A frugal tip

25 January 2018
I know many of you will already be doing this, or at least know about it, but cooking in a saucepan with a steamer on top is a frugal and nutritious way to prepare your daily vegetables.  



I bought this set of three saucepans plus steamer about ten years ago and I use the steamer a few times every week. I put the hard vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, turnips etc., in water in the saucepan to boil, and softer vegetables: spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc., in the steamer on top of the saucepan.  The lid from the largest saucepan in the set fits the steamer.


Put the boiled vegetables on first and cook, with the lid on, for about half their total cook time.  Soft vegetables take less time to cook so add the soft vegetables in the steamer half way through, and with the lid on, finish off the cooking time. 

You're using the same amount of energy to cook two vegetables instead of one. This will save you money and the steamed vegetables will retain slightly more nutrients than boiled vegetables

If you don't have a steamer, don't rush out and buy one. Have a look at what you already have and see if you can make do with that.

Another way to save money when cooking is to bring the vegetables up to the boil, then immediately turn them down to simmer - always with the lid on - it retains the heat in the pot.

Many of the ordinary daily things we do everyday, the money or energy saving things like this, save a very small amount of money that you might think are not worth worrying about.  You have to look at the bigger picture though - look at those savings over an entire year, then they add up and make sense.  You have to make the effort to do those little things every day to make a difference, and soon they'll become second nature to you.  

38 comments

  1. A tip I learnt from friends is to cook carrots in one saucepan then when almost tender - you add broccoli and cook for a further 5minutes. I then drain the water off and add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Tasty and only one saucepan to clean.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I often save the water I've cooked potatoes, carrots or other mild vegetables in and use it in soups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like this idea, will be using this for sure.

      Delete
  3. And save that cooking/steaming water-it's loaded in nutrients. Use to cook rice, make a soup, etc

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Rhonda i steam all my veggies and have done for many years,though my children when they were younger said i steamed them to death,lol,i have learnt not to over steam them now xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another quick tip is to place washed rice in a saucepan and fill with water one knuckle higher than the rice. Put on a lid and bring to the boil. When the pot is boiling turn off and leave. The rice will absorb the water and you end up with lovely non gluggy cooked rice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's great! I think I use too much water when I boil my vegetables. I need to buy a basket for the vegetables, and steam them. I like how you do it double decker style. I make a huge salad every night, which really saves money on electricity. I should probably eat more cooked veggies, like you do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I found that a metal colander, if it fits in your pot, works well as a steamer.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love steamed veggies. Sometimes I use left over water to make soup and to cook rice. Or I let it cool and use to water plants. You are right Rhonda, individual savings can be small, but it all adds up.

    ReplyDelete
  9. One more way to save a little each day is to not use more water than you need, which save on cooking time because less water means it comes to the boil quicker. This is especially true when boiling the jug for your pot of tea. If when you pour your water into the pot there is a lot left over you have used up more gas or electricity than you needed to.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have never thought about reusing the water I use to steam veggies for other things. Thank you all for the great tip.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I actually have stackable pans for the same purpose. I forgot about stacking them to save energy!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have been using a steamer set in this way for almost 40 years and the water from the veg always went into the gravy which we had most nights, that way you were still getting all the nutrients. The only difficulty I have now is scaling back from cooking meat and 3 veg for a family to cooking just for one person. from 1944 Judi

    ReplyDelete
  13. For those wanting to purchase a similar steamer I bet you could pick up one cheaply at your op shop.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great tip Rhonda, I use this when I'm cooking potatoes, to steam the veges on top. They don't always turn out perfect, but they are edible!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I do this, only sometimes with another steamer on top with something like peas in it. I use the water from the bottom pan to either make the gravy for that nights tea or save it for the next days pan of soup. If I'm not making soup the next day I freeze it for when I am. I waste nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello Rhonda

    What a lot of useful information from you all. :-) We (hubby & I) have been "calorie counting" the last few months in order to lose weight (pleased to say it's working a treat). I have been eating broccoli & cauliflower quite a bit and can never get them 'quite right'. They're either hard or boiled to death. :-( I shall try the various methods suggested and hopefully get it right soon.

    Rhonda, I have been reading your blog for quite a while and am amazed and thankful at the information you have acquired and generously pass on to everyone, as well as all your followers.

    All the best to you and Hanno.

    Carol (UK)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I do have a steamer but never use it (never knew how) Many thanks for a great tip! Have a nice day, Noortje

    ReplyDelete
  18. Good tip! I usually roast all my veggies for full flavor. And I have been saving all peels, ends and tops of root veggies in a glass jar in the freezer. When the jar is full I empty it into a pot of water and make a veggie stock for future soups.

