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Posts tagged with: freezer meals

Week 3 Spending Report

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Week 3 was our big NO SPEND WEEK for groceries and I’m super pumped to say WE DID IT!

In my Week 2 post I said I’d allow myself $10-15 to get some fresh produce if needed and I’m proud to say I was able to grab some sale fruits/veggies for only $10.18! That leaves us $98 for our last week of groceries. Plus, we still have a freezer full of Dream Dinners meals and plenty in our pantry. This is totally do-able.

Meal Planning

Not like its a big secret, but the reason we were able to stick to our No Spend Week is that we planned all of our meals around foods we already had on-hand.

For example, I found this old can of Cream of Celery Soup in the pantry and noticed the recipe on the back – containing all ingredients we already had! Bingo! This was dinner one night:

I will say it wasn’t the kids’ favorite, but everyone got fed and we went on to live another day. I swear, part of this process is retraining my BRAIN with how I think about FOOD. Like, I love food. It is so good. But I have to remind myself that food is FUEL. Not every meal needs to be this gourmet experience. Not every meal needs to tickle the taste buds and excite the senses, you know? This is good practice because I really want to start a diet and exercise program soon. Remember how hubs’ is a certified personal trainer? I’ve been bugging him to put together an at-home workout program for me – at least 4-6 weeks. If/when this happens, I’ll be sharing the deets on the blog so it’ll be like free personal training for YOU, too! 🙂

Avoiding Budget Busters

There was one thing I was worried would blow our “No Spend Week” this past week. There was a “Camping Under The Stars” town event that we had signed up for months ago. Hubs and I used to be avid campers. We really scaled it back since having kids, but we usually take them once in Fall to camp on our nearby mountain and every spring we look forward to this specific town camping event. But typically, our camping trips include TONS of money for planning and prep and FOOD. We already own all the camping supplies (tents, sleeping bags, grill, lanterns, etc.), but we stock up on snacks and carefully plan out meals, etc. Then go to the grocery store and stock all up. I swear, it can be $100 just for 2 days worth of food! (Note – we were only camping on Saturday night, so we only needed food for Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast plus camping snacks).

I knew I wanted to avoid all the over-spending this time around so I took my own advice and shopped our fridge/freezer to see what I could do differently. Instead of hot dogs or hamburgers (which would’ve requiring the purchasing of food since we don’t have hot dogs and we don’t have any buns, etc.), I decided on a recipe I found online for bacon and chicken-wrapped asparagus!

picture source

We already had some week-old asparagus that really NEEDED to be eaten. We already had week+ old bacon that NEEDED to be eaten. And we already had chicken breasts in the freezer that just needed to be thawed out. Bam!

Before leaving for the camping trip, I prepped all the chicken/bacon/asparagus food and put into foil packets so they would be easy to cook on the grill. With the chicken cut into thin strips, they didn’t take long to cook and although the asparagus ended up a little over-done in my case, they weren’t inedible or anything. It all worked out well and tasted GREAT! Way better than a boring old hot dog!

I did buy a bag of jet-puffed marshmallows (which happened to be on clearance for only 98 cents!! Great deal!) – that was part of the $10 I spent. But, instead of doing full s’mores (which also would’ve required graham crackers and chocolate bars), we stuck to just marshmallows. It’s everyone’s favorite part anyway. Typically, I’m the only one who even really eats the s’mores. Hubs and the girls just like the roasted marshmallows solo.

We also took snack-foods we already had in our pantry. Some granola bars, a bag of chips to share, and box of cheddar bunnies.

For breakfast, I decided to do something I’d already had in my freezer – breakfast burritos!! I don’t make breakfast burritos often, but when I do I always make extra to freeze. Typically, the plan is to pull them out and microwave for a couple minutes on busy school mornings. But I thought this was a great opportunity to eat them up – they were in a frozen state but would have all Saturday to thaw out in our ice chest, and then we’d just throw them on the grill (also in foil) to warm through on Sunday morning. It worked like a charm and the whole family gobbled them down! Best part was they required zero prep and zero dollars!

