriously could not have nerded out more! I mean #adultinggoals am I right? And while I grew up going to warehouse clubs with my family, I've never attempted grocery shopping there for myself and my meal plans. So, I thought I'd share just a few DOs and DON'Ts I've learned over the last couple of months in hopes of saving you time, money, and hassle when shopping at Costco for food.
(1) DO BE PREPARED FOR HIGHER PRICE TAGS
I'm still getting used to this one too, but what we have to remember is that while we're paying more upfront, we're often saving per unit. Here's an example... at Costco, I found a 2 lb. bag of seasoned organic croutons for $6.99 (~$0.22/oz), vs. at my local grocer, a 4.5 oz bag for a similar product is $1.99 (~$0.44/oz). More up front, but more savings in the long run!
(2) DON'T BUY ITEMS YOU DON'T NEED.
OK it sounds silly that I'm even saying this, but let's be honest... going to Costco is an experience. There are samples, great deals, exclusive Costco-only items, friendly associates, and even a food court to refuel you if you get the hangries. All of this is the perfect storm to act on your impulses to "Buy! Buy! Buy!" in the moment. But cut through all that, at the end of day if you aren't going to use something then you really are NOT getting a good deal.
(3) DO SHOP THE "MEMBER-ONLY SAVINGS"
The "Member-Only Savings" at Costco seem like they sales last for about 1 month so you have some time to shop and plan for your favorite products vs. scrambling to the store to take advantage of the weekly sales typically found at your local grocery store.
Are the savings worth it? At Costco, I found a 30-count variety pack of 1.5 oz Sun Chips on sale for $8.39 (~$0.19/oz), originally $11.89 (~$0.26/oz). In comparison, at Walmart, a similar variety pack is $15.28 for a 40-count of 1 oz Sun Chips (~$0.38/oz). THAT is savings I'm here for!!
(4) DON'T FORGET YOUR SHOPPING LIST.
If you're saying to yourself, "What shopping list?" then listen up! It may also sound silly to mention, but it is possible that you find Costco doesn't have what you're looking for. (I know, "GASP!") You don't want to aimlessly stroll down the aisles picking up unnecessary items AND you don't want to waste time NOT getting what it is you need for your meal plans. Sometimes, if I'm unsure if Costco carries something, I'll simply search costco.com for the item(s) before I go.
(5) DO MAKE ROOM IN YOUR FRIDGE, FREEZER, & PANTRY
Remember, we're dealing with econo-sized servings here so make sure you clean out the fridge, pantry, and freezer to make room for your new buys. See my next tip for how to easily maximize your food spaces.
(6) DON'T KEEP PRODUCTS IN THEIR PACKAGING
There's a lot of unnecessary packaging materials involved with the jumbo sizes you find at warehouse clubs so to maximize the space I do have in my fridge, pantry, and freezer (and believe me, it's NOT a lot especially living in an apartment), I take products OUT of their originally packaging and then store them away. I'll keep the original packaging, especially if I need the cooking instructions or nutrition info, but this really helps me integrate my Costco finds into my food storage spaces.
Have a pro Costco tip I missed? Tell me in the comments below!
If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we LOVE ALDI. Not only it is truly economical, the quality of the brands they carry are A+++, AND it always makes for a quick shopping trip! (I'm talking less than 30 minutes y'all.) Read on for some of Kristen's favorite buys from one of our favorite grocery stores!
ALDI is one of those stores that I go a little out of my way for. They are a discount grocer whose products often are a lot cheaper than other chain grocery stores. Some of their products are better than others in my opinion. They often carry and stop carrying certain products, but they usually have all of the staples that I need. While this list is not extensive, these are my favorite items to buy from ALDI. I hope this helps you on your next grocery haul!
If you have an ALDI nearby, give them a chance! Make sure you bring your own bags, because they charge for theirs. This is to save you money! Also bring a quarter for a shopping cart, another ingenious way they cut cost. This thrifty grocery store can save you some cash without skimping on your favorite products!
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