Freezer meals, also called “once a month” cooking can save a tremendous amount of time, stress, and especially, money.
I have been making freezer meals for our family for over three years now. It has saved me thousands of dollars, not to mention the amount of brain space it has freed up not to have to worry about what I am going to make for supper every day. By spending one or two days cooking, I am able to have enough meals to feed our family for between one and three months! That is what I call a good use of my time!
In the first article in this series, I outlined Steps 1 – 4, including important money-saving information about planning your freezer meals. In this second article in the series, I will be outlining what steps to follow the day before the big day of meal assembly.
Buy the groceries and containers needed. For most of my freezer meals, I use large freezer bags, but some recipes such as lasagna need a foil tray. Make note of this when you are making your grocery lists and buy as many bags and containers as you will need. For additional savings, cleaned out yogurt containers and the like can also be used if well sealed. I like to do my shopping at the warehouse store first. That way, if there were any ingredients on that list that they did not have in stock, I can purchase them at the local grocery store. In my community, the first Tuesday of the month you get 15% off your entire grocery bill. This is a huge savings. Remember, I have already called ahead with my meat order so I also get 15% off that, plus whatever additional discount on the meat I was able to negotiate over the phone.
Label your bags and containers. Using a permanent marker, write the name of the dish and the cooking instructions on the bags and containers that you will be using. By doing this before the cooking day, you will be able to save a lot of time and confusion the day of your assembly. Some people prefer to print up labels on their computer. Some people also like to add the date so that they will know when the meals were made. Alternately, you can print up a list and post it inside your freezer.
Fry up the ground beef or imitation ground beef, chop up the onions and other vegetable you will be using, and cube any chicken that needs to be cubed.
Set up your stations. Set up stations around your kitchen or workspace (for those who have a small kitchen, perhaps a dining room table can also be used). If you are doing this in a large group, you may wish to use a community or church kitchen. At each station, place the photocopied recipe, non-perishable ingredients that you will need, spices called for, the labelled freezer bags or containers, and any equipment you will need such as mixing bowls, can openers, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing spoons.
Get some sleep. The big day is coming and you will need your rest!
Next week, I will explain what to do on the actual day of making the freezer meals.