For this week’s installment, I’d like to introduce you to my sweet friend, Erin. She is guest posting for me this week while we are on vacation. Check out her bio at the bottom of the post and be sure to stop by her blog. You’ll love it there!
This week in Erin’s home . . .
I’d like to show you how freezer cooking has saved our family a lot of money on our grocery bill.
A few things you should know about freezer cooking:
- not everything has to be cooked before it goes into the freezer
- it takes one day of really hard work to produce a month’s worth of meals
- you can not shop and cook on the same day without killing your back
- everything can go from the freezer straight to your crockpot
- even a small freezer will hold 30 meals if you freeze them flat
You can do this alone, easily, but if you have a friend to do it with, you’ll save even more money and have a lot more fun. I get together with my sister in law once a month. The kids get a play date, and we get a day to laugh, share concerns, and offer each other encouragement while making our lives easier. We also get slave labor as the kids invariably want to help peel, chop, and stir.
How we organize it all is as follows:
We decide a few days ahead of time which recipes to use.
Our go-to book is this one, because it bases its recipes on Costco-sized portions, and we have big eaters and three kids apiece. You can use any freezer book you have on hand, or grab a new one from the library. For a month’s worth of meals, you need at least 7 recipes so that you have some variety. We take note of how much of each ingredient per recipe we’ll need, and then triple it for the grocery list. This does take some time, but if you make a quick Excel spreadsheet and set it to triple everything automatically, you can just print and go.
We also take a quick look at the week’s flyers when deciding on recipes so that we can take advantage of great meat sales, or a killer price on peppers out of season. Make sure that you include enough Ziploc bags on your list, because you don’t want to run out halfway through bagging everything up on Big Cooking Day! Hit the store, fill your cart, and head home.
We alternate shopping trips and then divide the final bill in half. Last time, each family’s total share for 30 meals was an astounding $180!
On Big Cooking Day, make sure you wear supportive shoes. I forgot once and wore slippers and my back and legs the next day felt like I had climbed 20 flights of stairs.
Ok, it’s time to cook. Start any recipes that require cooking time (browning beef, sautéing chicken, the amazing granola that needs to be cooked in batches). While they’re cooking, do the quick and easy recipes such as the whole chickens that go straight into the bag with their marinade, or the pork tenderloin (ditto). Stuff them into the freezer and start chopping your veggies for everything else. Keep moving along, bagging as you finish prepping each recipe, until you’re done.
It takes us an average of 6 hours’ dedicated prep time to make 30 meals apiece. It’s a long, tiring day! BUT, for the rest of the month, all you have to do is open your freezer, empty a bag into the crockpot, and wait for supper. You also only need to think of breakfast, really, because these meals will leave leftovers for lunch for most families the next day. At most, you might have to add some rice or a salad. Our food bill for the month, thanks to freezer cooking, is about $400 for 5 people and two large dogs.
You can’t beat freezer cooking for time and money savings!
Erin is an overcaffienated, underslept mother of three and a cooking enthusiast. You can find her at her blog, The Usual Mayhem, showing the good, the bad, and the messy of life, kids, and homeschooling. If she isn’t at her blog, she’s probably either Pinning ideas she has no time to try, or hiding from the kids and drinking coffee.
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