Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Freezer Cooking Saves Lives

Last Friday was my first try with freezer cooking.  

Here's what I did:

First, I browsed Once A Month Mom for about three days to get my recipes.  They have this awesome feature where you can save recipes and add them to a meal planner calendar and then to a grocery list, etc.  It made it super easy!  I also liked that you can browse recipes by category, such as crockpot, casserole, diet, etc.  And there are monthly menus in multiple categories that you can also browse through.  I found a whole bunch of recipes that suited us, printed them all out, and  chose the ones I wanted to make for the next two weeks.

Then I figured out what I already had and what I needed and I made a grocery list.  I am only making and freezing dinners, but my grocery list and shopping also included everything we need for breakfast and lunches for two weeks.  The middle picture on the right above is the result of my shopping!  Our budget is $100/week for groceries, and I spent $176 for two weeks worth of food.  I was happy with the amount I spent, but I do think I could trim our budget, and that's my goal for next time I do this.

Before I went shopping, I completely cleaned out our fridge and freezer.  The top left is our freezer prior to starting cooking - almost completely empty!  And the bottom left is after I filled it with yummy food!

When I got home from the store, I unpacked everything, taped my recipes to the cupboards, and got started.  I got spaghetti squash and chicken in the oven and got ground beef and turkey sausage going on the stove top in my two big skillets.  While the meat was cooking, I chopped up a bunches of onion and peppers.  As things finished, I took them off the stove to cool or separated them out into bowls to mix in with something else later.  

I didn't have too much trouble keeping up with everything (Liam was an angel entertaining himself on his playmat and watching me while I cooked).  As I got each thing cooled and put together, I wrapped it in foil and plastic wrap, labeled with the name, date, and cooking instructions, and then put it in the freezer.  

Here's what I made:
Chicken Pierogie Casserole (this one was for my husband who loves pierogies)
Honey Burbon Chicken (for the crockpot)
Taco Soup (for the crockpot)
Semi-Homemade Meat Sauce (my own creation)
Stuffed Peppers (a recipe that I kind of made up as I went- I plan to write it up later)

I definitely think that this will be enough for us for two weeks.  I planned for leftovers two nights a week so that we don't waste so much food (I'm constantly throwing out leftovers), and we usually have a date night dinner out at least once every two weeks.
This was easy enough, and I felt great going into this week knowing that I don't have to worry about dinners at all!!  So far, it is so worth the time and effort!