Week 4 Ahead

Heading into Week 4 with $98 remaining of our grocery budget I feel hopeful and excited. I’m going out of town a couple days this week for a conference up in Phoenix (all meals are included and the conference and hotel costs were paid by my department so $0 out-of-pocket for me aside from gasoline to drive there). Often, when I’m traveling hubs’ ends up eating out with the girls. He’s a great griller (which is awesome when we’re in grill-season like now), but he’s not the best kitchen cook. BUT, I’ve found that Dream Dinners really helps with that because he can quickly and easily throw something in the oven or on the stove top when it’s simple and requires no prep or fancy kitchen techniques, gadgets, etc. I’ll have him pick a couple of his favorite Dream Dinners from the freezer before I leave so he has them in the fridge ready-to-go. Speaking of Dream Dinners – I did not sign up for the month of May so that I could try to save that money. But I’m a little nervous because I’ve found that we’ve become somewhat reliant on them. They’re just so easy and require zero thought whatsoever. So I’m considering doing an at-home version myself. Like a month of freezer meals one Sunday or something? I know I could do it for cheaper than at Dream Dinners.

Anyone have good tips or recommendations for making a month of freezer meals? Any great websites, freezer-friendly recipes, etc?

 


Freezer Meals

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One of our big downfalls with our budget has historically been in the area of food. We’ve relied a lot on eating out for quick and easy meals when time is short, work in long, etc. But because of you guys, I’ve been challenging myself to try to make more freezer meals. Over Thanksgiving week (really, in the wake of Thanksgiving), I created several freezer meals to have on-hand that can help with those busy nights when I know I won’t have time to cook.

My photography skills are not the best, but this will give you an idea of some of the things I’ve thrown together and will maybe give you an idea or two for creating Freezer Meals out of leftovers at your house!

Turkey Shephard’s Pie:

This meal was truly thrown together as a random hodgepodge of ingredients, but it worked out so well together! I did a take on “Shepherd’s Pie”, but using turkey! I made it up as I went, but it was somewhat similar to this recipe. I used shredded turkey that had been chopped up (rather than ground turkey). I didn’t use the heavy cream or egg and, instead, had stirred in a can of cream-of-celery soup to the meat mixture. I still did include peas with the meat, topped it all with potatoes, and then a generous serving of cheese. It was delicious!

Turkey Enchiladas Verde

I got real ambitious in making a TON of enchiladas! We had a MASSIVE turkey (16-lb. for our family of 4!) so this was the one meal I planned on making ahead-of-time, knowing it would be a great way to use up a bunch of turkey. In all, I made 3 containers-worth of turkey enchiladas. I used up a can of green chilies that had been in my pantry for a long time and used a store-bought can of verde enchilada sauce. Topped with some cheese, and placed gently in the freezer for future use.

Turkey Sandwiches

There’s no reason that every meal has to be this big, elaborate thing. My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until I was a teenager, so I think I got used to each meal being this “event.” Every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) was served at the dinner table with everything nicely “set” and each meal was totally balanced: fruit, vegetable, protein, and dairy. <3

I love my mom and would love to emulate her in any way I can. I still insist that we eat at the dinner table each night together because I think it’s nice to sit all together and talk about our days, etc. But I also don’t think every meal needs to be this big elaborate thing. One night we just had plain-jana leftover turkey sandwiches. I made a little honey mustard sauce (literally just mixing together honey and mustard) and it was a tasty dinner one night with carrot slices and chips on the side as accompaniments.

Thanksgiving Bowl

Probably the ugliest picture of them all (and this was totally lopsided because I swear the potatoes were not that out-of-portion with the rest of the meal!), but this is what I called the “Thanksgiving Bowl.” I got the idea from the KFC Bowl. If you’re unfamiliar, the KFC bowl consists of layered food: mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and fried chicken, with gravy and cheese on top. Sounds like a lot going on in one bowl, but it comes together nicely. I decided to do a similar thing with leftover Thanksgiving Food. In our bowl, I layered turkey on the bottom, leftover stuffing, sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It looked pretty gross, but it tasted delicious! The kids gobbled it up, each asking for more! That’s a win in my book!

Turkey Noodle Soup

Last but not least (and, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo), I did a turkey noodle soup! I used the turkey bones to make a homemade turkey broth (remember my last homemade broth?). To it, I added turkey, chopped carrots and celery, and some frozen noodles. This was our last of the Thanksgiving-related meals. We had one serving while still “fresh” and I froze the other serving to have on-hand for an extra freezer meal.

I have LOVED having additional freezer meal options on-hand! Even though they do require some advance planning (in order to take them from the freezer to thaw out), I can typically look at my schedule and estimate what days they would work best. It’s been so convenient that I really hope to maintain this new “tradition.” I hope to plan at least one meal per week that I can double (eating half of it and freezing the other half), but I also plan to stock up on freezer meals at times when I’m home more (e.g., over the winter break will be a great time to stock up!)

Do you cook freezer meals? If so, link to recipes you like to use! I’d love to compile a list of options!