Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meal planning with freezer cooking!

I have had a few people ask me about my freezer cooking, so I though a blog post was in order. The easiest way to tell everyone everything ;)

 Meal Planning.
This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. 
I never took the time to sit down and really do a "meal plan".
I have done meal planning in the past, where I would just write out what we were going to have each night for dinner and make my shopping list around that.
It really helped, especially with our budget.
Then, I'm not totally sure what happened but I stopped a few months ago.
Infact I would barely even write out a shopping list.
I would go to the grocery store hungry with no clue what we actually needed.
I never had a plan for dinner,
we ended up eating A LOT of frozen/boxed dinners
or going out to get something.
Once the 2nd week of January came it really hit me.
My work was closing January 18th and I'm going to be jobless. 
So we really need to start working more on our budget and ways that we can cut back
I started searching pinterest and other blogs to find some inspiration.
There are actually a lot of different blog posts I have come across that do this type of thing
but I didn't like some of the recipes, or the exact way they did everything,
so I decided to take bits of each, a recipe here and a recipe there, and make it work for my family.

I decided that I wanted to do the freezer crockpot meals. 

Its meal planning to the extreme ;)
The concept I keep getting, is one giant shopping trip, a few hours of prep, one mess and we can have nearly a month worth of dinners (and leftovers for lunch) with basically no prep time each night.
And as an added bonus, I make this myself so I get to choose exactly what I'm putting in our meals for our family. 

Unfortunately I don't have any real pictures to share :/ im sorry! But, thats what happens when you are computer-less. So I will just explain basically my process and then leave links to my favorite blog posts on the matter (she has lots and lots of pics!)
Also, the link to my recipes pinterest page can be found here. This is where I found most of my information and recipies.

I am not the most organized person in the world that is for sure, so I could have done a little better planning but for the most part it worked out great! And I know what I can do differently next time.

Step 1. Create a list of all the recipes you want. I chose some that were family recipes, and some that were new that sounded good. decide how many dinners you want. I started small and just did 16  meals (I ony chose 8 recipes, and doubled them to make 16 dinners..were only a family of three so 3 to 4 chicken breasts is enough for dinner and lunch the next day.)

step 2. Go through each recipe and write down everything for that recipe. Then once you get all of them listed you can compile a shopping trip list. This way it makes it easy to decide exactly how many of each item you need. (i.e. how many onions you need, or how many chicken breasts) Also be sure to write down any spices or extras you may need. Some you may already have in your cupboard so you can just cross them off.

Step 3. Make the official shopping list and try to group things in sections. I sectioned mine off into 3 catagories. "meats" "fruits and veggies" "other". That way I wouldn't be wondering around the store or forgetting something. This will be quite a big shopping trip but it will really save you so much time and money. Very worth it!

Step 4. When you get home put everything out on your counter/table. Dont put anything away. Start by chopping up all of your veggies and opening up any cans, and opening up the packages of meat so everything is ready to just grab and dump in your bags.

Step 5. ok....so this is where I think next time I will do this inbetween step 2 and 3, but if you had to buy your freezer bags at the store then this step will have to be done here. Label each freezer gallon bag with a permanent marker. Write whats is in the bag, the date, if you need to add in anything, and how long to cook it. (i.e. BBQ chicken, 1-29-13, add 1/4 cup bbq sauce, low 8 hours or high 4 hours, serve over rice)

Step 6. Start filling up your bags. I put meat in first, then veggies, then any sauces and spices. and then as your done put them in the freezer. VERY IMPORTANT lay each bag flat in the freezer. I had one bag fall down the back of my freezer shelf and it folded and came open :( my freezer smelled of delicious green chilli enchilada sauce!

step 7. I have found its better to take out the bag I want for dinner the next day and put it in the fridge over night, then the next day when Im ready I just take the bag out of the fridge and stick it in the crock pot and in a few hours dinner is done! Just like that. A few hours one day to save LOTS of time each day has helped so much. Most days im just frankly to lazy to prepare a nice dinner so this has been a blessing. I do sometiems have to make like rice or something but thats no big deal.

There are soo many types of meals you can make in your crock pot too! Pinterest is a great resouce. The reciepes we chose for our family this time were:
BBQ Chicken, Enchilada Chicken, Green Chilli Pork, Beef Tips and Veggies, Pesto Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Sausage and peppers, & lazagna.

 Ok, so after checking and reading LOTS of blogs my top favorite blog that I used most of the ideas from and a few of the recipes was
ring around the rosies
her blog is amazing and here is a link right to all her freezer cooking posts
ring around the rosies freezer cooking
She has a more simpliefied version, with lots of pictures.
And I don't know about you but pictures help me a ton!
She also has printable recipes that were so easy.
You can also do everything she does and she has a giant shoppin list already pre-made.
But like I said, we didn't like all of the recipes so I just used her posts as inspiration
and made my own.
She even does some freezable toddler meals!
You use a muffin tin to portion them out and then you have a toddler size portion ready to go,
just take out one (or two) and nuke them!
lunch is served.
I made Mac & Cheese and Strawberry Banana muffins.
Next time ill for sure be making the spaghetti and mini pizzas!
(I add a can of carrots and peas to my mac and cheese by the way)
I believe the toddler meals are under part 3.

So there ya go... thats what I did :) Remember to make it your own. You can choose whatever recipes you want and you can add whatever you want to each recipe. Or exclude things if you don't like them.
I also suggest doing less the first time around. Just to get the hang of it, and see if its something that will work for you familiy. Now that I know what is all involved next time ill aim to make a 30 dinners for a whole month!



  1. That is really great advice! Thank you for writing this post! I've really been wanting to do more freezer meals, so this has definitely inspired me.

  2. awesome idea,Great dinners every night, with hardly any prep time!!!

  3. I am pretty good at meal planning and have been pinning freezer meals like crazy! I really really need to set aside an afternoon and do this!! Great job!