First, before I get into this week’s challenge, I have to tell you about my great shopping trip on Monday. And, yes, I do feel like I’ve graduated to some level of couponing madness since I took a picture of all of my groceries after getting home from the store. What can I say? I was proud. I saved 47%, using over $30 worth of coupons and over $60 worth of sale savings. Plus, I went home with a $10 certificate for a free giftcard from the Safeway giftcard mall, which technically pushes my savings over the 50% mark. In other words, I saved more than I spent on a shopping cart full of food. Not only that, but the milk and the bananas were the only 2 items not on sale.
I am a deal seeker. Always have been. But yesterday, I worked for these deals. I did my research, I did my planning, and it payed off! This couponing thing is getting to be easier for me!
And now on to this week’s challenge…..
Make an extra meal and freeze it to use when you don’t feel like cooking or are short on time.
This is actually a concept that I have used before (I’ve even taught a class about this before!) so I do know a thing or two about freezer meals.
There are several ways to tackle freezer meals, but the concept is the same: Prepare your food when you have the time so that you will have the food ready when you don’t have the time. Brilliant, isn’t it?
Here are a few of the methods that I have used:
• Spend an entire day cooking a bunch of meals. Years ago, a friend of mine gave me the book Dinner is Ready – 30 Meals in One Day and I took the challenge. It takes a lot of preparation and a big chunk of time, but I cannot express the thrill of having a month’s worth of meals made in one day. It’s worth it! I would recommend getting a book, though, since there really is a method that needs to be followed.
• Prepare a double recipe when you cook dinner. Eat half, and freeze half for later. This is probably an easier way to build up a stock of freezer meals. You just won’t have all the meals ready at once. Sometimes this is a good thing if your freezer space is limited. I’m lucky and have a full size deep freezer (the old kind that has to be defrosted
• Get together with a group of friends and have a mega cooking day swap! Clair actually wrote a guest post on my blog about Meals Swaps a while back. Go check it out!
• Buy meat in bulk, cook it as soon as you bring it into the kitchen, and freeze it, cooked, for use in future meals. This is a mini-step, but can be a real time-saver. You can also do this with things like onions, peppers, fruits, and other things that are only available seasonally.
In fact, yesterday, I cooked up a family pack of ground beef, added some taco seasoning and onions and froze the meat for use in tacos later. And then, last night before going to bed, I stuck a whole chicken in my crock pot so that it would cook over night. Today, I am going to use that chicken in a few recipes (much cheaper and yummier than cooking single boneless, skinless breasts for a recipe).
Have you ever tried cooking ahead and freezing meals? What methods work best for you?
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