Today, I spent just $173 on (roughly) 18 meals for my family of 4.
Before I share exactly how today went down -with the list, recipes, and what extras I got that added to the overall total, you should know that I buy in bulk when I can. This goes for spices, noodles, meats (I also get the reduced price meat when available because it will go in freezer bags anyways, just check expiration dates and be sure to use it before then), toiletries, etc. This means that I had a lot of the recipe ingredients already in my pantry or fridge.
I cannot coupon to save my life. I just wasn’t meant to be that kind of mom and that’s ok. So, if you know how to do that, go get those extra savings!
Before I go shopping, I write out the meals. Much like the menu you see above, only on a scrap piece of paper along side my soon to be grocery list.
I get out all my cookbooks, have my phone on hand for google, scrap paper, pen, and then ask my family for one specific meal each that they would like before I make them eat all the healthy things.
I also take into account if we are going to want to have something quick and easy on a particularly busy day and plan accordingly. So, days we have things like the requested hot dogs or pizza, are days we have appointments or lots of activities to attend. While crock pot freezer meals DO make things easier for meal prepping, sometimes my fridge doesn’t like to defrost over night like most. And like any mom, especially while pregnant, I’m bound to forget to pull a meal out a few days ahead of time. So, I also make sure the menu is flexible with these rare “unhealthy” choices.
For specific freezer crockpot meals, I use this site: https://www.stockpilingmoms.com/20-freezer-meals-in-4-hours/
and this site: https://www.sidetrackedsarah.com/freezer-to-slow-cooker/
Other recipes, I can now adapt into frozen meals by following the sites’ above recommendations for freezing. So, if you have time, definitely read through them.
For the menu I put together for the rest of July for MY family, here is my specific grocery list:
- toilet paper -12 rolls
- paper towels -6 rolls
- feminine products
- milk, 1 gallon
- bread, 2 loaves
- 1.5 lbs of ground beef (reduced meat section)
- sour cream
- 2 lbs of steak tenderloin
- 3 lbs of boneless pork chops (reduced meat section)
- 4 ears of corn
- a 5 lb chicken
- 4 large regular potatoes
- 3 bell peppers
- provolone cheese
- hoagie buns
- 1/2 lb ham
- 1 small onion
- chicken broth
- egg noodles
- alfredo sauce
- 2 zucchinis
- hot dogs and buns
- juice boxes
- spaghetti sauce and noodles
- garlic bread
- tomato soup
- american cheese slices
- 5 lbs of boneless chicken breasts
Extras I picked up in store:
- bushel of apples
- cinnamon bagels
- a lunch-able for lillie because her auntie got one
- and applesauce cups
FRUGAL TIP: I buy store brands when I can, as well. I know, I KNOW. Some items just don’t taste the same. If you’re willing to spend more on the name brand, go for it, but be sure to budget that extra into your monthly spending. It does add up.
This specific list cost me $172.80. FOR 18 MEALS. DISCLAIMER: it might cost you more or even less if you live in another state (I live in Idaho). It also depends on what else you would need regarding ingredients for your recipes. Like I said, I had extra bulk items in my pantry, too. Like onions and another potato, some sauce from last week, a box left from bulk buying of mac and cheese (I bought two months ago) etc.
Now, you’ve checked out and got the groceries home. What now?
Time to prep. Take an hour or two to do this. It’s a lot of work for minimal effort for the next two weeks, I promise.
If you look at my menu, I have some items that require the bread toward the end of the two weeks. I freeze bread as it is, too. I pull it out as needed and it takes maybe 30 minutes to defrost on the counter and is ready to go.
Here’s what I did:
- pizza, lasagna, garlic bread, and all other fresh bread went straight to the freezer.
- cans, broths, noodles, etc. went straight to the pantry.
- dairy items were placed in their spots in the fridge
- now I took time to go through each meal and start freezer bags.
-since tacos and spaghetti require ground beef, I separate the ground beef (more than half for tacos, the rest for spaghetti). I put the taco seasoning in the freezer bag with the seasoning, and the spaghetti sauce with the designated meat and mix it together. (spaghetti meat with sauce can cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours and be completely ready to go) (I just cook up the taco meat the night of and add 1/4 cup of water -still this saves time for me)
– beef and broccli stir fry, I slice up the beef into bite size strips and freeze it with the broccoli and spices/ingredients.
-I mix the honey mustard ingredients up for the boneless pork chops, these are pan seared and baked, so I freeze them seperately for better defrost time. I also shuck the corn and freeze them.
-chili roasted chicken is baked, too. But I combine the spices and chicken breasts and freeze. I also skin and slice up the potatoes and freeze them.
I did this with every meal. If it requires noodles, the noodles do need to be cooked the night of. I tried to precook and freeze noodles once… please heed my warning, they were awful and mushy when I used them.
I don’t have links for every recipe on my menu, some were from my cookbooks, but here is a list of the ones I do have for those that would like to try them.
I hope this helps with frugality, time, and peace of mind. I’ve been doing freezer meals for the last month or so and it’s been so helpful. If you have specific questions that I may not have answered, please email me: email@example.com and I’ll try to help in any way I can.