My frugal tip for today is to always take the time to freezer cook & bake. It can be as little as 3 hours once every other week or even once a month. When you first begin start small, be realistic and think about what type of meals would save you time. When I had the four children time was precious, eating out was expensive and unnecessary but I was tired and busy. Even being single afterwards, I would often just think it was easier to get a quick take out, but even when you are buying for one or two, it still costs money to eat out. Here are some tips for beginning freezer cooking and baking.
1. Start by setting yourself a slot of 3 hours and put it on the calendar. If it’s there you won’t agree to meeting up with friends that afternoon, or schedule other things.
2. The week you cook make sure include any ingredients you will need in your weekly shop. Think careful about what type of meals would be of most benefit.
3. Make sure you have storage equipment and simple containers of different sizes and room in your freezer!
4. Involve your kids! This is such a great educational activity in measuring, recording, printing, timing and working on your fine motor skills! Make sure everyone has clean hands, aprons and the little ones who can’t participate are busy & in eye-sight (playdoh & colouring is great, as is playing with Tupperware!)
5. Set a goal of making 8 meals (2 meals for each week) and making two baked goods for snacks or breakfasts. If you think about it, that is only making four different recipes. Most can cook at the same time. For starting I would recommend making two lasagna, a big bowl of soup with at least 3 meals worth, muffins and bread (banana or sultana, orange & bran works well). Then work yourself up, now typically I would make two or three soups, chili, lasagna x 2, bolognaise sauce, curry, chicken strips (when eating meat. heh!), potato & kale bake, muffins x 24, cookies, breads, smoothies, pesto and apple sauce. Generally now, one cooking & baking session a month gets me about 20 main meals, 10 breakfasts and another 10+ meals to donate to a women’s shelter or people in need.
6. Do your dishes as you go! This means at the end of the cooking time, your kitchen is clean and you can pat yourself on the back and say “job well done”!
7. Label what you’ve made with a date, ingredients, size of entrée.
8. Mark on the calendar what days you are going to have your meals and what to have them with (with lasagna I always serve a salad and a green veg like green beans or peas, with soup I always serve rolls & a salad), or mark 1/2 of the days and leave the rest for “I am so exhausted I feel sick” days [that's always been my strategy ]
9. Schedule your next freezer cooking day and reflect on what went well and what could have been better.
10. Enjoy the fruits of your labor; save money and time!
If you would like to read about one of my Baking Day’s and what meals I made, then see this post!