Freezer cooking is a wonderful tool to use to save money, spend less time in the kitchen, and create tasty healthy food. When I began freezer cooking, my world was turned upside down.
I found this little cookbook one fateful day at Barnes & Noble, and my cooking has never been the same! Freezer Cooking can take on many different methods and shapes, but the goal is simple: save time and money!
If you are just starting out with freezer cooking or are new to the concept, there are many different ways to freezer cook. There are also many reasons that people do freezer or once a month cooking, but the biggest one for me is that is saves me money!
When I intentionally plan my meals, do a one month meal plan, and then do one large grocery shop for the month, I save boatloads of money. Here’s why.
How to Save Money Freezer Cooking
1) Less Time in Stores
It has been proven to me time and again that the less time I spend in the grocery store and the fewer trips I make, the less money I spend.
If I stop in the store on my way home from work just to grab a few things, $50 later I’m walking out with non-necessities like English muffins, crackers, ice cream, frozen pizzas…you name it!
But if at the beginning of the month, I plan out a grocery shop and know exactly what I need to get, then I eliminate extra stops at the grocery store. I break down a list of what I need at the grocery store aisle by aisle. When I do a full month’s grocery shop all at once I don’t want to get anything extra. I want to do my shop as quickly as possible and get out of there.
So by doing one large shop I eliminate as much as possible extra non-essentials. This also allows me to just run into the store a couple times that month to pick up some fresh produce and that’s it.
No more wandering around the grocery store looking for things to buy!
2) Set a Budget BEFORE Going into the Stores
This helps so much. Before I even head into a grocery store when doing my once a month shop, I calculate my budget. Because I am buying almost all of my food at once, I know how much I can spend. I take our monthly shopping budget and use about 80-90% of it. I know I will need some fresh produce throughout the month so I leave a little bit of room.
I go to the bank before my big shop and pull out cash. So if I am going to spend $250 then I am going to pull that out in cash. This way I HAVE to stick to my budget. When I am in the store and see my favorite crackers on sale (I’m a sucker for crackers) it is so much easier for me to just say no when I HAVE to hit that budget number.
A good idea would be to ask your husband to keep you accountable on what you spend in the store if you are struggling to meet that budget and always throw in extra things. OR leave hubby and the kids at home so you have that many less hands throwing things into the cart as well.
3) Shop the Sales Ads
Once reason that I pull cash out to shop with is that I go to a few different stores to buy what I need at a good price.
The week leading up to my big shop I pull out all the weekly ads. I head to the meat sections first. I sift through all of them until I can find good priced chicken. Most of the time if I can hunt long enough (or I’m willing to watch the ads for a couple of weeks) I can find chicken for $0.99 /LB. And when you are buying 15-20 pounds at once, this makes a HUGE difference.
So I pick that store with the lowest chicken price (sometimes I have to go to $1.99/LB) and find what else they have on sale. I check out their produce and their other meat. I do the same with my other big items I need and hone it down to about 2-4 stores. I usually hit two regular grocery stores (like Albertsons and Safeway) and usually Costco and Trader Joe’s as well.
I save so much money doing it this way because then I get all my meat, produce and other big items for the LOWEST possible price. If I were to just stop in any store on my way home from work I’m likely to pay$4.99/LB for chicken and who knows what for produce.
By taking a little time and shopping at a few stores I can really cut down on my costs.
4) Cuts Down on Eating out
When I’m driving home from a long day at work with 30 minutes still ahead of me until I get home, the last thing I usually want to do
is stand in the kitchen for an hour and make dinner. I am usually pretty good at making sure to do grocery shopping over the weekend so we have fresh food in the fridge.
But then coming home and making it is another matter. Not to mention I’m usually starving when I get home at 6PM! I just want to eat. I don’t know how many times I’ve had dinner ready to be made in the fridge and I call hubby and ask him to pick up dinner at Chipotle for us (our favorite place to eat!!). We end up eating out and spending more money while we had fresh food in the fridge.
Having freezer meals pretty much eliminates this! In the morning (or the night before) I pull out of the freezer what we are go
ing to eat that night. On my way home I call hubby who gets home before me, to preheat the oven and get the food ready. With a couple simple steps that take him 5 minutes, a hot meal is ready or almost ready by the time I get home.
If I can deal with one tired day of cooking for 8-1o hours then I can enjoy the benefit of not having to cook every night which really helps us to stay away from fast food and restaurants.
5) Buy in Bulk
With just hubby and I in the house we often cannot buy things in bulk or they will spoil before we use them! I suspect the same will be true even when we have little kids. It won’t be until our kids are older that we can begin buying in bulk for everyday meals. But I have found that when I do freezer cooking I can buy in bulk!
Since I am doing one big shop for the entire month I can buy things like eggs in bulk because I am going to use them right away. Huge bags of spinach from Costco usually go bad before we can eat it all but with freezer cooking I am using it all at once.
I am able to save money by shopping at places like Sams Club and Costco and buying in bulk. I buy things like big packs of yogurt now too and freeze them! Now that I discovered freezer cooking, I freeze EVERYTHING!
So by planning it a little bit, shopping at a couple different stores, and sticking to your budget I know that you can save money doing freezer cooking! Do you have any tips or tricks for doing large shops? Please share!