Friday, November 7, 2008

Holiday Bites #4: Time is money

I made soup yesterday for lunch. Awesome soup. Rib-sticking soup. The best I've had in a long time. I made Baked Potato Soup using this recipe as a foundation but making a few substitutions based on what I had in the house and the comments others had left on the site. (I used half milk and half chicken broth, seasoned salt for regular salt and threw some chives in for color). The best thing I did was since I didn't have fresh green onions I used up the last handful of frozen chopped onion in my freezer. A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store and saw that they sold chopped onion in small freezer bags right by the frozen peas and corn. It was less than a euro for the bag so I decided to "splurge" and try it out. Oh my word! What a time-saver! I will not allow myself to stop and figure out what I am paying in a per kilo price for those onions vs buying fresh ones and chopping them myself because "time is money". With all the extra busyness of the holidays I allow myself a few conveniences that I might not ordinarily have in the grocery cart. I think frozen chopped onions are going to be one of those. Another is what I brought home from my morning at IKEA today. Frozen Swedish Meatballs. Yes, I am paying 7 euros a kilo for the frozen ones and it is only 4.35 to buy a kilo of ground beef, but then I have to mix up the meat, form it into tiny balls,brown them, and freeze them. All that time and effort is worth more than 2.65 to me. I now have 5 bags of meatballs in the freezer and a couple packages of brown gravy mix. On busy days I know I can pull a bag out and heat it on the stove (or throw it in the crockpot early in the day) and turn it into one of several easy meal options. This Sunday it is going in the crockpot with spaghetti sauce for meatball subs. Another day they can go over rice with brown gravy. Or thrown in spaghetti sauce. Or in BBQ sauce. Get the picture? Better food than making sandwiches and a lot cheaper than a trip to McDonald's or Pizza Hut.
Today's Holiday Bite is to think of one or two convenience foods, or staple foods that you can pick up the next time you are at the store to have in your freezer or pantry. With the extra running around that goes with the Holidays it will remove some stress when you know that a home-cooked dinner can be on the table just minutes after coming home, and all the ingredients are already there waiting for you.
What is your favorite "pantry meal"? What convenience food or short cut tip do you just love?