I’ve slowly realized the difference between a ‘Working Mom’ and a ‘Mom on a Budget’ is honestly, nothing. Well, at least for me there’s not!!
When I was working, I hated thinking about “What’s for dinner?!” The thought of planning a weeks worth of meals and then rummaging through a grocery store, usually on a Sunday night, stressed me out and was NEVER any fun!
Now that I’m not working 8-4, I can at least go to the grocery store during the day, when Praise the Lord, a Car Cart is available!!
But, I still HATE thinking about, “What’s for dinner?” and now even, “What’s for lunch!” AHH!!
I used to plan meals for 2 weeks, buy everything at once, and then just make trips for milk. It usually worked- except when produce went bad or our schedules got busy and we didn’t eat what we had planned. So I’ve had to make a few adjustments, and truthfully I’m still learning what best works for our family on our new venture. (And still taking TIPS!!)
Enter, freezer cooking! I posted this picture on my FB and got a lot of questions. So I figured I’d share, although it may not be much.
I was able to make 30 meals for under $200! Actually, there are 15 meals, I just doubled each. Seeing as I had been going to the store more than weekly and coming home with a weekly bill of about that, this made me (and my hubby) very happy. Hopefully now, I can just think about what’s for lunch and go to the store for just the weekly refills!
I’ve done this before, and don’t claim to be a ‘foodie’ by any stretch of the word. But here are some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past:
- Mistake #1: Making meals I’ve never had before: I’d find blogs through pinterest with the grocery list already created. I’d think, “Easy!” and off to the store I went. The problem was- lot’s of those meals I didn’t like or my family didn’t like. So it turned into a waste of time and money.
- Mistake #2: Buying ingredients I’ll never use again. For example, Worcestershire Sauce. The bottle is huge, cost like 3+bucks, and I only needed a teaspoon. Then it sat in my fridge- unused until I threw it out. Wasteful! It’s also a waste of time at the store. One recipe called for Liquid Smoke. I had no idea what that was (still don’t!), so I spent way too long searching the store trying to find it, before I finally said, “Screw It!”
- Mistake #3: Choosing meals with too wide variety of ingredients. It takes way too long to assemble if there are too many differing ingredients. Not to mention, the more you buy, the more it costs.
- Mistake #4: Beginning Assembly late at night! The first time I did this, I started after the boys were in bed. My husband stepped in to help, thankfully, but we were both up past 11 that night. This time, I started early. And took breaks as needed to fulfill “Mommy duties!”
So here’s my suggestions:
- Make meals you like.
- Pick a couple of easy recipes. My easy ones: Pork Chops, cream of chicken and Ranch Mix. Also, Pork Ribs, BBQ and Brown sugar. Quick and Easy!
- Double recipes. Gives you two meals but you only shop once.
- Write the ingredients on a frozen ziplock baggie before you start.
- Buy a bigger size and measure out. Lots of my recipes asked for 8oz Tomato Sauce or a 10oz can of Cream of Chicken. Instead of buying individual size cans, I bought the larger ones and then just measured out the ounces I needed. This was cheeper.
- Buy generic- but not meat. I bought all Fareway brand canned goods, and generic everything else. I went to Fareway for the meat- because I know it’s good. Once while shopping at Aldi’s, I used their prepackaged meat. It wasn’t good- we threw it out.
- Frozen over Canned Veggies. If I can’t buy it fresh- I buy frozen. Healthier choice.
- Croc Pots are wonderful! And I’m learning that anything can be made in them 🙂
- Substitutions: I am SO not well versed on what ingredients can sub for others. I wish I were, then I could say, “Oh look, this is on sale, I can use this instead of _____.” But I’m not- if you are go for it! You’ll save more money than me! The one I made was a BBQ rib recipe. It had all the ingredients to make authentic BBQ sauce (hence the liquid smoke). I decided, I’m just going to use BBQ sauce. Easier to prepare, less ingredients to store, and I already had BBQ sauce at home!
Below are the resources I used- I hope they help. I’m no expert, I honestly wish I knew more, and even wish I enjoyed cooking just a tad more 🙂 Regardless, I am just a mom. And working or not, budgeting or not, we’re all just doing our best! Happy Planning and Please post any suggestions or helpful tips you may have! -Erica
How I started:
I picked the meals I liked, copied the recipes onto a document, made my grocery list, went shopping. I then wrote my meal titles, ingredients, and preparation directions on each freezer bag with a sharpie. Then I peeled, chopped, and filled.
Meal Planning copy: Here’s my recipes. I apologize for not making the document “pretty!” I literally copied and pasted from the following:
Meal Planning Link: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/12/fresh-food-friday-20-tried-and-true.html
Meal Planning Link: http://lovingmynest.com/learning-activities/cooking/freezer-crock-pot-recipes/
Chicken Tortilla Soup: http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2012/09/slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup/
Beef and Broccoli: http://www.bsrecipe.blogspot.com/2012/04/crock-pot-beef-and-broccoli.html
Another resource I use a lot for healthy and helpful tips is the site of my friend Sara: http://www.sarabconsulting.com