Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Freezer Cooking

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This past Monday, my mom and I embarked on our first journey of freezer cooking. This is something that is all over Pinterest. In fact, I have created a board dedicated to freezer cooking and crockpot recipes in anticipation of doing it myself (Check it out here). We talked about doing a day of cooking and we planned out the meals we wanted to use. I moved forward by making a grocery list and we both scratched off the items we already had. My mom went shopping first at ShopRite and got a lot of the list. I was left to purchase all of the meat, some produce, and a couple other items. All in all, we spent about $200 and we got 51 meals, including 11 breakfast burritos. Now, if you figure that each "meal" has at least 3.5 servings, that means we spent about $1.35 per serving (40 meals*3.5 servings + 11 burritos=151 servings. $205/151=$1.35). Not too shabby!

The list of recipes we used, including the links to the blogs I got them from:
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Fried Rice
White Bean Chicken Chili
Chicken Fajitas
Manicotti
Beef Stew
Crockpot Seafood Paella
Sloppy Joes
Breakfast Burritos

Ways that we cut back on cost:
1. Shop sales
2. Buy generic
3. Shop at grocery outlets and places like Aldi or Save-a-Lot
4. Stock up on things when on sale (things like canned goods, frozen veggies, etc.)
5. Add more veggies into dishes as a "filler" but also as a healthy alternative. It stretches the meal and the amount of servings per meal"

Things to do differently next time:

When I made the grocery list, I lumped items together- for example, we had 4 chicken recipes so I totaled up the quantity of chicken, and that's what I bought. This time around, for the most part, we cooked/prepped each recipe individually. While this was fine for our first time, I think we could streamline the process. The next time, I am going to also made a list of totals of each type of ingredient. That way, if we prep all the food at once, then all we have to do is measure out and bag up each recipe.  For example, we needed 23 chicken breasts. But, only about 11 of them needed to be cooked ahead of time. And about 9 of the cooked chicken needed to be shredded. If I made a list of final prep work, like 9 chicken breasts, shredded, 2 chicken breasts, cooked, etc., then we could do all of the prep and cooking and then just scoop out of the bowls and dump into the bags. Same thing with the veggies. We cut up the peppers as we needed them, which was sporadic. I figure that way takes more time because then you figure you are cleaning the knife, cutting board and cleaning up more times, whereas if we had done it all at once, then you are only doing the work once. (Hope that makes sense!).

I am excited to incorporate our freezer cooking into our monthly meal plan. I look forward to seeing the savings in our grocery budget, in the amount of time planning and cooking, especially on those busy nights away from home. I think it will get easier and easier, and eventually, we could have a system down and be pretty efficient at it! I also think that this is a great skills and resource to have, especially in the future when I become pregnant and don't feel like cooking (fingers crossed!), although Hubby has never complained about cooking before!

What is your experience with freezer cooking?

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