If you have read this blog with any sort of regularity, you know that I am trying extremely hard to curtail our grocery spending. I’ve made attempts before, but like tons of busy families, we shopped too much and often restocked the things we eat most rather than coming up with ways to use up existing food supplies. I finally found a way to make myself stay away from the store: By playing the Grocery Game at Canadian Budget Binder. I know I sound like a broken record, but by posting everything you buy, you become much more aware of what you are spending money on. I have noticed that we spend way too much on snacks and convenience foods. I’m convinced Mr. CBB could whip up a yummy, frugal recipe out of a turnip and saltine crackers, so it’s a hard act to follow. Recently I’ve discovered the idea of having a cooking marathon one day a month from Mandy at Money Master Mom and Catherine at Plunged in Debt. The idea is to cook like a fiend for one day so that you can take a cooking vacation for a few weeks. Also by having ready made meals in the freezer, you aren’t tempted to heat up a Hot Pocket or eat out. Even though I’m from the South, I’ve never envisioned myself as a cook. I actually admit being afraid of gravy, but I wanted to try and see if cooking once a month could help my grocery budget and give me more time in the evenings.
I actually cheated from the beginning. Unexpectedly, my husband and daughter left me alone for a evening to visit with some relatives. What to do with a solo evening, take a bath, read a book? Nope, I started cooking. I got my plan ready and cooked my chicken and chopped veggies for the next day’s big cook. I had gone to the store a day before, but all of the meat and some of the ingredients came out of my freezer and cabinets. Everything was ready for the big day. Wow, is this what the space shuttle astronauts felt like the day before a launch? Could I actually make a month’s worth of meals in one weekend? With fire department number on speed dial, I began cooking the next day.
Six hours later, I am proud to say, I had a fabulous assortment of delicious, nutritious, affordable meals ready to go in the freezer. In case you’re curious, I made
Lasagna enough for four meals
Cheesy Chicken Chowder enough for three meals
Barbeque Pork Tenderloin enough for two meals
Chicken and Veggie Casserole enough for four meals
Beef Taco Meat for at least three meals
Chicken Taco Meat for two meals
Ground Turkey Stir Fry for two meals
Chicken/Veggie/Tomato Sauce Stir Fry for three meals
Total of 23 meals.
We have been eating the freezer meals for about ten days now. I did not make enough for 30 days, but if we can eat these during the week, I can make breakfast for dinner, pasta, or something easy on the weekends. When each dish was ready to be frozen, I divided them into meal size portions and put them in plastic containers or freezer bags to go on the bottom shelf of our freezer. We decide the night before what we want and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. Heat it up at dinner time, and a salad, and voila! Everything has tasted great with no hint of freezer burn. The best thing, though, is no frantic discussions about what we can throw together for dinner in time to get all the evening stuff done to prepare for the next day. We heat, eat, and have minimal clean up.
I’m sure I won’t be this good every month, and there will probably be some Hot Pockets in our future, but I think monthly cooking is a great way to have homemade meals without rushing around at the end of the work day. I am looking for new recipes and hope to do this again in December. I won’t know the grocery budget total until the end of the month, but I think we will be under our limit because all that I need to buy will be milk, bread, and produce. If you want to save some time and money, I would highly recommend trying a monthly marathon cook. If I can do it, anyone can.
How often do you cook? Are Hot Pockets really that bad?