It’s been quite a while since I posted a ‘frugal Friday’ tip. In fact, the last one, shredded chicken, was nearly a year ago! Frugal is pretty well a way of life for us, but not everything lends itself to a blog post. Over the past weekend, however, I worked on a project in the kitchen that I couldn’t resist sharing with you. Frozen mashed potatoes!
Fall is the best time of year to score potatoes on the cheap. It will happen again around the holidays, too. Keep your eyes open for these deals and once you score ’em, put all the savings to the best use!
This happened for me last weekend. The grocery store just down the street had 10 pound bags of russet potatoes on sale for .99. That’s right! A penny less than one dollar for TEN POUNDS! I mean, seriously, who can pass that up?? The only person I can think of is the person who ponders what they will ever do with 10 pounds of potatoes before the potatoes go bad. I feel you. Ten pounds is a lot…but there are ways to make those super cheap potatoes work for you.
So, let’s talk about one of my <many> favorite ways to make the most of a killer deal like this: frozen mashed potatoes!
I was skeptical about how freezing mashed potatoes would ultimately work out. I’m not even all that thrilled with day old mashed potatoes out of the fridge (though, with the right amount of gravy, compliments of my grandmother, I definitely make it work). Figuring I didn’t have a lot to lose (potatoes scored on the cheap) I decided to take a run at it. Boy am I glad I did!
Now that I know it’s worth the effort, I’ve refined the process putting some of my favorite kitchen equipment (Crockpots and KitchenAid Stand Mixer) to use!
Frozen Mashed Potatoes: Equipment & Ingredients Needed
- Crockpot (I actually used two this past weekend)
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Storage Containers – plastic containers or zip-top bags
Note: if you don’t have a crockpot (or two) good ol’ large pots of water on the stove will do just fine. And if you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer or potato masher works, too! I used these things because I have them on hand and it made the process a breeze!
Frozen Mashed Potatoes: Instructions
- Peel, rinse and cut potatoes into 1″ pieces (larger or smaller is fine, just be sure they’re all roughly the same size)
- Add potatoes to crockpot and fill with water
- Turn on crockpot to low and cook for about 4-5 hours
- When potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, drain water
- In batches, add potatoes, butter and milk to the mixer and let the mashing begin (mash, adding milk a little at a time, until desired consistency – some folks like lumps, others like ’em smooth – the choice is totally yours)
- Once mashed, transfer to freezer safe containers, label and tuck away in the freezer for another time
- Repeat process until all potatoes are mashed
Re-Heating Frozen Mashed Potatoes
This is the most important piece. The piece I was skeptical about regarding this whole frozen mashed potatoes idea. Here’s how to bring those previously frozen mashed potatoes back to life:
- Thaw a batch of frozen mashed potatoes, then add to a sauce pan on the stove, over medium heat.
- Add any/all of the following (but be sure to add something – this re-introduces the creaminess factor to the taters):
additional milk or cream
salt and pepper
I cannot tell you how many nights having frozen mashed potatoes on hand has saved my bacon when it came time to put dinner on the table. Since most of the work (and mess) has already been done, these go from stove to plate in little time. Plus, mashed potatoes are a delicious compliment to grilled or baked meats. Don’t even get me started on topping them with a batch of homemade creamy chicken soup! Yum!!
Wanna know more about the equipment I used? Maybe you’re curious as to the reason I own two crockpots?
Okay, so, regarding the crockpots. I own this Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry, which is super handy when you cook something that will need to be transported (think: potluck gatherings). The lid has a seal and also clamps down which reduces risk of a mess all over the back seat of your car. It’s also a beautiful shade of red. You wouldn’t even believe the compliments I’ve gotten on my “beautiful crockpot”.
I also own this Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable unit. I added this to our wedding gift registry because I wanted one that would switch over automatically to warm when the cooking cycle was done. This is a wonderful feature for those times when you load up the crockpot and expect to come home (8+ hrs later) to a nice warm meal…and the house smelling so delicious you almost can’t handle it…but you also don’t want the food to be over-done and dried out!
Having two crockpots on hand is a little ridiculous, and now you can get one that is both a cook & carry as well as programmable. Honestly, I don’t put both to use at the same time very often. But the times I’ve needed to, having both has made life just a touch easier.
Finally, the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Also a gift, from my wedding shower. Admittedly, they are a spendy item. I also wasn’t sure how much use I would really get out of it, so receiving as a gift allowed me this indulgence. The truth is, I use it. A LOT!
All in all, I think I probably spent just over an hour (including clean-up) on this project. The final result? Five containers of mashed potatoes for the freezer plus a side dish for the baked chicken I prepared for dinner that night.
Now, THAT’S how you stretch a dollar!
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