October 22, 2017

C.O.S.T. cooking โ€“ have you thought ahead?


Since I am the Queen of Best Intentions, I challenged myself to put my money where my mouth was during some of my meal planning/couponing posts, and “walk the talk” with C.O.S.T. cooking – Cook once, Serve Twice (or three times).

If you double or triple your cooking, it will save you time later and will give you meals that you can prepare in less than 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minute dinners, my friends.
What is the cost of not planning ahead?
I was going to answer this rhetorical question, but I will leave you to fill in the blank for your own family.
(If you didn’t read about it the first time around, I have multiple posts, but the one where I give Grocery Grumps -1.
Scroll down to the second half of that post with specifics since I won’t go into all the details again here. ๐Ÿ™‚

For so many of you, this may come naturally, but as the food costs rise, and life becomes busier, it seems that this is an area which causes stress and ma ham in kitchens around the blog world.

Seeing what someone else has done might just inspire a little kitchen creativity this weekend.
So join me….take one hour to copy me or some other foodie and ease the mealtime mountain next week. This just might be the solution. Iron sharpens iron and I need to be held accountable in this grueling area as well.
As I was cooking this, I was literally just trying to get basic food on the table for my family, and then after the fact, I thought of taking pictures. I undid the spaghetti casserole after it had already been put in the freezer, so this isn’t much of a tutorial FYI.

Get out of that chair right now, and grab as much ground beef from your freezer that you have on hand.
Go on, I’ll give you a little time.ย 
Once you are done doing these simple tasks you will have ten minute dinners ready and available at a moments (or ten moments) notice.

After it’s thawed, get going…cook up that stuff and drain that grease.
Oh, it looks a bit gross in that pan picture.
If you want to do just a bit more work, but work that’s so worth it….add fresh garlic, onions, and green peppers…..yum!
Now depending on how much you have browned, start separating it into zip lock bags.
You can see in the picture below, that I had about 2 pounds of beef that I seasoned with taco seasoning.
and sealed in a Ziplock bag.
We feasted on taco salad, taco dip, and burritos throughout the week…all from this meat mixture…meals in minutes literally.
Typically, we never miss a week without taco soup, but we sure will have it this week.

Ok, I hear your screaming…we want recipes!!
Ladies – the beauty of Mexican is that you can add whatever you want…even if cooking terrifies you. Start with these basics…it’s so easy! Any of my children can fix their own dinner from these options. I promise!
Here are some ideas, but they change based on what produce was marked down, what items I have stock piled or purchased with my BOGO free items.

Taco salad – layer a plate with crushes tortilla chips, romaine lettuce (as yummy as ice burg is..stay away if you can help it – no nutritional value), top with the seasoned meat mixture, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and dollop of sour cream to top it off.
My mouth is salivating as I think of this favorite meal of mine. I love to mix just a tad of Catalina dressing in it, but my kids opt for ranch. Your choice.
Of course, get as healthy as you want by adding fresh tomatoes or green/ red peppers
Any of the above works well in your burrito/taco…just heat the burrito and melt that yummy cheese.
Taco dip….this is almost a daily staple at our home.
I will do this as a vegetarian option quite often with taco soup seasoning, and then add more beans. If beans make you wary, start with black beans. All of my kids LOVE them, and they are so good for you.
Mix seasoning, meat, cottage cheese if you want it low fat (or cream cheese), sour cream, black beans, cheese, salsa, peppers (my kids will eat them raw in this dip), salsa….stir and go at it with tortilla chips.

Once I removed the taco seasoned ground beef (for anything Mexican), I also put a small baggy of ground beef mixed with Italian Mozzarella seasoning.
This made delicious “meatloaf muffins” made with the meat mixture, and Pillsbury Grand biscuits that I had stocked up on with my double coupons.
I will post the recipe if anyone is interested. They are great for dinner or served the next day…cold…for lunches.
The ground beef that was left quite lonely in the skillet became homemade spaghetti sauce. I served half of it over noodles the same night, and the other half became Dream spaghetti – another family favorite. This I froze for a later date.
I know some of this I went over from an early post, but they say that it takes five times for something to sink in? hee hee
I know that one of you attention to detail ladies will notice what I wrapped around the casserole dish.
Yes, it’s true….I recycle grocery bags and use them for almost everything. I rarely spend money on wraps…and only then with a great coupon.
I add just a bit of plastic wrap (if anyone’s worried about germs), and then I really seal it with a plastic bag.

So for less than one hour of work, I had six meals (and taco dip) set for the week.
I can’t tell you what a stress reliever it was. So just go for it.
Stop procrastinating…ha…coming from the Queen….and have some fun in the kitchen.
I promise it will pay huge dividends, not just in time management, but also in the pocket book.ย I know this is now two posts without a complete bedlam moment…trust me, they are continually happening. When I was cooking all these great amazing meat mixtures, let’s just say our dog agreed…..grrrrr……



  1. Suzann @ Lavender and Roses says:

    Some great ideas. I really need to figure out how to trim our grocery budget and make certain I have satisfying, healthy and handy meals for the week.


  2. justabeachkat says:

    Hi Jen

    Thanks for visiting me tonight and leaving a comment. It’s always fun to get to know other bloggers. I’m not sure how you found me, but I’m glad you did. I hope you’ll come again…you’re always welcome.

