Monday, August 11, 2008

Jam-Packed Weekend

(okay, bad pun)
One of my favorite money saving tools of all time is my freezer. We bought a small chest freezer about 8 months ago to supplement our refrigerator’s freezer section, and I know that within the next 6 months it will have paid for itself. Not only is it great to be able to purchase greater quantities of perishable sale items for future use, but it’s also a great time savings when I can prepare a double amount of a meal and freeze half for later.

But I can’t keep stuffing things into it constantly without eventually taking something out. It’s been getting a little cramped in there and I need to clean it out a bit, organize what’s in there, and make an inventory so that I use up my freezer stocks to strategically stretch my food dollars.

This weekend I did a little freezer magic... After Thanksgiving, huge bags of fresh cranberries were on sale for practically nothing, so I bought a bag and threw it in the freezer. Cranberries are very easy to freeze because they don’t need any prep work at all and they freeze beautifully. Since the end of the summer is typically when I make jams and jellies and can veggies, it’s also the time of year when my stocks are lowest.

This year, our personal crops weren’t very abundant and we haven’t had a lot of time to hit the farmer’s market, so my canning adventures have been few and far between. But I decided it was time to make a bit of room in the freezer and fill up the jab cupboard at the same time. I searched around for a yummy sounding cranberry jam and came up with this one. The addition of cinnamon was intriguing and I wanted to see how it would turn out.

Cranberry Jam

It turned out great-looking and -smelling. I haven’t tried it on toast yet, the ultimate test, but should tomorrow.

I also put up a few containers of strawberry freezer jam since I found a great deal on strawberries at the grocery store but didn’t get a good picture. I used the standard recipe that comes in the liquid pectin package. Has anyone else tried this? This was my first time for a non-cooked jam and the sugar didn’t seem to combine in properly. Is this normal with freezer jam?

I’ll try to get our menu plan posted sometime today. It’s been tremendously helpful for me to plan out our meals at the beginning of the week, since when I get the question “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I have a solid answer. It makes grocery shopping a very streamlined affair as well. My weekly grocery trips are getting quicker and less expensive the more consistently I meal plan.

What time or money saving trick has been working best for you lately? Please comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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