Saturday, March 21, 2009

What I am learning about Organization/Freezer Cooking

Southern Plate is having a save money week and there are two posts about Major Freezer Cooking that have me inspired. I realized the biggest key to all of this is planning.

So I went to work. First I had to think back at what my typical dinners were so I could make a 2 week meal plan
Before I share this information, please remember that I am just learning about real cooking and I have 0 creativity when it comes to food.
Here are some foods that my family typically ate before I discovered Southern Plate
  • Hamburger Helper 2-3 times a cycle
  • Spaghetti-weekly sometimes Biweekly
  • Hamburgers/Gravy 1-2 cycle
  • Frozen Salisbury Steaks
  • Frozen Turkey Slices
  • Frozen Cheesy Chicken Skillet Meal
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Nuggets and Mac/Cheese
  • Slop (Awesomely Cheap Meal I will never give up)
  • Ravioli
  • Italian Chicken (1 a month)
  • Taco Night
  • BLT Night
As you can see, life was pretty dull...

Here are some meals I have added since my search to spice things up
  • Buffalo Chicken Wraps
  • Beanie Weenies (BBQ Pork and Beans with Hot Dogs)
Meals from Southern Plate
  • Taco Pizza
  • Taco Casserole (Its the meal I will be trying this week)
  • Pizza Subs (She calls them rolls)
  • Mac and Cheese Bake
  • Melt In Your Mouth Doughnuts (Saturday Morning)
italics are really fast meals (20 minutes or so)

I only try 1 new recipe each cycle... So As you can see I have been dramatically building our Meal List. DH is so happy to be seeing Hamburger Helper *almost* eliminated from the cubboard. Now Will, He's a different story... The kid could live on nothing but Peanut Butter Sandwiches. But hey he's almost three!

So I decided what I wanted to eat for the next two weeks (Goodness this is becoming harder and harder to do!)

I Planned which of my recipes can be cooked in large quantities at the same amount of time and frozen. Looking At my Meal Plan for the next two weeks (Starting Tuesday) I learned
  • the Taco Pizza Recipe (SP) can make two pizzas and I can freeze one with very little extra work (Just spreading the ingredients on an extra pizza)
  • I am going to be trying out a Taco Casserole Recipe (SP) This seems to make a lot... I should be able to get three meals out of it and it looks and sounds absolutely Fabulous!
  • I already make a good Beanie Weenie recipe... I am going to double it (No extra work) and try to freeze half.
My crew doesn't like to repeat meals a lot in the two week period, so I will be using half of this on the next pay period.

I made a complete meal list for this cycle and then I made a Shopping List.

The easiest way to do this is to have an electronic Cookbook. You can use any word processor or access works great. When you find a recipe you like add it to your cook book. But really any cook book will work, you just will hand copy ingredients.

When you are ready to make your grocery list you can copy all of the ingredients into excel.
I am pretty good at excel so I was able to chart everything and get it to total up my quantities. If you are not comfortable with it, You can do the same thing by hand making a graph.

I'll include a picture tomorrow.

I like using this list because I am less likely to forget anything (As I always do) With the list being on Excel I can just keep adding to it. When I total up my quantities, I will just ignore any item that have a 0 next to it. I also added other things I use that I don't use for dinner such as bread, milk, breakfast/lunch foods.

The great part about using a computerized list is that you can change it with little work!

I am hoping that by freezing meals that I can cook in bulk easily I will start to have a small stock pile of meals ready to go. As I keep doing this I will start to cut my grocery bill down because I will have enough that I can focus on buying things I use when it is on sale rather than biweekly. I also will spend less time cooking daily!

Tips to take this further
  • Look in your circulars/Coupons and check for sales. You can make a note of these on your grocery list next to the items.
  • If you use Excel, include what store you will purchase at. You can sort your list by store when you are finished.

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