Saving Money and Time by Freezer Cooking!

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In our household, we run very busy lives. Between our normal day jobs (which sometimes involve night work for both of us), our own businesses at home, and daily life (including trying to hit the gym 3 times a week), we’re rarely free to make dinner in the evenings. If I get home from work at 6 (which is early, if I go to the grocery store or gym, it’s around 8 when I’m getting home), by the time I work on orders Etsy and/or eBay, it’s too late to even make a dinner. We both love to cook and we have some amazing cookware thanks to my great thrifting and our lovely wedding presents, so cooking is really enjoyable for both of us, we just don’t have the hours in the day.

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A few times so far in 2017, including just last Sunday, we’ve had freezer cooking bursts where I or both of us, cook up the meat I’ve purchased that week and make meals for the coming week and also for the freezer. It really only takes a couple hours and we get about 5-10 meals each time, depending on how much meat I’ve bought. Instead of freezing whole meals, we really only freeze meat. Thanks to Aldi, I’m almost ALWAYS have fresh produce in the fridge which takes about 5 minutes to steam and thanks to the Instant Pot, if we want rice, I can knock it out in about 20 minutes. So that’s less than a 30 minute meal which is about all I have time for, plus so much less mess when the meat/stove portion is already cooked! Most of our meats thaw so quickly that even if I forget to take one out before work, that frozen taco meat can be heated in a pan or microwave in such a short time.

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I stock up on meats, #1 when we need meat, and #2 when it’s at a great price. My “buy” prices for meats are currently: Less than $2/lb for boneless skinless chicken breasts, less than $2.89/lb ground beef, $2/lb or less for ground turkey, and $0.69 chicken legs/thighs. Of course your prices are going to vary based off of prices in your area and the type of meat you’re buying. We don’t do much pork, but that’s another great addition.

Our favorite freezer meat recipes are listed below. These are simply ideas and you’ll want to pick ones that your family loves. These are our favorites and we are happy to eat them every week, usually it’s about every other week as we don’t cook dinner every single night.

  • Korean Beef (I’ll steam broccoli and make rice)
  • Taco meat (use for tacos, nachos, taco salads, etc)
  • Chicken tenders/nuggets *raw* (I’ll slice the large breasts into smaller pieces before freezing because it makes it faster to cook and I prefer the smaller pieces for stir frys)
  • Hamburgers (I’ll steam a veggie and it’s a great night for frozen fries or potatoes!)
  • Plain cooked ground meat (use for spaghetti and meat sauce, baked ziti, or any casserole meal that calls for ground meat)
  • Shredded BBQ Chicken/Pork (I fill a crockpot or Instant Pot with chicken or pork, add BBQ sauce, some water, and seasonings – let cook, shred, freeze)

We always store in freezer bags (quart size works well, gallon if you need bigger). You could use a foodsaver as well! We label each bag with a Sharpie. We freeze enough so at least one person, if not both of us gets leftovers for the next day. It’s really hard in my opinion to portion out how much meat should go in one bag, but sometimes I’ll grab a dinner plate and actually put the meat on my plate to get an idea of what my typical serving is, then I’ll eyeball and multiple by 4.

It’s so nice to come home from work and not having to make a huge meal and mess, but have a great dinner on the table! I always try to keep our favorite fresh veggies on hand for steaming, like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and asparagus. I’m also a huge fan of canned green beans 😉 If we’re going to be eating rice more than once that week, I’ll make a double batch and refrigerate the half for another dinner. We aren’t the healthiest eaters ever but we try to be mindful and avoid as many processed foods as possible, but usually after grocery shopping after a long day at work, I’ll come home and put a frozen pizza in the oven. It happens 😉 We try not to overload on carbs (rice is our favorite though) and I ALWAYS make sure to have veggies on hand. At the moment, with our busy lifestyles, this is what works best for us! I hope this motivates you to spend a few hours one night or Sunday afternoon cooking up some of your family’s favorite meals!