This is a post we pulled from the archives written by Krista and thought it would be a fun one to revisit as school is approaching in the Pacific Northwest. Wouldn’t a freezer full of meals be nice for those busy beginning-of-school days?
I am a wife and mother of three boys. One thing I’ve been doing for years to save money and time is what I call Freezer Dinners. When I first began doing Freezer Dinners I was not couponing, but now I am able to make meals for even less with my coupons! Here is the basics of what I do.
I invite 2-3 friends (no more than four in the kitchen becomes too many bodies!) and we decide on six recipes to make about every 6-8 weeks. I predominately use recipes from Don’t Panic – Dinner’s in the Freezer (Amazon) and Don’t Panic–More Dinner’s in the Freezer (Amazon). Other recipes include favorites from our own kitchen.
After compiling the ingredients for the six recipes, I categorize them according to meat, dairy, canned goods, vegetables, spices, and other. I then send out grocery lists for each person.
One person is usually in charge of meat and spices, another veggies, another canned goods, and another dairy for the entire group.
We use coupons as much as possible, including the $10 off $50 from Safeway that comes in the free Tuesday Food Day paper at the beginning of the month in the Portland Metro area. This coupon is often used to purchase the meat. We also get our meat in bulk from Zaycon Foods or GoDirect Foods. Both of these companies have ground beef, bacon, and chicken breast deliveries scheduled.
Any item that needs prepping is done beforehand (i.e. cheese grated, veggies chopped, meat browned, etc.) and brought the morning of cooking, saving everyone time during cooking day.
We meet at my house at 9: 00 am and lay out all our ingredients on a large table. We each bring freezer Ziploc bags (ones we have bought for free with coupons!) and glass dishes for lasagnas, enchiladas, etc. We also bring our grocery receipts to divide cost evenly.
After about three hours of cooking and preparation, we each go home with 6-12 meals (depending on size of each individual’s family).
Our cost is typically $50 – $60 for each family. Here’s a breakdown of our latest freezer dinner adventure:
Time: 1-3 hours to shop and prep + 3 hours to cook
Meals: 6-12 dinners using 6 recipes for each family
Total Cost per Person: $52.69
Cost per Recipe: $8.78
Cost per Serving (average of 4 servings per recipe): $2.20
I also make freezer lists of our meals to place on our fridge or calendar so we know what meals we have ready for our families to eat. I also print out labels that include how to prepare the meal and ideas for side dishes as all that needs to be added to each meal to make them complete is a veggie or fruit and side dish (pasta, potatoes, rice).
We’d love to hear from others who have teamed up with friends and/or family to hammer out freezer meals. What works and what doesn’t? Comment with your experience!
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