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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Plethora of Onions

A while ago, Funny About Money wrote of near-apoplexy at the sight of a $1.00 onion at the grocery. Even though she had gone to the grocery expressly for the onion, the price so shocked her that she left---onion-less. Most of us frugalistas have done similar silly things: after all, a dollar won't kill you, plus you wasted that money on gas, plus you wasted your precious time. I know I've had price freak-outs myself.

So imagine my delight when the most recent ad for Piggly-Wiggly featured 3 pounds of onions for a mere dollar. How I wish I could pass that price on to Funny! The great thing is that a new Piggly-Wiggly opened right on our commuting route. I check the ad every Wednesday and stop off to get whatever is good. Mr FS snoozes on the car for the 15 minutes it takes.

Now I am the owner of 9 pounds of onions. Needless to say, these will not last forever. Here's what we do: we roughly chop 3 pounds and put them in the slow cooker with a bit of oil. For a long time. This results in an approximation of caramelized onions. We freeze the resulting much=reduced onions in a zip-lock.

I've written about this before. The best part is how much time it saves. The money is actually merely a nice bonus. What percentage of recipes start: "Chop and saute an onion"? 50% at least. Then you have to wash your cutting board, knife, pot, and hands.

So, once I have my frozen treasure, I might break off a chunk and throw it into a pot of potatoes. Add a little stock (or not), simmer, and puree when soft with your stick blender. Add some butter. Dinner is ready!

Oh, you need more veggies? Throw some chopped spinach into the pot.

Think of all the recipes you could use this for. Do you have any tricks like this?



Shelley said...

I essentially stopped buying honey when they tripled the price overnight - on the store's own brand. I might buy it again, it wouldn't break the bank, but I wanted to see if they were just trying it on. The price has dropped slightly, but not to what it was. I suppose honey bees are becoming an endangered species. In the meantime, I've enjoyed various preserves at a quarter the price and lately I'm eating naked toast for breakfast and enjoying the flavour of the homemade bread by itself.

I haven't employed my crockpot nearly as creatively as you - I've only hauled all the leeks in the garden (going to flower) into the kitchen and spent a couple of hours chopping, blanching and putting into separate bags.

A friend brought me two grocery bags of apples from her garden and Bill and I spent a couple of hours coring, peeling anything unattractive and bagging. Our spare freezer in the garage is now full of bargains and stock piles.

What I really need to do now is get better about taking stuff out instead of buying more. I use up stuff in the cupboards far more easily than things in the freezer...mostly because I've failed to label them and have to figure out what it is after it's thawed. Still, I love a challenge!

Funny about Money said...

Well, I understand that in some parts of the country food prices are overall higher because there's less competition. Hereabouts, we have several chains, and they compete with WalMart and Target, so prices tend to be relatively low. So I'm told.

In fact, I actually did leave the Safeway with some merchandise -- a bottle of wine and some yogurt, as I recall. We also have stores that sell bags of onions for three bucks or so. I personally prefer not to buy produce in bags, because I'm picky and dislike it when one or two items in the bag are mildewed or half-spoiled. But in the case of lemons and onions, I'll do it.

A much cheaper ethnic store is right up at the corner near my house. It's a less pleasant venue for shopping -- sketchy neighborhood, stinky smell inside. But you can be sure the onions are a) very good and b) much, much cheaper. By and large their produce is excellent and sure a lot more interesting than anything you'll find in a Safeway. ;-)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley-I know what you mean about the freezer overload. I only have the fridge freezer and I still have too much.

@Funny--Chop and freeze those onions! Really, it's like running out of toothpaste--a disaster.