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Friday's Frugalities

September 26, 2014

FF #11 – Frozen Delight

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 Ha! Fooled you... While I will never turn down ice cream, I don't mean to burst your bubble, but we are not discussing ice cream today.


Ha! Fooled you… While I will never turn down ice cream, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but we are not discussing ice cream today.

I’ve always been a firm believer in fresh fruits and veggies. With the exception of those super tasty little mandarin oranges, I typically shy away from canned produce. Mr. Maroon has often touted the benefits of frozen produce. Still, call me a skeptic because I’ve just never really bought into it. Cue the enlightenment…

 

We have a freezer full of various meats. We have always been disciples of the buy in bulk and freeze for later mentality, dating back many years. Certainly a concept my mother-in-law lived by. So much so that when she wanted to give us a housewarming gift upon purchasing our first home five years ago, she chose a vacuum food sealer for long term food preservation. (Note that the second choice of a wine cooler trailed by only a few points – love when gifts also include an alcohol component too!) So we regularly stock up on bulk meats and repackage them to freeze in individual servings. A while back Mr. Maroon decided we needed to enhance our freezer collection with a variety of veggies too. My hesitation was always rooted in the idea that fresh was better. Well, I finally stepped out of that shell.

 

Which brings us to cooking supper earlier this week. Since we have such a plentiful freezer, and a well-stocked pantry, I’ve decided to try to buy zero groceries for the week. Doesn’t hurt that the Maroon household has been pretty unusual the last two weeks with the arrival of Mini Maroon 2 and the associated stream of visitors – no grocery run has been made, not even a thought has been given to what our meals will be. I have rested on the idea that I know we have groceries, and I will make something work.

 

One of those ideas centered around stir fry – easy and quick meal to whip up. So as I stare into the freezer in bewilderment as to how to pull it together, my brain starts to see: chicken breast (duh, obvious choice there), snap peas (oh yeah, those are in lots of stir fry dishes), sliced bell peppers (hmmm, that will save a ton of time), and corn/pea/green bean mix (lots of good nutrients). After dicing my chicken breast, pouring in my complement of veggies, making a sauce off the top of my head, and cooking a little rice, supper is done. And after just eating some leftovers for lunch, tasted pretty darn good, in my humble opinion.

 

The true lightbulb moment for me in preparing our stir fry was the bell peppers. I love bell peppers, especially the red and orange ones. I like them sautéed with onions, stuffed and grilled, sliced and raw for dipping – you name it. And I’ve always had a knack for naturally being drawn to the more expensive version of an item. The green ones are always so much cheaper in the store, but not nearly as palatable. In fact, when perusing a new grocery store, one of my barometers for the overall affordability of the entire store is the price of red bell peppers.

 

The genius of the frozen bell peppers jumps out at me. In order to get the array of bell peppers I used in the stir fry, I would have needed half of a green, half of a red, and half of an orange pepper. Then I would have spent the time washing (well soaking) each and slicing it. Plus, then I have three half-peppers left over. I know I could certainly use them later in the week, but there is always the potential for waste. After a little research at the local store, those three peppers would have cost me $4.50. Even assuming the other half of each was re-used later, that’s still $2.25. Now, the frozen version for the same portion cost me $0.50 (maybe). Every little bit counts! (Bear in mind that I would never actually spend the $4.50 for three bell peppers. I refuse to buy the colored ones that the astonishingly high price of $1.99 each from my recent store visit.)

 

Now, I don’t think I’m going to switch over to only frozen produce. I still firmly believe in the benefits of fresh. But I also can respect the value locked inside my freezer when it comes to making healthy choices for feeding my family. I also see immense value in having readily-available food products as opposed to perishable ones. At this point, I think I could continue to promote frozen produce, but will save that for another time as I shift my attention to my newest priority…

 

~ Mrs. Maroon

 

Side note: Being parents of a newborn baby is one of the greatest things ever. Mr. Maroon and I have looked back and realized how much we miss that phase from Mini Maroon 1. He’s awesome now, and I truly mean that. But nothing is sweeter than cuddling up with a newborn while they sleep on your chest. Nothing.

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