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Make-ahead and freeze for quick meals

By on May 28, 2012
fried ground beef

Cook meat and poultry, stick it in the freezer and pull it out for quick meals. For example, chicken can be roasted and shredded for sandwiches, quesadillas, soups or casseroles. The first reader tip shares her method of freezing ground beef:

 

Pre-cook ground beef:

Freeze browned hamburger in meal-sized portions. I freeze it in pint jars, which works in any recipe that calls for a pound of hamburger, and I throw in onions, bell peppers, celery, etc. depending on what I need to use up at the time. It helps the meat go further and adds flavor. It’s a big time-saver because you can thaw and use it in so many recipes without having to fry it up and then clean up the mess after. — S.D., Minnesota
Note from Sara: Do not fill the jar to the top when freezing in canning jars, to avoid breakage. Leave room for expansion and use straight wide-mouthed jars rather than jars with curved “shoulders”. Many wide-mouthed canning jars have a fill line marked on the jar. Plastic freezer storage jars from Ball are an option, too. Also, you can boil ground beef. To learn more about boiling ground beef rather than frying it, visit: frugalvillage.com/2007/01/04/thrifty-thursday-question-hamburger-crumbles.

Small welding repair:

For small welding jobs, check your local hardware store for a product called J-B Weld. It comes with two ingredients that, when mixed together, form a clay-like ball that hardens after you make the repairs. We fixed my daughter’s iron bed with it. It works great and looks like metal when it cures. — Gert, email

Reuse sheet packaging:

I just read your recent column about other uses for the small fabric bag Walmart sheets are packaged in. I am a saver, so it never crosses my mind to toss something. I travel for work and I use the sheet bags to hold undergarments, important paperwork that needs to be kept clean (copy of passport, car rental agreement, etc.), a small clock and a nightlight. I have different colored bags, which makes the items easy to find in my luggage. — Sue F., email

Free garbage bags, plus mulch:

Every fall, people around my neighborhood set out garbage bags full of leaves to be picked up. When I tap on their door and ask if I may have their bags of leaves for my garden, they are usually delighted to see them go! I don’t have to buy garbage bags all winter, and I just mow/mulch the leaves into my garden. — Suzan, New York

Weekly school clothes plan:

I have a great system for making sure my kids’ school clothes are ready each week. I put all of their clothes for the week in their own laundry basket, socks and all. Just a few minutes of preparation on Sunday saves valuable time before school each day. — Stacia, forums

Easy baked potato:

Here’s a faster way to make a baked potato. First, wash the potato and rub it with oil and salt. Next, cook the potato in the microwave for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of the potato), making sure to poke holes in it first, which speeds up the cooking. Then put it in the oven for about five minutes to make the skin crispy. Takes a lot less time, and tastes no different. — Shana, email

Eggshells, and the animals that love them:

I saved up eggshells two years ago, then crushed and scattered them around my green pepper plants. The next day all of the plants had been dug up and were laying on the ground. Turns out we had a skunk living under our shed, and skunks love eggshells! She dug up every plant near them. Needless to say, I won’t be using eggshells in my garden again. — P.T., Colorado

Eggshells in chicken feed:

When we had chickens, we would feed them eggshells for extra calcium. We learned the hard way, however, that if you aren’t careful in your preparation, the chickens will acquire a taste for eggs. It’s a very frustrating problem, having to deal with egg-eating chickens. To avoid the trouble, dry the eggshells, grind them up and add them to the chickens’ mash. — Jo S., forums

photo by yurilong

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns GenXZ, Follow me on Twitter

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