Summer has finally arrived and that can a blessing and a curse. The sunshine and warm weather means beach vacations and outdoor entertaining. But it also means spending on camps, travel, and purchasing endless BBQ supplies. Instead of cutting back on family activities, start trimming in the kitchen. There are a ton of ways to save on cooking and entertaining for large groups this summer.
Use Your Spice Rack
If the only “spices” you use are salt and pepper, you’re doing it wrong. You can save a ton on expensive rubs and marinades by making your own at home. Pre-seasoned meats and patties can cost several dollars more per pound, which may not be worth the convenience factor if you’re purchasing food for a large dinner. Instead, experiment with different recipes for rubs or marinades. A handful of ingredients can go a very long way, and help you create a variety of recipes. Here are a few spices and oils you should be sure to have (if you don’t already): cracked pepper, sea salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and olive oil.
Use Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Impress your guests with pan roasted veggies that came straight from the freezer. When cooked properly, frozen produce can make excellent substitutes, and are often significantly cheaper. It’s also a great option for making dishes with items that aren’t in season. Use frozen fruits for quick summer smoothies, or cook them down into sweet sauces to top off dessert pies. Take a bag of your favorite frozen vegetables and toss them into a baking pan and add olive oil, sliced onions, and your favorite seasoning. Cover with aluminum foil and bake them until tender for a healthy and savory side dish.
Find interesting recipes to reuse leftovers
If you find yourself with quite a bit of extra food after a large family gathering, try to think of creative ways to reuse items. Whether you have a half a pound of ground meat or 8 chicken breasts leftover, integrating leftovers into new recipes will keep your family happy while reducing the amount of food you waste. Take leftover meat and vegetables to make chicken salad sandwiches, sloppy joes, recipes with chili, and more. Here’s a super easy recipe that uses chicken, beans and veggies. You can either used leftover items or start from scratch!
- 1 can 15 oz each Rosarita® Premium Whole Black Beans, drained, rinsed
- 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
- 1 can 10 oz each Ro*Tel® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 5 oz each
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat. If you plan to bake the packets, preheat your oven to 425°F.
Stir together beans, corn, drained tomatoes and cumin in medium bowl.
Place four 18x12-inch pieces of heavy foil on counter. Spray each with cooking spray and place 1 breast in center on each piece of foil.
Spoon the bean mixture over chicken for each packet. Bring up short sides of each foil packet and double fold top. Double fold both ends to seal each packet, leaving space for steam to gather.
Place packets on grate of covered grill. Grill 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in centers (165°F). If using an oven, bake the on a shallow pan in 425°F oven 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in centers.
Carefully open packets; sprinkle 1/4th cheese on top of each breast. Close foil and let stand 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
Author Bio: Brittany writes about frugal living and family dinner ideas on behalf of Marie Callender’s Meals. For more easy meal ideas, visit www.mariecallendersmeals.com.