    Thanks for all your helpful tips for frugal living!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had totally forgotten my steamer till you mentioned it. Thanks for the reminder and all the extra fabulous suggestions that were made in the comments. It's nice to see all the information available as suggestions.. not preaching. Enjoy reading your blog and appreciate you taking the time to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, I often do something similar but not with steaming. When I cook dried beans I cook them until the beans are beginning to become soft and then add into the same pot large chunks of potatoes to cook along towards the end. It makes two vegetables in one pot and the starch cooking out of the potatoes thickens the liquid that the beans have cooked in. My mother almost always did this and the "gravy" from the beans was wonderful spooned over warm cornbread adding to the dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Terrific new idea. I’ll use it tonight. Gail in VA

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don't have a steamer, however I layer and add veggies according to cooking time and cook all in the same pot. I also use pot dividers for peas for example, as they tend to get lost in all the other veggies! Liz Landsborough

    ReplyDelete
  23. My steamer has 2 steamer baskets (for want of a better word) so I always put water in the saucepan, potatoes in the first basket & other vegies in the second basket, so nothing ends up waterlogged.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great Ideas here from everyone. My problem is that when ever I save either veg peelings or water from boiling veg to make stock I end up with a freezer full to overflowing with things that don't get used. I admit that we are not really soup people, and I find that I prefer concentrated stock paste which uses whole vegetables that are pureed rather than left over bits and pieces. I do have a compost pile out the back but I wonder if anyone has any other ideas. I would love to use up my bits and pieces rather than storing them in the freezer only to discard them when I need room. Noni from Adelaide

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use my vegetable peelings for the chooks or the compost and I never save vegetable water. I cook vegetables almost every day so, like you, I'd have a freezer full of water. I do use water from vegetables to make gravy and sauce but only on the day I cooked the vegetables.

      Delete
  25. I bought a steamer set about 17 years ago with birthday money. i never thought of it in terms of saving money though.
    It's been used most nights of the week ever since. It has two steamers that sit on top of each other. One usually has potato in it, the other all the other veg. I find placing the softer veg right n top in this double stack means it takes longer for the steam to cook them, coupled with chopping the harder veg smaller makes it so the timing is about right.
    I really need a new set though. The pans are fine but many of the handles have broken, they were the harder 'plastic' type ones. I've been on the look out for a decent set for a few years but haven't found one that's just right. Either a smaller diameter or it only has the one steamer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great advice Rhonda. I never used to steam our vegies but one day i decided to try potatoes and they tasted so delicious and they did not need to be salted like they do when you boil them.

    ReplyDelete
  27. As I am reading this .. I have just peeled my veggies for dinner and the potato and carrots are in the saucepan bubbling away, the sweet potato won't take as long so that will go in a bit later, I have the chopped up snake beans ready and waiting in the steamer to go on a bit later, just before the end, I'll add a few peas into the steamer. Not as complicated as it may sound.
    And I have a piece of salmon to pop into a little frying pan. A feast for Australia Day. I may be the only person in Brisbane today who is not eating lamb !

    ReplyDelete
  28. We have a similar steamer to yours and this is the only way we do our vegetables. One pot and we get healthy steamed vegetables for our meals.

    ReplyDelete
  29. When my meat needs simmering or keeping warm until the rest of dinner is finishing cooking, I put the covered frying pan on top of a pot that is cooking vegetables. No need to put the oven on to keep it warm or to keep it on a burner by itself, and it acts as a lid to keep in the heat on the vegetables so they cook faster.

    Thank you for all your sensible, reliable advice. Blessings to you and yours. Holly

    ReplyDelete
  30. We have 2 sets of 3 tiered ones. We use them all the time cos it saves on electricity. Just love ours.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have 2 steamer sets and use at lest one of them every time we have cooked veg, depending on how many are home at the time. I have never been able to find one with 2 steaming tiers though, even my older one has the main pot, one for steaming and then a top pot for keeping gravy/sauces/stews warm or reheating. For a while i used an electric one with 2 steaming tiers but ended up going back to my stove top ones as I prefer them, can't even explain why.....just habit probably :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a great idea, Rhonda. I never thought of doing this with a steamer. I will be keeping an eye out in thrift shops for a set of pans. I suppose a thrift shop and what you all call an op shop is one and the same, right? Out of curiosity --- what does "op" stand for?
    Also I love seeing everyone's comments and ideas!

    Sue M.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love opshops but hadnt even thought of checking there for a steamer set. Off for a shopping trip i think.

      Delete
  33. Great tips from everyone and I never thought to save the water for my plants although I have used leftover liquid for soups and gravy.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have been looking everywhere for a steamer set but just cant find a good one. I may have to suck it up and buy an expensive one, hopefully it will last longer than my current set of pots which lasted less than 5yrs.

    ReplyDelete

DEAR READERS, PLEASE NOTE:
Comments with links or email addresses won't be published. All spam and business advertising will be deleted.

Children read my blog so I always make sure the information here is family-friendly. I don't publish comments containing links or email addresses now because I don't have time to check them.

All comments in English, please. Thank you.