Preparing for Summer in the Kitchen
Summer is right around the corner and that means it will be hot soon. I know that when it is really hot I don't want to get in the kitchen and cook. I don't want to use my oven, I don't want to bake anything, and I want to eat out. Eating out all summer is not going to fit into our budget though, so I came up with some other ideas. Here are some of the things you can do to make summer in the kitchen a little better and more frugal.
Start cooking now and freeze things to pull out over the summer. Quick breads are easy to make, freeze well and can be pulled out at night to thaw so they are ready in the morning. I have already put three loaves of banana bread in the freezer and plan on making muffins as well. Pumpkin muffins and chocolate chip muffins both freeze well. Breakfast is then very easy and you didn't have to heat up your kitchen by baking when it is 90 degrees outside.
For more easy breakfasts mix up a few batches of waffles or pancakes and you have another fast and easy breakfast food all summer. Freeze separately on cookie trays and once they are frozen toss into large Ziploc bags. This way it is easy to pull out exactly how many you need and they won't be stuck together.
Now let's talk about dinner. The sun beats into our kitchen in the late afternoon making it extremely hot. The last thing I want to do is stand over a stove and there is only so much grilling we can do. I have started making double of certain meals now and freezing half. This will allow me to just pull dinner out of the freezer in the morning and pop in the oven around dinner time. There are no excuses for not cooking when it is that easy.
Other things you can do to make meal preparations easier include browning extra ground beef, browning extra sausage (we use this on pizza), freezing chicken in different marinades (they will be ready for the grill), and making up hamburger patties and freezing separately (we like to mix Worcestershire sauce and pepper in our hamburgers). A delicious side dish that freezes well is twice baked potatoes. Make a dozen or so of these, wrap in tinfoil and heat on the grill next to the chicken. Keeping easy side dishes such as baked beans on hand will help to complete a meal as well.
Don't forget the treats either. Most cookies and even cupcakes freeze well. Make a few batches now and you can pull them out throughout the summer. Using your oven less in the summer will keep your air conditioning costs down as well. The oven heats up your kitchen, which requires the AC to work harder to cool your home. Cooking ahead now will reduce your energy costs later.
I don't think that you can freeze enough of all the foods you eat to last three months, but if you can get a few dinners, a few breakfast items, and some partial meals frozen and ready to go it will help battle those too hot to cook days. This will save you money on eating out and on purchasing convenience foods. I have a lot more preparations to do in my kitchen before the hot weather really hits, but I am looking forward to doing it so that I won't have to cook so much when it is hot.