A vast majority of families still do not know what’s for dinner by 4pm each day. This lack of planning can result in costly restaurant meals and unhealthy and expensive take-out food. By planning family menus each week or each month, not only can your family eat healthier, but you can save a lot of money. Freezer meals are a great way to plan ahead without frequent trips to the grocery store or food spoiling.
What are Freezer Meals
Freezer meals are essentially complete dinners that you prep and prepare ahead of time and put them in storage containers in the freezer for future use. Freezer meals can be precooked and frozen, or frozen in a “raw” state. It depends on your tastes, time, and preferences. Most any recipe can be made ahead of time, and frozen in storage bags or disposable pans and sealed.
When deciding to create freezer meals, it is important to carefully look at the recipes and make a grocery list. By being prepared and getting all of your ingredients for a week, two weeks, or a month you can cut down on trips to the grocery store – saving on both gas and impulse purchases.
Because you will be making many meals at once, you can purchase items, especially meat, in bulk or family style packages that save money. You also have flexibility in your meal planning, so you can look at what is on sale at your local grocery store and plan meals around those items.
It’s best to plan to spend one afternoon doing all of the meal assembly. This way you can make things all at once and not have to dirty up your kitchen and use ingredients in multiple recipes. For example, you might make a spaghetti sauce and pre-cook meatballs in it for freezing for meatball subs and use the sauce in a lasagna.
Store complete meals in freezer bags or storage containers and label the meals with the cooking instructions. It’s helpful to make a note on the label if there should be a particular side dish, salad, or bread that goes with that particular meal.
Each night, you can pull out the meal for the next day and let it thaw in the refrigerator or just put in in the oven or slow cooker according to the directions.
By shopping in bulk and using your local store sales you can save on the grocery budget. You can make fewer trips to the grocery saving on gas and extra purchases. Having the meals planned ahead will take away the stress of not knowing what’s for dinner but most importantly saves money by preventing those fast food purchases and impulse restaurant outings.