    I’ve sure enjoyed my visit here. You’ve got a very nice blog…such great ideas. I do some of the same things you do but on a much smaller scale now that it’s just the two of us. Another idea, buy extra ground beef and while some is browning for the uses you mentioned, try using some of it to make meatballs for other meals. I flash freeze mine and then I put them in individual bags for meatball sandwiches and pasta dishes. Doing things ahead of time really helps in the long run.



  3. Sandy Toes says:

    I love your COST…that is so cute!! I like leftovers but my husband does not…I can’t even get him to eat for lunch! This is one thing…other than that he can make a penny scream!

    -Sandy Toes


  4. that is def. the way i cook, and plan ahead to get 2 or 3 meals out of it! great post!


  5. You’ve got some great ideas here!

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to come and meet me yesterday. It was such a joy to hang out with you and the rest of the girls. I was beyond thrilled that you all wanted to meet me too.

    You are just as sweet, fun and kind in real life as you are on your blog. I can’t wait to come back and visit again!



  6. The Tripp Family says:

    yum! I love me some taco ANYthing!! Now if only my husband would eat ground beef…


  7. Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead says:

    I LOVE this concept. My freezer gets so stocked, that sometimes I can take a whole week off of cooking. Or I can throw something healthy together because I have cooked, chopped chicken in the freezer and veggies to throw together with pasta that I can cook in 10 minutes. Not THAT’S fast food!

    I just saw your pretty face on Nester’s blog. HOW FUN!


  8. Wow…some great ideas. I have come across your blog and love it. I am going to add you to my blog roll if that is ok so that I can continue to get great ideas to balance my life out! Thanks for sharing some great ideas!


  9. Imperfect says:

    I can understand that. It’s a good story for sure, but it’s certainly not a kid book (I wouldn’t even call it a teen book). Anyway, love your ideas and advice…as usual!


  10. Thank you again! I save 22.00 this week at Walgreens and after I figure out the rebate stuff I’ll have gotten more things free!!! FREE!!! Thanks for the kick in the pants. Also browned my first 5 lbs of ground beef last night – I think we’ll get six meals out of it – maybe a few lunches. Can’t thank you enough!

    Our family should be mexican. Now I know why they are so good at being frugal.


  11. Cherry's Jubilee says:

    I so need to do this…my grocery shopping is horribley disorganized. I hang my head in shame. Thanks for these great tips. cherry


  12. new every morning says:

    Yes!!! We want the recipe for the meatloaf muffins!

    I’m so jealous that I missed out on the NC meeting of the blogminds! I thought of you as I drove through your area on Tuesday on the way to the mountains.

    We’ve got to meet one day … I want to come visit your church too!


  13. Sarah Mae says:

    Okay, I know this has nothing to do with you delicious post, but of course I still love ya! Take your time! When I had my giveaway, God bless the poor woman, I was sick and I didn’t get her her vacuum cleaner for more than a month! I don’t even know if she still reads my blog! No worries from my end! ๐Ÿ™‚


  14. I so need to do this and then I won’t be freaking out everyday about 5:00 wondering what in the heck I am going to cook for supper and then having to run to the store. Every week I say I am going to plan my meals, but I never do. I am going to try to be like you Miss Smarty Pants and do better!


  15. Lauren and Justin says:

    SO SO SO SO SO good to catch up with you on Friday! HOWEVER, it was not enough time – we must do it again! I hope you’re having a great weekend ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. this maybe a dumb question but where were the $2 coupons…? I know its after the5th, I am curious, out of the paper?


  17. Mrs. Trixi says:

    Ok, Jen, I have my coupons cut out and got the CVS circular. What are you planning to buy and save on this week? I didn’t do so great on my first trip but I am learning. Thank you for sharing all of your budget friendly ideas.


  18. Great ideas! I find having meals in the freezer really cuts down on those nights I don’t want to cook and we’d normally have take out.



  19. Ruby Red Slippers says:

    I appreciate all your nice comments on my blog-Thank you!
    I love the idea of cooking up a bunch of meat into different taco dishes. Why haven’t I ever thought of that! We are huge Mexican fans, so I will be doing this…Great idea!


  20. I love it and my mouth is watering. Thanks for the heartfelt comment on post about schooling. You are one of my faves Jen. Truly. And yes, iron sharpens iron ๐Ÿ˜‰


  21. Just wanted to let you know that I linked over to you in this post
    Thanks for all the inspirations!


  22. new every morning says:

    hey girlie!
    I wanted to ask you about something …
    can you leave me a way to contact you (I won’t publish the info)


  23. Um, do I really have to do this? I think I have about 50lb of ground beef in the freezer…


  24. That is a great Ideal. I need to start doing things like this again. My kids are grown and move out. So I had to learn to cook for 2. This would work .
    Have a great week.


  25. What's next says:

    I’ve been trying to do this also and some cooking ahead… have to share with you that I took my ready taco meat out, added a lg can diced tomatoes, 1 can corn, 1 can black beans and water and made a yummy taco soup, then for the next day I cooked it again for a long time till almost all of the liq. was gone and it was THE BEST CHILI type stuff, served with cheese and sour cream… I’m making it again this weekend it was so good…


  26. Meredith@MerchantShips says:

    Grocery bags!!! Now I really do love your style : )


  27. Your Frugal Friend, Niki says:

    Good post. I try to batch cook at least one of my meals at least once a week and freeze the doubled or tripled portions.



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