Monday, February 17, 2014

So...Meal Planning, Bulking Cooking, and Freezer Meals (Oh My!)

At the beginning of this year, Husband and I recommitted to and readjusted our budget to spend less and save more.  We want to be more careful with our money and plan better for our financial future - who doesn't want to do this?
groceries from last weeks bulk cooking

When our budget was super tight - not by choice, but by circumstance - I did a really good job planning and budgeting for groceries.  You've heard me talk about our $100/month grocery budget before - I still don't quite know how we did that, but I know that we did because we had to.  I found a lot of satisfaction out of being able to stay within that budget and still feed our family (back then we were three).  It was a challenge and it was kinda fun.
Even though we don't have the same need now to stay on such a strict grocery budget, we really wanted to do it again so that we could save more of that money or use it for other things (like fixing up this house!)  With a family of seven now, there's no way we could do $100/month - it's more like $150/week.

I have learned a bunch of tricks and tips on how to save money on groceries without having to spend hours coupon clipping and ad matching (which would save you even more). 

One trick is bulk cooking and freezer meals.

This helps me use my ingredients more efficiently, helps me avoid wasting food, and has my meals planned and ready to go in advance which equals $$$$ and time saved.  It is a beautiful thing.  And I really enjoy it!

To give you an idea of what I'm cooking, here is my bulking cooking list for this past weekend:

1 large lasagna
2 small lasagnas
2 large baked rotini meals
2 small enchilada casserole
2 chicken fajita meals
2 pesto ravioli meals
clam chowder meals
3 bbq chicken sliders meals
2 café rio pork roasts

That is 20 meals for our family, plus leftovers to eat for lunch or dinner.
I always make a few larger meals that we can use when we have family or friends over for dinner, or bring to a family that may be in need of a meal.  I love having it in my freezer ready to share.

Here's the shopping list and grocery bill:

Local Grocer $66.63
lasagna noodles, 2 boxes
spaghetti sauce, 6 jars
brown sugar
rotini pasta, 2 packages
pork sirloin roasts, 6 lbs
carrots, 2 lb
onion, 2
green bell peppers, 2
red bell peppers, 2
russet potatoes, 15 lb
clams, 8 cans
enchilada sauce, 4 cans
fajita seasoning, 2 packets
tortilla chips
slider buns
bbq sauce, 3 bottles

Costco $93.20
1% milk
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
chicken tenders, 6 lb
uncooked tortillas
cottage cheese
spinach mozzarella ravioli
ground beef, 6 lb

Total:: $159.83

P.S. This is not my entire shopping list - just the items for the freezer meals.  Sides dishes, snacks, fruits + veggie sides not including in this list.

I chose some of these meals based on items that were on sale - for example, pasta was on sale for $1 a package, pasta sauce and bbq sauce also $1 a bottle, pork roasts were on sale for $1.79/lb, brown sugar on sale for 2/$4, and peppers were also $1 a piece.  Shopping the sales help me decide what to cook that week and helps save money.

With the cost of Ziploc freezer bags (Ziploc brand is so much better than generic!), aluminum 9x13 pans (buy these at the dollar store!), and foil that I had on hand, plus tax, the total may come closer to $180.  But still!  That comes out to approximately $9 per meal - even less if you factor in the leftover meals.  All these meals for under $200 is amazing!  And having all those meals in the freezer, oven/crockpot ready is priceless!

This will feed us for well over two weeks, plus there are leftover ingredients such as ground beef, cheese, milk, and tortillas that can be used for other meals in the future.  That leaves about $120 (or more) for fresh produce, bread, and eggs that are other staples in our meals, if I'm sticking to a $300/pay period budget.  For a family of seven, that is not bad at all!
7 meals and 2 leftover meals ready to go in my freezer
There is so much more I could say about this topic.  I am such a fan of planning and cooking meals this way.  It makes grocery shopping and cooking so much more enjoyable and the impulse buying at the grocery store is so much easier to avoid.  Plus, I strangely enjoy seeing my freezer neatly packed with meals for my family ready to go.  Gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and  accomplishment.  And the money saved is a huge bonus as well.

I love having a plan and sticking to it.  It's a great feeling!
Hopefully I'll get some of these recipes up to share and some other tips and tricks I've learned.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve to save money on groceries? may also like::
::So...My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
::So...Baby Bump
::So...Etsy Toys

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Mercedes said...

I would love the Slider recipe if you have time to post it! Budgeting meals is something I've been trying to figure out for a while. We are trying to stick to 100/wk. But I still seem to go over and our family is smaller and younger than yours! I need more ideas on how to keep our meals and grocery budget down. Thanks for the tips and the clam chowder recipe! :)