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I Saved $230 A Month at the Grocery Store with Extreme Cooking

Not only does cooking ahead save money, but it saves time. Shopping once a week with two children is a nightmarish scenario. When I say I would rather poke sharp sticks in my eyes than maneuver through WalMart with a full cart and two whiny, crying beggars it's not an exaggeration. I will literally do anything to avoid it (even shop at 9pm when I'd rather be in bed). Cooking ahead also stops the plague of missing ingredients. Menu planning isn't the answer to an organized life. I've planned my menus for years but inevitably I'd be cooking my planned dinner and find I was missing a key ingredient. This caused me to have to send my husband to the store after a hard day when he'd rather be playing on the floor with the girls. Now that my dinners are all cooked at one time, all the ingredients are conveniently already in there! The only things I'm left to prepare every day are easy sides like salads, garlic bread and the occasional can of corn.

Speaking of having nothing to do every day but throw some corn in the microwave, cooking ahead saves energy. I guess you could say it's "green." (It remains to be seen if I can get a 500 billion dollar loan from the Obama administration. Perhaps I should apply for one.) Any person responsible for cooking nightly meals for the family can tell you the sheer terror one feels when staring at frozen chicken at 4:30pm. Cooking ahead takes all the stress out of dishing up a great meal. My favorite pre-made meals are slow-cooker dinners. The browned, frozen pork chops are the perfect ingredient for the crock pot. I take them out in the morning, plop them frozen in the slow-cooker and toss in some apple juice and cranberries, or soy sauce and orange juice, or any number of other things that are good on pork and forget about it. When dinner time rolls around, all I have to do is set the table and heat up some rice and veggies. It has given me an extra hour and a half to take care of other important things, like trolling Facebook... I mean, laundry.

Next: No more rotten vegetables and wasted money...