Friday, May 16, 2014

Frugal Friday III: DIY Frozen Hashed Browns

Welcome back to my Frugal Friday Series!

The last two posts have been about saving money in the laundry room. Today, we're moving into the kitchen!

Potatoes. Who doesn't love 'em?

We certainly do. And, we go through quite a bit of them in our house.

Like most families, we eat them baked, mashed or hashed. For baking and mashing, we stick to the 10lb bag from WinCo. At $2.50, it's a great way to help our (or any!) grocery budget stretch.

But, for hashed, I have to head over to the frozen foods section and buy a bag.

Recently, when we started pinching pennies, I started looking for out of the box ways to save more money each month.

As I was going through over the grocery list one day, I came to the hashed browns and wondered...could I make them for cheaper?!

Here's the result:

A 32oz bag of generic hashed browns is $2 at Walmart. I totally spaced on price checking it at WinCo, but I'm positive it's at or just below the same price.

I did 5lbs of potatoes for this post and got 2 gallon sized freezer bags 3/4 of the way full. Not too bad!

After comparing the bag at Walmart to what I made at home, they were a bit light.  If I fill the freezer bag full next time, I should be able to get 3 comparable bags from the 10lbs making them $0.83 each!

We use a bag of hashed browns once a week, so at full price we spend $104 on frozen potatoes a year. (yikes!)

If I were to make my own, It would only cost $43.16. That's a savings of $60!

Well worth the effort.

Here's the DIY on making your own frozen hashed browns!

What you'll need:

**10lbs of potatoes.  Just regular ol' Idaho grown (sorry, CA, Idaho makes 'em better!) Russet taters.
**vegetable peeler
**hand grater or food processor. I used a food processor.
**roll of paper towels
**parchment paper
**cookie sheets
**2 large bowls

I read several posts from various blogs and cooking sites on how to make these. Each post had a totally different method. I chose the one that seemed to take the least amount of time. You can read the original post here

Fill 2 large bowls with cold water and set aside. Peel your potatoes placing them directly into the water as soon as they are peeled.

The original post suggested doing these in small batches and I ignored it. I am an idiot. These oxidize remarkably fast, it was a bit difficult to avoid the discoloring. I highly recommend dividing the bag of potatoes into 3 and doing each pile at a time.

After they've been peeled, they need to be shredded with a hand grater or a food processor.

Woops! I completely forgot to take a photo of this step! My bad...

If you have a hand grater, shred them directly into the other bowl of water, otherwise quickly remove the potatoes from the food processor and put into the water after every couple of potatoes.

The starch will turn the water white. It's normal, so don't freak out.

Once they are shredded, they need to be washed. Pour the water from the bowl then run fresh tap water over the shredded potatoes while swishing the potatoes with your hand. Drain the water and repeat 'till the water is clear. It took me about 4 or 5 times to get all of the starch out.

Like an idiot, I attempted to do too many potatoes at once and they started to oxidize faster than I could get them out of the food processor and into the water! I actually had to stop halfway through to wash what was shred, then did it all over again for the rest of the potatoes.

Once the water was clear, I put the potatoes into this strainer and pressed as much water out as possible, then placed them back into the bowl. Dry bowl, of course. lol
Take the paper towels over to the table & lay out a layer or two and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Grab a hand full of the potatoes, squeeze out as much water as you can and lay them on the paper towels.

Once they are laid out, QUICKLY roll them up to get out the extra moisture.

Start at one end of the paper towel and roll up like a burrito.

Once you have them all rolled up, they are ready to freeze! Simply lay them out into a thin layer on the lined cookie sheets and place on an empty shelf in the freezer. They should only take an hour or two to freeze. After that, you can put them into a gallon sized freezer bag and store them 'till it's time to fry 'em up!

The entire process took me less than 30 minutes!

Next time, I'll remember to do smaller batches. Even if I split the bag up into 3, it would still only take about 45 mins to an hour from dirty sack of potatoes to freezer.

Taking the time to cut cost in small areas like this may not seem worth it, but the $60 I save by making my own potatoes covers the cost of two piano lessons! Over time, little things really do add up!

If you're like me and searching for ways to make that dollar stretch, don't be afraid to think outside the box and roll up your sleeves.

You'll be glad you did!

Come back next week for an almost effortless way to save even more!

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