Fill the freezer with premade meals in order to save money on groceries as well as time and effort throughout the month.
I’ve been cooking like a madwoman this week. Well, Monday and Tuesday, anyway. Last month during the Pantry Challenge, I emptied much of our reserve food storage. The deep freeze was emptied and defrosted. It sat unplugged for a few weeks while we ate from the kitchen side-by-side. Then it was time to get back to freezer cooking.
Having a freezer full of ready-to-go meals not only makes me feel more comfortable — we have food, we will be fine come what may — but it also helps us save money.
If there’s something easy for the kids to prepare, I’ll be less tempted to buy costly convenience food items.
If there’s something quick to prepare, I’ll be less likely to make a run for the border.
If there’s something yummy to eat, I’ll be less likely to want to go out to a restaurant.
When I’ve got easy, quick, healthy, and yummy recipes all prepared in the freezer, well, that’s like striking gold! We eat more healthfully; we spend less on groceries; and we stick to eating at home. Total win.
Freezer Meal Recipes
Earlier this week, I shared my freezer cooking plan, or at least the recipe list, over on Good Cheap Eats. Here’s what I ended up making:
- Meatballs (3 dinners)
- Seasoned Taco Meat (4 dinners)
- Hamburger Patties (3 dinners)
- Pulled Chicken (3 dinners)
- Grilled Chicken (2 dinners)
- Marinated Chicken (2 dinners)
- Seasoned Pinto Beans (4 dinners)
- Red Sauce (4 dinners)
- Burritos (20 burritos)
- Lasagna (2 dinners)
- Enchiladas (3 dinners)
- Granola (2 batches)
I didn’t get to the baking, but that’s something I can delegate to the kids next week. I did get to try out the new FoodSaver machine. I am smitten. You can see why and enter for a chance to win one over on Good Cheap Eats.
If you’d like to make the above, print out the recipes that are linked above. Here’s the groceries that you’ll need:
The amounts are approximate. Check each recipe and compare its ingredients list to what you already have at home. You can click the print button at the bottom of this post, if you’d like to print the list. Double check my math! It’s been one of those weeks. Let’s say that this cooking plan is in beta. 😉 I’ll count on your graciously pointing out what I forgot.
- 15 pounds ground beef
- 10 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 5 pounds dried pinto beans
- 10 cups chopped onion
- 2 heads garlic
- 3 dozen corn tortillas
- 5 pounds cheddar cheese
- 20 flour tortillas
- bread crumbs
- olive oil
- sunflower oil
- enchilada sauce
- tomato sauce
- #10 can crushed tomatoes
- lasagna noodles
- 6 eggs
- cream cheese
- chicken broth
- ingredients for your favorite chicken marinades
- crushed red pepper
- dried parsley
- dried basil
- kosher salt
- garlic powder
- onion flakes
- chili powder
- black pepper
- bay leaf
- onion powder
- celery seeds
- cayenne pepper
Here’s the method I followed:
- shred cheese
- chop onions and garlic
1. Sort the beans and rinse. Soak according to package directions. I soaked them in the evening and let them cook overnight. The next day, I divided the mixture into freezer-safe containers. Cooled the beans to room temperature, and chilled in the fridge before freezing.
2. Cook four pounds ground beef. Season with taco seasoning mix. Portion into meal-sized containers. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the fridge before freezing.
3. Form four pounds of ground beef into hamburger patties. (We like quarter-pounders.) Wrap, label, and freeze.
4. Start the red sauce on the stovetop. After it cooks for an hour, divide the sauce into meal-sized portions, cool, label, and chill in the fridge before freezing.
5. Make a bulk batch of meatballs (4 pounds) and get them started in the oven. Set the timer. When it rings, pull them out and allow them to cool to room temperature. Divide into meal-sized portions, label, and chill in the fridge before freezing.
6. Poach three pounds chicken. When done, shred, season, and allow the chicken to cool to room temperature. Divide into meal-sized portions, label, and chill in the fridge before freezing.
7. Prepare the marinated chicken in ziptop freezer bags. Freeze.
8. Season the chicken for grilling with a spice rub, like this one. Grill the chicken. Cool to room temperature. Divide into meal-sized portions, label, and chill in the fridge before freezing.
9. Prepare the granola. Set the timer. When it’s done, let the granola cool completely before packaging.
10. Cook the last three pounds of ground beef. Use it for the lasagnas and for burrito filling.
11. Assemble the lasagnas. Chill before freezing.
12. Assemble the burritos. Chill before freezing.
13. Assemble the enchiladas. Chill before freezing.
14. Put your feet up and order in.
Time: two afternoons, so realistically, one FULL day
Money: I spent about $300 for the ingredients to make about 30 meals to feed 8 people
Having meals ready does cost me something up front: time, money, and mental energy. But, it pays off in the long run. Not only did I spend time prepping homecooked meals, but I also stocked up on some of favorite freezer items, like gelato (on sale for $2.49!), potstickers, pepperoni, and pizza cheese.
I feel like I’m ready for whatever may come, be it school, cookbook deadlines, or just a dull day when I don’t feel like cooking.
Freezer cooking helps us save money, but it also helps our quality of life.
This is Frugal Friday. In an effort to make these weekly financial discussions more interactive, I’m no longer posting a link-up. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. But better yet, chat with us on today’s topic.
Do YOU fill the freezer with freezer meals?
Let us know in the comments.