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time and money saving ideas...

There have been a lot of good ideas out there on these subjects and I thought it would be nice to have a thread to bring them all together. As today is my big prep day I thought I'd give a few of mine . I've posted some of these before but I figured it might help some one out.

I very rarely eat out because:
1)too expensive
2)small town very few options for a vegan
3)BF in wheel chair and too much snow

I work full time and BF can't help out so I am always looking for short cuts, this gives me more time to look at vegweb :) So here are my best ideas. I hope it helps.

My first big help time saver is a shopping/prepping day. If you need something 4 times a week do it once. I try to make sure I have a complete list so I only have to shop once a week. This saves time and money, the less often you are at a store the less options you have to grab stuff you really don't need.
When I get home I immediately wash all my fresh veg. Any thing I can chop that will keep for a few days I go ahead and chop. things like cucumber and tomatoes you can only chop a day or two ahead but zucchini and other harder veg will keep chopped 4/5 days in the fridge.
On this day I also make up my salads for the week. I eat salad at every meal so I make up some big salads for meals at home w/ BF and some smaller ones to throw in my bag for lunch at work. I love to put grapes in my salads they are sweeter and cheaper then out of season tomatoes and they don't go slimy like a pre chopped tomato. If you put a dry paper towel in the container it helps keep the humidity right and the salad stays fresh longer.
I use onions and garlic in most meals so I chop this on Sundays and use it throughout the week. I take 5 med onions peeled and quartered and 2 or 3 heads of garlic peeled. I throw all of this in the food processor and pulse until I get the chop I want and then throw it in a glass jar in the fridge. This is much easier than chopping onion and garlic each night. You just scoop out the amount needed. The glass jar is important though plastic leaks smells and everything in you fridge will have a faint onion taste. (not so good in soymilk)

Another big time and money saver is making you own convenience mixes. pancakes, cornbread, ricepilafs,soup mixes, etc. these are all so easy to grab in the store but most are at a cost premium and have all sorts of questionable chemicals. So make you own. It's also nice because you can control the size to suit your family size. I like to use glass jars,especially for pancakes because you can add your liquids and then just shake and pour. it doesn't get any easier than that. When you are making something just set out your jars or baggies etc. and measure out the dry ingredients into  each container and then close up and label w/ any wet ingredients that will need to be added. Then stick it on the shelf and you have it the next time you want a quick cornbread. My BF has fallen in love w/ the coconut pancakes from VwaV and now I mix up 4or 5 patches at a time and they ready for me on sat mornings and it's not so tedious. You can do this w/ just about any recipe but if you want some ideas there is a book series out there called gifts from a jar all of the recipes can be veganized easily and there ideas from muffins to full meals. If you have a larger family to serve (7) they also make 2quart jars.

Freezing is another time/money saver. I don't have a freezer that freezes right now but when I did I used this quite a bit. You can cook up big batches of soups etc and then freeze them in the appropriate size container. This works well for beans and some casseroles as well. Just make sure you label things well.

I'm sure that I have more ideas but these are the ones that I can think of now.

Oh and I forgot the meal planner and grocerlist on this sight are great tools too. If you have a plan for what you are going to make for the week its easier to do big prep days. I usually plan out 5 days and this gives my some leeway for spur of the moment ideas or cravings.

These are all awesome ideas!  I definitely make up a huge crockpot of chili or stew once a week to refridgerate or freeze, which then provides my husband and I with a whole week's worth of lunches.  This last week I took someone's idea (maybe yours, tanevab?) to put portions into muffin tins for freezing, which I love.

I also try to buy some prechopped stuff, too, whenever the price is right.  At Trader Joe's you can buy a 9oz jar of crushed garlic for like $1.30, and I can't tell you how much time this saves me in peeling and crushing garlic.  TJ's also sells chopped onion and mushrooms that are really affordable, so when I'm low on time I buy those, and am still able to throw together a good, quick dinner.  Good quality frozen veggies can also be your friend.  Of course it's better to use fresh, but when you're short on time/energy, it's better to make a stirfry or curry from frozen veggies than to just eat pb on bread or something.  Trader Joe's sells cheap organic frozen veggies, and I like to keep them around for just such "emergencies"  ;).

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I'm a big fan of frozen veg too but my freezer wont freeze right now :'( I'm hopping to get a big chest style freezer before summer so I can freeze my own veg again.

