I finally decided to try out a cook-all-day-and-freeze meal plan, and I'm super excited about it! When I open my freezer, I hear angels singing!
Several people asked about how I did it and if I saved money, so I thought I'd go through the whole process.
The blog post I found is called Make 50 Freezer Meals in One Day; I chose 6 of the recipes she listed and got 16 meals...50 sounded a little overwhelming to try for my first time! All 16 meals took about 4 hours to prepare (however, my two beautiful, energetic, destructive, needy boys were present, so I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have taken that long if they were perhaps at daycare...next time!)
I picked the following recipes (the numbers in parentheses are how many meals I got by either doubling or tripling the recipes):
Slow Cooker Broccoli Chicken Alfredo (3)
Chicken Parmesan Pesto Shells (3)
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew (3)
Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos (2)
Pulled BBQ Pork (2)
The first thing I did when I got home from the store (after putting away the groceries and beginning with a clean kitchen) was put the pork shoulder in the crock pot...I cooked 3ish pounds on low for about 6.5 hours...then Josh and I got to work on everything else. The slow cooker meals were a breeze to put together (we tried the beef and barley stew tonight and it was really good! I made some Jiffy muffins to go with it). The rest took a little more effort, but none were too taxing. When the pork was finished cooking, I shredded it, added BBQ sauce, and portioned it into two bags.
The following morning I made about 15 breakfast burritos to freeze. I cooked 1 lb. of breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean Natural), 2 lbs. frozen southern-style hash browns (just diced potatoes basically), 8 scrambled eggs, and some shredded cheddar cheese. I assembled my burritos, individually wrapped them in tinfoil, and put them in a freezer bag. I ran out of sausage and eggs, but I have several tortillas and a good amount of hash browns left, so I'm going to make some bacon and some more eggs and make a few more to throw in the freezer :} I haven't reheated one yet, so I'm not sure about microwave time, but a friend (check out her blog, Me and My Soldier Man) recommended wrapping a burrito in a paper towel, heating 1 minute on one side, then 30 seconds on the other.
I spent an estimated $200 on the items for the freezer meals, including foil, freezer bags, and aluminum pans. That comes out to roughly $12 per meal. I bought a few other food items not related to freezer meals, such as cereal and snacks, a few frozen veggies and packages of different rices to use on non-freezer meal nights, so that added approximately $80 to the total. I was going to the store once a week and spending $100-150 on groceries , so I can see the savings already! I figure I'll still go grocery shopping once a week, but only to pick up perishable things like milk, eggs, and fruit, and a few things to add to my meals for that week like hamburger buns and fresh veggies.
I am definitely going to do this next month, too. The time I will save trying to think of what to make for dinner, preparing it, and cleaning up afterward is pretty invaluable! And I had fun in the kitchen with the husband :}
The recipes I used can be found at Happy Money Saver. If you decided to try this, don't forget to take doubling and/or tripling the recipe into consideration when planning out your shopping list...and let me know how it goes, and if you discover any new recipes or food storage tips and tricks :}