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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Last Weekend's Freezer Cooking Session -- How It Turned Out!

Warning: Extremely Wordy Post Commencing (but complete with pictures, for those of you who prefer picture books over novels)...

Last weekend I tried out this thing called Freezer Cooking. I've always wanted to try it out, and I always used to get so jealous when I saw other blogging wives and moms partaking in the Freezer Cooking Blog Carnivals every so often. I thought to myself...If only I didn't have to work during the day...

Then last weekend, Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom decided to do a Freezer Cooking Session over the weekend. Did I already have way too much to do? Yes. W
as the house a disaster? Worse than ever. Was I stressed out enough without adding this to my plate? Definitely. But this was my chance to try it out! . . . So I did. =)

I made a menu planning goal of what I wanted to accomplish during the cooking session. I then proceeded to make a master list of all the ingredients we needed. Our pantry and freezer were quite empty after the Eat From The Pantry Challenge. Even the staples that we almost always have on hand were no where to be found. So, you guessed it...I had to make a Walmart trip (CRINGE).

Here is the picture of what I bought at the W store:

Total Cost: $35.92 (OUCH!)

Now that might not seem that bad, but it is terrible...considering our weekly grocery budget is $35!!! (And that's not even counting the Publix trip I made, which you'll see more of in the Super Savings Saturday post in a few minutes). I could have reduced the cost a bit with a few coupons, but I made this a hassle-free, no-coupons, quick-as-you-can-run-through-the-store trip. So yeah -- that's the damage, and you can see most of it is staple items (flour, spices, vanilla extract, foil, freezer bags, tomato paste and sauce, etc.).

Saturday morning I got up with the intentions of beginning my freezer cooking session in the wee hours of the morning (after going to Zumba workout, of course). I envisioned a simple 8 or 10 hour all-day session. Well, okay, let's just get to the point -- I am slightly OCD and could not start my freezer cooking until everything was perfectly in order. I would just be way too stressed out. I had to prep the environment for a relaxing cooking day. So...

After cleaning out the pantry and freezer...

And then cleaning the whole house...

And then doing the dishes to prepare my space...

And then hitting up Publix for my weekly grocery trip...

And then grabbing my once-a-week Diet Pepsi as a treat
(I know they're terrible for you, but I used to drink them almost every day, so I'm doing better at only drinking one a week! It's my one vice, and I enjoy it thoroughly. Oh, and I don't drink that entire huge cup. My husband just likes having these cups to mix his plaster in for his artwork)...

I finallllllly began cooking...!

You can see what I planned to make here. Here is what I actually ended up making:

I wanted to whip up a few meals for Kyle to have as lunches while at home working:

I also wanted to try out my newest bread machine that my sisters-in-law passed on to me. Let me just say I was ecstatic about this! I have been using a 1 lb bread machine that I picked up at a garage sale for only $10. Don't get me wrong -- it's been wonderful. But this new one is a 2 lb machine!!! It holds a lot more, so it's great for making big batches of dough, plus I can now make bigger loaves of bread when we have guests over. Check it out!

So with my new bread machine, I made some yummy breads:

I also baked up some other non-bread machine breads:
  • Alegheny Applesauce Bread
  • Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (pictured below)

Overall, I think I did pretty well! I made 10 different items all together -- 5 lunches/dinners (each of which will probably last a couple of meals) and 5 breads!

Here is a picture of my results:

So what do I think of freezer cooking? . . .

I really enjoyed it! It's definitely, without a doubt, a huge time-saver in the grand scheme of things. It has been really nice to have a stash in the freezer when we need it. This past week we grabbed some rolls to go with our soup, some french bread to go with our pasta, and some quesadillas one night when I didn't have time to cook. My husband has been popping muffins and cinnamon rolls in the oven/microwave each morning for a quick and easy breakfast (I haven't...too many calories for my weight loss plan!). It was extremely convenient!

As far as saving money, ehhhhh, I'm not so sure. I overspent like crazy for this freezer cooking weekend. Now part of that could be that I just came out of the Eat From The Pantry Challenge. Or it could be the fact that we were out of staple items (which we do make a Walmart trip every 2-3 months for these things). But all I know is that we spent way over our budget. Between Walmart and Publix this week, we spent $90!!!

I think it's easier to save money by shopping on a weekly basis. You can grab things that are on sale, pick up many items for free, and even plan your menus around the sales. So as far as doing this as a once-a-month cooking deal, I don't think it would ever be as budget-friendly as I would like it to be.

Having said that, it is a great thing to do every so often. I will probably start doing this with my breads about once a month, just to have some on hand. It's definitely nice to be able to pull a homemade loaf of bread out of the freezer and heat it up to go with a meal!

Also, I think once-a-month cooking would be great for a really large family who does not have time to use coupons. If you are not using coupons, this is definitely the way to go in regards to budget. You have everything planned out, you go with a list, and you get what you need. You don't go back to the store after that, so you're not impulse-buying each week.

Overall, I loved it, and will definitely be incorporating this technique into my cooking and budgeting each month from now on (just not quite on such a big scale). And next time I will be a bit more organized.

I plan on sharing some recipes over the next week or two, many of which will be from this freezer cooking session. So be looking for that! =)

What About You: Have you ever tried Freezer Cooking? What are your thoughts about it?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. Thanks for linking up with Friday Follow. I'm here to follow. Did I miss your followers widget? Happy weekend!

~ Lynn

February 6, 2010 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Haha, I just had to laugh at that first part about having everything just perfect! I am the same way. I am very OCD about certain things. Especially in the kitchen.

Anyways, I have never tried the freezer cooking but some day I probably will. I wonder if it would be better to buy the spices and things in bulk, like from BJ's or wherever? Hmmmm, I'll have to check their prices out next time I go.

I'll have to try out some of the bread recipes. I bought a nice Westbend bread machine at a yard sale for $2. Haven't tried it out yet, kinda scared to because I've never used one before. Guess I'll see...

And now your husband doesn't have to stand and stare at the pantry anymore!! Maybe I should try some of those snacks this week to keep my own hub happy (and full)!

February 7, 2010 at 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Stoney's Crew (Lori) said...

Hi, I just started blogging in response to women asking me how to make something seem effortless and yet work full time. I no longer work full time, but I still make chicken this way--OVERNIGHT! You will find the directions here:

(The first day of the blog was 2/1; and discusses my theory to adapt OAMC and work F/T without giving up my weekends!)

While working FT I adapted some of the OAMC ideas, but since I like to be more flexible than that, I will be sharing more ideas on how to get ahead of the game and still fix frugal and tasty meals utilizing the small pockets of time, perspective, and challenges a F/T mom has.

I am currently in a Chicken Challenge to see what all I can do with a single bird...and since I like to experiment, on occasion I will report a FLOP!

Of course, I had one last week! LOL! Live & Learn I guess!

February 8, 2010 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Very Cool! Thanks for sharing! =)

February 8, 2010 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Jeddie said...

Hey! Your cooking day looks like it turned out great! I think I might try this one of these days.

Also, I don't think you should be so self conscious about your wordiness or have to add a disclaimer... It's your style; work it! :) I think people will come to realize that that is your simply your way of explaining things, take it or leave it.

Personally, I like it, and I like how you put the important statements in bold for an easy read if I'm in a hurry!

Thanks meg! You rock!

February 8, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Haha! Thanks, girl. =)

I appreciate it!!!

Definitely try it! It was fun!

February 8, 2010 at 4:40 PM  

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