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Another big time and money saver is making you own convenience mixes. . . . . . . . . I like to use glass jars

I was considering all weekend how I want to start doing this, and especially like the part about controlling the size to suit your family (feeding 8 here). Problem is, I detest plastic, and when I can find a glass jar big enough to be of any worth (to my itty-bitty-teensy-weensy family). . . it usually has a "rescued" insect or spider in it. . . . ::)

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Ball company makes half gallon size canning jars at a reasonable cost or another idea that I just thought of is talk to a local restaurant and ask if they could save you some of gallon size jars that food comes in. I know a lot of times pickles and salad dressings still come in glass jars.

I hate plastic as well. I love how well glass stores food. You don't have to deal w/ odd odors, stains, or misformed lids like w/ plastic. I always save my plastic containers that I get from margarine and stuff to send home leftovers and meals w/ other people and let them know that they don't need to return them ;)

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7, with your large family you could also do smaller batches and then work up 2-3 (or whatever you need) when making something. it would make a little more for dishes, but it would be fun to have different pancake, waffle, etc flavors to pick from. and if your kids help, the smaller jars would be easier for them to manage!

but tanevab you have great ideas here! its just me, so i usually cook a pot or two on the weekend and eat over the week and make something easy, like soup, midweek. i like using frozen veggies because i'm on a budget and can't see the reason to spend 2-3 times the amount on fresh. i would rather do fresh because they have a nicer texture, but as ungreen noted, they can make a nice fast dinner!

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Great ideas! I got in the habbit of freezing fresh veggies. We have a veggie garden. So all summer, we have fresh veggies. But we get so many! So I blanch and freeze green beans, ect so we have them in the winter also. I also make my own stir fry veggies and freeze them. I cut up onions and peppers and throw then in the freezer for later use. Makes a good quick stir fry.

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Ooh, I love these ideas...  For some weird reason it has never occured to me to freeze my own veggies...  You could chop up a huge batch with the food processor and then freeze them... genius! 

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Great ideas! I got in the habbit of freezing fresh veggies. We have a veggie garden. So all summer, we have fresh veggies. But we get so many! So I blanch and freeze green beans, ect so we have them in the winter also. I also make my own stir fry veggies and freeze them. I cut up onions and peppers and throw then in the freezer for later use. Makes a good quick stir fry.

Silly quest. but do you COOK the onions  and peppers first?

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Silly quest. but do you COOK the onions  and peppers first?

No.

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Onions and peppers do not get cooked but any green veg, carrots, etc should be lightly blanched first. Tomatoes should be peeled.  Zucchini, potatoes, and eggplant have never worked well for me. Corn can be frozen raw too. Herbs freeze well when pureed w/ oil. It's works really to freeze them in ice cube trays and then use as needed.

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Great ideas! I got in the habbit of freezing fresh veggies. We have a veggie garden. So all summer, we have fresh veggies. But we get so many! So I blanch and freeze green beans, ect so we have them in the winter also. I also make my own stir fry veggies and freeze them. I cut up onions and peppers and throw then in the freezer for later use. Makes a good quick stir fry.

Silly quest. but do you COOK the onions  and peppers first?

Nope. They freeze well raw. My mom did it for many years.

Tanevvab, I have to agree. Zucchini doesn't freeze well. But I have cooked potatoes then froze them. It wasn't too bad. Raw is tricky, though. I also agree with the corn. I buy a bunch and freeze them raw or lightly blanch them then freeze them. I have made a vegan pesto (I should post my recipe) and froze that as well. I "pick" at it when needed and it still tastes great. My trick is to put the pesto in a ziplock bag, get the air out (gently), and freeze the bag flat. Then open the bag, "chip" away what you need, close it and throw it back in the freezer... Easy as pie.

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when my ex and i were living together i used to put the opened stuff in the regular freezer and the non opened stuff in the deep freezer. when i get out of here i might get 2 deep freezers one for veggies and one for meat (when i have meat eaters around and that freezer will be smaller). i will definitly plan a weeks worth of meals one day, shop for them the next and cook the same day or cook it the next day (or something like that).

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I freeze all my veggie's etc on a cookie sheet until they are hard, then put them into a freezer bag.  That way they are individually frozen and you can just take out what you need.  I use a lot of tomato paste so I buy it in the large cans...if I don't use all of it I put it in a small bag and freeze it.  When I need some I just cut off a knob.  When I make pesto, I put  it into tart pans which are about 1 to 2 tablespoons each, freeze it, then pop them out into a freezer bag.  If I don't need that much I just cut it in half.  I also keep a soup bay in the freezer.  When ever I have left over's ( you know 1/2 cup or less ) I just add it to the soup bag then when it gets kinda full, I make soup! 

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