Monday, December 13, 2010

Experiments with Freezer Cooking, Menu Planning, and The Budget

Whadda ya know? It's cold in Florida! So we chowed down on chili this past week...
I am still basking in the glory of having most of my monthly meal planning and cooking done. Ya'll, you've got to give this a try. Every day it's giving me the gift of more time. How could I have neglected my monthly freezer cooking day for so long? No more, my friends, no more.

I'm still experimenting, however, with how freezer cooking works with the budget. We have been on a $50/week grocery budget for around a year. This is one of the big ways we keep costs down while The Less Project is underway. My goal is to cook primarily healthy food and make enough at each meal so that we have leftovers and/or could squeeze in a neighbor or two around the table--all while staying under $50/week!

Buying all the groceries for my December cooking day cost approximately $120. Which leaves about $80 left in the budget for buying weekly produce--around $20/week. Which sounds like it could stretch. But so far, I'm pushing the envelope every week. I neglected to use coupons this week (shocking) and my pocketbook felt it. Time to do some tweaking to see if I can get my costs down when it comes to freezer cooking. I'm curious to see how long the freezer meals actually last us, because they may spill over into January, which will bring the cost down.

Regardless, I'm still thrilled with the time and effort my freezer is saving me this month. Here's our menu plan for this week (based off the monthly plan):

Breakfasts: Hot cereal, toast with tea, eggs
Lunches: leftovers, sandwiches
Monday--Spaghetti, Memaw's Green Beans, and (potentially...if I decide to take it on) homemade french bread!
Tuesday--Spicy Chicken Soup
Wednesday--Burritos with tomatoes, lettuce, and fresh guacamole
Thursday--Crockpot BBQ Chicken with corn and biscuits (carried over from last week)
Friday--Pizza Night
Saturday--Parmesan Tilapia with peas and carrots
Sunday--Chicken Alfredo with salad

How is your December going so far? Are you feeling stressed or enjoying the season? Anything tempting being baked in your kitchen?

Linked to Menu Plan Monday.


  1. I get to start baking tomorrow, and getting the the teacher gifts made. I love frezzer cooking, but this month we are trying to eat everything in there and not add to it. Which is very hard for me.

  2. Go Alicia, I think you will make it with your budget; you probably have food leftover for januari! Loved the fact that you were baking cookies too, we're starting this week.
    Happy cooking and baking! Love Amelie

  3. You go with that budget, girlfriend! And I am so impressed by how you open your home and kitchen, even on such a tight budget! Be proud of me b/c I used a COUPON!!!! $3 off of any pampers cruisers. I went to walgreens and bought a few weekly groceries and toiletries and ended up getting a $5 off coupon on our entire next purchase! So psyched!

  4. I guess the chili froze well? I started thinking about trying to do this when you posted about it last week. I'm thinking maybe this is the solution I'm looking for to my work schedule. Could be a fun Sunday afternoon thing for Husband and I to do together. One thing I had already considered doing was boiling a bunch of chicken breasts and cutting them into bite-sized pieces and then freezing them in an amount of 1 cup at a time. We make so many things require bite-sized pieces of chicken. Have you tried this? Husband is skeptical it will be any good.

  5. You are really convincing me to give monthly freezer cooking a try! So far, I haven't done freezer cooking on a large scale. I will just make extra and freeze things like Belgium waffles when I am already making them anyway. I challenge myself to keep my grocery shopping budget to $60/week (which I blog about on, but freezer cooking may help bring that total down more (not to mention the time saved each day preparing dinner). Hmmm....

  6. I'm loving the feedback from you guys!! :D

    Ammie, I'm so proud of you! You're going to be coupon-savvy in no time. And I loooove those $5/purchase coupons. :)

    Kelley, the chili freezes beautifully! As for the chicken, may I recommend a different method? I've found that boiling chicken breasts dries them out. Instead, I like to marinate them in some italian dressing, then bake them in the oven at 350 for around 30 minutes (or until the juices run clear!). They come out tender this way...then you can chop them up and freeze! It's pretty much just as easy as boiling, IMHO. :D

  7. Great job! I know your pocketbook felt it by not using coupons, but boy oh boy am I noticing the food prices creeping up month by month. Yikes! Thanks for a great post!

  8. Your menu plan looks very good. I wish I had a bowl of that Chili right now. It is cold here. Thank you for sharing and you have a great week!

  9. Your menu looks great! I have an easy french bread recipe I love and bought some french bread pans from using my swagbucks (gotta love those things!). We're not baking anything today, I need to be though! The kids have been asking for the Banana Cinnamon French Toast Sticks :)

  10. I just got a once a month cookbook the other day {found it for $3!}. It has 2 month menu plans, and 4 2-week menu plans. Jonathan has off the week between Christmas and New Year, so I'm planning to do a day of cooking while he's home. I'm hoping to squeeze in an entire month's worth of meals in the one day, so I'm doing easier, faster recipes.

  11. I used to freezer cook all of the time and I did find that what I thought would only last a month, actually did last a little longer than that. Of course, we would also have the occasional eating out which meant I did not use that meal that was planned. I hope you can keep within your budget with the freezer cooking.

  12. We are researching for an article on family cooking on a low budget. Some very interesting information here to inspire us


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