Thursday, January 9, 2014

Freezer Meals

Last week my friend came over so we could make some freezer meals. I don't do a ton of complete freezer meals, but I do a few things that help make dinner faster and easier. When my friend was here we made meatballs, cooked ground beef, shredded chicken and a freezer meal from THIS website. I gave my friend a list of dinners with recipes she could make easily by using her cooked ground beef, shredded chicken or the meatballs. When you cook meat and then freeze it, you save a ton of time when it comes to making dinner. I always have cooked ground beef and chicken in the freezer and I try and keep my pantry full of things I can use for casseroles, soups, chili, pasta dishes, etc. When I make my grocery list I first make a menu for that week and then make my list off of that. Lots of times I don't have to buy any meat or pantry items since I already have them. I also like to look for sales and buy lots of meat when it's on sale and then cook and freeze it (freeze in 2 cup portions) or make a freezer meal. Today I saw that chicken thighs were on sale at Smiths for 99 cents a pound. I LOVE chicken thighs because they are so cheap and I think they taste better than chicken breasts. Today I baked my chicken at 375 for an hour, covered. Once it's cooked the skin comes right off and the chicken just falls off the bone. I paid $5.76 for the chicken and I can make three meals from that as well as have enough for leftovers for lunch. Want to save money on ground beef? Smiths marks down their beef EVERY MORNING. Whatever they did not sale the day before gets marked down the next morning. It has to get marked down by 9 a.m. so go shopping early to get the good deals. My friend got ground beef for $1.99 a pound last week because she looked for the marked down packages. (They don't always have marked down beef - it's only if they don't sell it all the day before. Talk to the butcher at your favorite store and ask when they put out their marked down meat to get the best deals) I also keep lots of frozen veggies ready for side dishes and have chopped lettuce ready to make a quick salad for dinner. I buy a package of 3 Romain hearts at Smiths for $2.99. I wash and then chop the lettuce, place it in a ziplock bag with a paper towel and I have lettuce ready for salad or sandwiches all week long. I love adding chopped apples and dried cranberries to salads, or chopped dried apricots and croutons. And when it's all ready to go I'm more motivated to make a salad for lunch or dinner or to add lettuce to my sandwiches. I love cooking dinner for my family and with our schedules getting busy and me going back to work (yay!) it's nice to know I can do a little prep work ahead of time and keep dinner one of my favorite times of the day.

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