You might be asking “But won’t this cost me more money than my regular weekly grocery bill?” And it’s a valid question. Let me just assure you that it certainly doesn’t have to. And it will save you money overall.
In order to make several dishes at once, you’ll likely have to buy more of the individual ingredients than you normally would buy in a week. But, many of the ingredients you’ll need are items you already have on hand. Yes, there are still items you’ll have to buy several of, but you can be creative with your grocery list that first week, and you can more than make up the difference by eating in just one night that you would have gone out.
Remember, the primary purpose of freezer cooking is to save money. First, you save money by going out to dinner a lot less because you have whole meals or significant parts of meals in your freezer. Secondly, you can buy up food when it’s on sale, cutting down on what you pay for the actual groceries. So, it may be an issue for the first week or so, but it will very quickly turn into a satisfying, money saving venture.
Here are some tips to get you started without blowing your weekly grocery budget.
*If your’e planning to tackle a whole month’s worth of meals then you’ll need more money up front than you would spend in a typical week. But keep in mind that you don’t have to buy everything your family will eat in a month, just what you need for that week and for your freezer cooking day. You can use subsequent week’s grocery budget for the non-freezer items like milk, bread, produce, and on-sale pantry items.
*Figure out how much you’ll be saving immediately (this week) by having a meal plan and not eating out as much as usual or at all. That amount will more than likely be enough to cover anything extra you need to buy.
*Don’t start with something that is typically expensive and isn’t on sale right now.
*Even if you may want to move toward doing all your meals for the month, start with just doing a few meals or a few recipe helpers or side dishes.
*Start with what you have. Got some rice? Cook enough for 5 meals.
How about some baking ingredients? Make up some biscuits to go along with your next stew. And cooking up a batch of homemade refried beans will get you through many a lunch crisis.
*Start by doing just a small freezer cooking session each week. Buy what’s on sale that week and use it for a few freezer meals or side dishes.
*Go cheap for a week or two. Serve meals that are super inexpensive like rice & beans, vegetable soup, or baked potato bar. Use the savings to stock up on a few items to put into freezer meals.
*Forego the tin foil pans for now and just make things that can be stored in freezer bags. Almost everything I make goes in bags. I haven’t figured out a way to do lasagna in a bag though. But lasagna isn’t cheap, so you won’t start with lasagna.
*Be careful about casseroles and meals with lots of ingredients. You may think you can’t afford beef stew so you’ll have poppyseed chicken instead. But the reality is that with the beef stew (and other meat & potato meals) the meat may be a bit pricey but the veggies are super cheap. Add the cost of the entire stew and compare it to the cost of the ingredients for poppyseed chicken; chicken, 2 different kinds of soup, sour cream, noodles, crackers, and butter (and the seeds if you don’t already have them.) I don’t have anything against poppyseed chicken, I just want you to make accurate assessments of what meals you can afford.
You can start freezer cooking without adding a penny to your weekly grocery bill. And the stress that you save yourself as well as the money, makes it a total win!
What could you make extra batches of to put in your freezer this week without even going to the store? I’d love to hear in the comments below what your first freezer cooking session will be, or if you want to let us know once you’ve done it, that would be great too!