I.Heart. My Freezer. Topic 3 – Meal Planning

by Patti on November 2, 2012 · 5 comments

Welcome back!  If you’ve been following along in this series you’ve learned What Material To Buy and What Kinds Of Food I Freeze.   I promised that I would show you how to save money and plan meals using your freezer.  These are pretty big secrets. I must like you a lot to be sharing this.

WELL, as you know with my leftovers series, and as you may have guessed, we bbq a lot.  A lot.  A. LOT.  I never really tried to dissuade Kevin from grilling, because I really do enjoy it just as much as he does, however I also really like to cook.  So, we have found a pretty good way of compromising.  I ask him to do ridiculous amounts of bbq, then I divide out what he’s done into meal sized portions, and freeze them.  For example, he recently did a ginormous brisket.  We had it for dinner, I took the rest of the huge beast, sliced it up, and froze it into 2 cup bags.  I labelled each bag with the recipe I was going to use.

Just like that – I had four meals for the month of October done.  I always add in some staples on our crazy busy nights like spaghetti and tacos.  I try to have a variety of things each week – a pasta, a seafood, a red meat, a poultry, and (sadly) usually a pizza of some kind.  That helps me plan big time.  I really think this helps my kids eat a varied diet as well.  They usually surprise themselves with things they end up liking.

I just recently had a conversation with a friend about how she doesn’t do this because she doesn’t really like to cook and she doesn’t feel like she’s good at it.  I think this would be GREAT for people who feel that way.  You can go through cookbooks or our leftovers page, find the recipes you want to try and go from there. When I find a recipe I like, that’s when I take the time to write it on a recipe card. If I have a recipe card on something, that means I have tried it and I liked it.  If it’s not on a recipe card, then I haven’t COMMITTED to the recipe.

This is making me sound a little crazy, isn’t it? Oh well, I’m way too far into this now to stop.  So I’ll continue…

So, the way I go about planning this is I literally sit down with my cup of coffee and look to see what is on sale at the grocery store.  That determines what Kevin is going to grill.  I buy most of what I need (always the meat, and if there is a veggie that I need to be grilled). Then I make him really really happy and have him grill a ridiculous amount.  We usually end up doing this on the weekend just because we have more time then.  I divide  my meat into the bags and freeze them.

I follow up with this menu planning each Saturday by looking at the upcoming week’s menu, and figuring out what else I need to go with the meal, whether it be a different veggie, a salad, etc.

To help you, I filled in a month’s worth of meals from our own calendar.  This will give you a visual of I organize myself.  And if you want to do this yourself, here is the link to the Google Doc.

Calendar for Meal Planning

I try to make use of every part of every thing we make – for example – I make broth out of chicken or turkeys to use for soups later.  I freeze the broth as well – with the meat that comes off the carcass.  That makes making the soup later a breeze.

Another tip – if I’m going to chop vegetables for soups and casseroles, then I’m going to chop some serious vegetables.  I will cut up onions all day long, freeze those in baggies, and then whenever I want a few cut up onions in my eggs, or sauce, or potatoes, I just take the bag out and throw some in there.  I do the same with carrots and celery for soups.  Taking the chopping out of the preparation of a meal REALLY makes the preptime of a meal fly by.

Are you yawning by this or intrigued?  Am I the only one that finds this interesting?  If you find this even remotely interesting, please comment.  My self esteem depends on it.

 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Adrienne November 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. All of it. I’ve lost my passion for cooking over the past few months due to crazy schedules at home, but I may be reinspired. Keep this stuff coming.

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Katie November 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

Rockstar! This is great. I’ve come a long way with my meal planning, but I’m now inspired to take it a step further and cut up onions (hate) and veggies and freeze them (and put together some meals in a ziplock that I can just dump into a crockpot as needed). 🙂

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Patti November 2, 2012 at 11:39 am

It works great – I’m telling you! All of a sudden, cooking isn’t so overwhelming. The freezing of pancakes and waffles have made my mornings considerably easier as well. I would highly recommend that.

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Kim Lewis November 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

I think I need a bigger freezer. You make this sound *almost* doable. I also need to get a grill. 😉

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Patti November 2, 2012 at 9:57 am

Kim – I have a deep freezer in my basement and an extra refrigerator in my garage. And it’s SO doable! I promise! And a grill…well, only get a grill if you’d use it. You can take the techniques I talked about here and apply it to roasted food. Or…I may know a guy who likes to grill…you might be able to talk him into making some food for you…just saying…:)

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