This post was sponsored by the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. You get to learn about affordable ways to prepare food. I get a few extra bucks in the Royal coffers. The post and opinions are 100% mine. No editing was done by anyone. I’m sure you could find some grammatical errors if you read it again. Read more on my disclosure policy.
Let’s talk turkey, friends. Fixing dinner every single night gets old. We know it’s one of the best ways to save money. We know we usually eat more healthfully, too. But the dishes, the laundry, the practice, the work, the meetings, the homework, the Cheerios scattered all over the floor every. single. day.? Seriously I wonder if these people have some motor skill issues when it comes to lifting a spoon to their mouths. It all gets overwhelming. Before you know it, it’s 5:30 PM, the sink is full of dirty dishes and you have hungry people but no real plan in mind for dinner.
This is precisely why I love having a handful of full meals and/or batch items in my freezer on a regular basis. Basically, it gives my brain a break and allows me to toss a nutritious and cost effective meal in the oven while I tend to the 952 other items on my to do list. Bonus points for not having to hit the drive through, too!
But there are right ways and wrong ways to approach freezer cooking. If you’re going to spend time and money working ahead, you need to keep these Freezer Meal Day strategies in mind for success.
1. Block Off Plenty of Time
Every time, I’ve hosted a day of preparing freezer meals in my home or taken on the task myself, it’s taken about two more hours than I’ve anticipated. Typically this means I end up having to leave things half done and go to pick up children from somewhere or my entire kitchen is completely demolished. Block off plenty of time and then add an hour. If you finish early, kudos you can finally do something for yourself.
2. Choose Tried and True Recipes
Freezer meals are not the best platform to roll out new and exotic meals for your family. If they don’t like onions before, they’re not going to fall in love with them all of the sudden just because you tried out a new Pinterest recipe. Freezer meals are for tried and true, family favorites. After all, you’re doing this to save time. Taking on a fancy recipe with ingredients no one in your family likes means you’ll consume an entire 9×13 pan and then STILL have to fix dinner for everyone else.
3. Gather Friends to Divide and Conquer
Work feels less grueling in the midst of good company. The best freezer meal days I’ve planned have been ones where I’m preparing dishes in community. The hours slip away in a bit of shared time and everyone shoulders a bit of the cost and responsibility. Whether you divide the grocery list in advance and everyone brings an assortment of items to share or you take on one dish per family and provide the supplies to make multiple meals of the same recipe, you need some sort of organizational strategy. Set up a Facebook group or email list to help manage the details. Ask your friend with the largest kitchen to host the day’s event or see if you can rent or borrow space at a church or a local community center.
4. Buy Supplies Well in Advance
Get your grocery list put together at least a week in advance and head to the store. You’ll probably forget something and need to run out again before Freezer Meal Day Palooza commences. Don’t forget freezer essentials like gallon sized freezer bags (perfect for freezing soups and laying them flat), aluminum foil, and if you’re keeping things simple, disposable pans. Want to save a few more dollars? Opt for reusable containers. Just be sure to take inventory a week or so in advance, too. You may need to track down that pan from a friend or family member.
5. Prepare the Area
As much as you can, clear your counter, kitchen table, and any other space you might need to chop, brown, or assemble. It’s likely that every square inch will be covered at some point. Start with an empty sink. Sterilize surfaces. Pull out your cutting boards, kitchen scissors, non-stick spray, and other necessary items. Don’t forget to clean out your freezer, too! Dump the two year old popsicles and those old hot dog buns you never used at the last cookout. Check expiration dates. Make room for your delicious dishes.
6. Think Small
Cooking en masse can definitely save you big money. Buying bulk allows you to purchase meats at prices much lower prices. However, you don’t have to make every freezer meal sized to feed 15 people (unless you have 15 people in your family and then you definitely should). Unless your family is large or just LOVES leftovers, you may think about preparing meals in 8×8 pans instead of the 9×13 size. You’ll probably be able to stretch things just a little bit further.
7. Make Less Than a Meal
While an entire meal is awesome, you may also benefit from making side dishes, individual breakfast items, bags of chopped fruit for smoothies, or prepared meats. These simple life savers show up at just the right time. I love to brown ground turkey and freeze it to through into chili or on nachos at the last minute. Often, I’ll grill an entire bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Then I’ll chop them into bite sized pieces and freeze them in plastic freezer bags. They’re great to add to salads, sandwiches, or tacos. Freezer Meal Day doesn’t have to equal casseroles for days. You have more options than you know!
Have a favorite freezer meal recipe? I’d love for you to leave it in the comments! Don’t forget to check out my ALDI $50 Freezer Meal Plan, too!
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
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