Using Freezer Cooking As A Way To Reduce Your Grocery Budget

Frozen Food

This is a guest post by Melissa, a stay at home mom to three little ones. She blogs at Mom's Plans where she shares how she and her family are learning to live a fulfilling life on less. She also shares her adventures in freezer cooking on a monthly basis.

When I had my second child two years ago, my husband and I got serious about finding ways to save money. We realized our budget had a huge leak in the food category. Because we were busy with a newborn and a four year old, we did not always plan our dinners. As a result, we often picked up food or ate expensive precooked freezer foods from the grocery store. Our lack of planning was costing us several hundred dollars a month.

I had heard about freezer cooking as a method to save money and time, but I thought the whole idea sounded like pure torture. Who wants to spend an entire day cooking ALL day, and then, when you are wiped out, spend the evening cleaning up the mess? No thanks, not for me.

My husband didn’t want to do it either because he was worried the food wouldn’t taste fresh. Neither one of us wanted to eat endless casseroles (which is what we both thought of with freezer cooking).

The Freezer Cooking Turn Around

You may be surprised to find out that now, two years and one more child later, I LOVE freezer cooking. In fact, I can’t imagine that we ever did without it. Everything I heard about it was true. We save a bundle of money every month. Our days are even busier now that we have three children and my oldest is in first grade and involved in three extracurricular activities. However, we rarely rely on take out; instead, we just pull a home cooked meal from the freezer.

What about taste? Well, as long as I pick recipes designed to be used as freezer meals, they come out great. And while I did freeze some casseroles in the early days of my freezer cooking, we don’t any more. Within the last year we discovered that neither my daughter nor I can eat dairy, and there aren’t many casseroles without dairy. However, we still find plenty of tasty things to freeze such as homemade meatballs, meatloaf, soups and stews, muffins, pancakes, breakfast burritos, etc.

Getting Started With Freezer Cooking

I am not going to lie. Cooking all of your meals in one day is not fun. If the whole idea overwhelms you, start out slowly. Find a recipe you like and cook it for dinner. When you are cooking, double the recipe and put one serving in the freezer. Tomorrow night, do the same thing. Do that for a week, and you will have a week’s worth of meals ready and waiting in the freezer for those hectic nights.

If you want to invest a little more time, take an afternoon to make a big batch of something versatile. We make meatballs almost every month. We use them for spaghetti and meatballs, sweet and sour meatball stir fry with red peppers and rice, BBQ meatball subs. Take maybe 1.5 hours and cook up a big batch of them. You now have the core ingredient for several meals during the month.

There really is no investment for freezer cooking beyond buying freezer bags for storage. My favourite free resource is Food.com. Simply enter the term “OAMC” (once a month cooking) and over 600 recipes will appear. Some are as simple as “dump chicken” where you dump raw chicken in a freezer bag with your sauce of choice. On the day you plan to cook it, put it still frozen in a baking pan and bake. About an hour later, you have a tasty main course.

Don’t be intimidated by freezer cooking. It can be as easy or as hard as you make it. If you just simply double your recipes when you are cooking your dinner, you will have a stocked freezer and more money in the bank, before you know it.

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Comments

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter's picture

Like Melissa, we have been freezer cooking for quite a while and it really isn't that scary. With both of us working full time and wanting to eat healthy and save money, doing up meals ahead of time works out really well for us. Plus if you all of the sudden need to entertain on a whim, you have something ready to go. It really is a great way to reduce stress.

May 30, 2011 @ 12:26 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

That's good to know Miss T. Personally we tend to mass cook for 2-3 days of meals all at once and then eat the same thing for 2 or 3 days for lunch and dinner. Some people can't stomach doing that type of thing but it works pretty well for us and does free up some extra time in the process.

May 30, 2011 @ 1:36 pm
common sense money's picture

Great ideas. There are so many ways to cut back on expenses. People often have much more disposable income than they realize.

May 30, 2011 @ 3:20 pm
youngandthrifty's picture

You must have read my mind, because I've recently begun to freezer cook myself!

I've made some spaghetti, chili, some chickpea curry (not even sure if chickpeas can be frozen, but what the heck).

I like that I have food "in a pinch" if I feel too lazy to cook.

I can't do the 2-3 days of lunch and dinner straight through, but I can do the same meal 2-3 times a week though.

May 31, 2011 @ 3:22 am
mrs january's picture

I don't "feezer cook" that often because I don't like the taste of re-heated food, however, I do do this for certain things:
- tomato sauce, chopped fruit, chopped veggies.

I will also freeze some meals for my husband, because he doesn't mind them.

June 01, 2011 @ 7:31 am
Eddie's picture

I don't mind freezer cooking at all. Frozen veggies are the way to go and always look for them on sale in the flyers. Some things are not meant for freezer cooking though.

June 23, 2011 @ 7:52 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

I agree Eddie - I like frozen vegetables as well. I'm not sure that really classifies as freezer cooking though because you typically buy them already frozen. I wish that we did more freezer cooking in our house because I know it would save us money on those nights where nothing gets cooked and we end up eating expensive take out or eating junk food instead.

June 23, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

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