Freezer Meal Planning

A  lone Christmas light peeking out of the snow

The festive lights along the railing are chilly and snow-covered. Its cold outside, but I’ve been busy inside trying to find ways to frugalize the grocery budget during the holidays.  With a little imagination and a well-stocked freezer, our bellies are full and our Christmas budget is going further.  A very merry occasion indeed!

When you have a family, buying groceries anytime of year is expensive.  This is even more true during the holidays.  Even if you’re a frugal shopper like me, all those special holiday meals and snacks increase the old grocery bill (and maybe your midsection).  I’ve found a great way to combat this – plan meals out of the freezer and pantry for a week or more.  This is a good idea anyway because 1) it allows you to clean out the clutter and use up things that may have been waiting around for a while to be eaten and 2) it  saves you a ton on groceries.

A Well-Stocked Freezer Save You Big-time!

I like to shop sales and stock up on things even if I won’t use them right away.  For example, when meat goes on sale, I will buy extra and put it in the freezer for later.  This allows me to buy at the cheapest price and skip it when its more expensive. This is true of other foods too and my pantry is full of great things.  Last week, I decided to put these goodies to good use.  I carefully went through my pantry and freezer, planning meals around what I had.  I couldn’t get away from shopping completely, but I didn’t need much.  My last post was an admission to being a bulk food hoarder, which provided quite a bit for my n0-grocery-shopping-week(s).

Drumroll For The Freezer Challenge Menu

Below is a list of what I came up with.  As you’ll see, we aren’t going hungry.  In fact, we’re eating really good meals.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

  • Pork chops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables
  • Spit pea soup and bread
  • Lasagna and salad
  •  Chicken enchiladas, rice and beans
  • Moroccan chickpea stew and pita bread
  • Beef roast, mashed potatoes and green beans
  • fettuccine alfredo with frozen peas and shrimp
  • White chicken chili
  • Spaghetti with Italian sausage and antipasto
  • Pinto bean soup and cornbread
  • Tamales with rice and beans
  • Roasted salmon, carrots and roasted potatoes
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Cuban black beans and rice

I have 14 meals planned out of mostly what I had left in my crisper, pantry and freezer!  I could easily add a few more things, but that would require a more extensive shopping trip for some fresh things. Notice that some are vegetarian dishes.  The best part of these meals is that I’m getting more than a single pass on some of them.  Quite a few provided tasty leftovers for lunches and leftover dinner nights.  Yah for not having to cook every night! So I actually have more than 14 meals here.

I have 3 teenage boys at home along with myself and my husband.  Our grocery bill can easily total $170, and that’s if  I’m being really careful.  That means these meals are “saving” us about $340 over the next two weeks. Of course, the ingredients had to be purchased at some point, but instead of full price, I got them on sale. This is really helpful to making our Christmas budget go further.

I Challenge You To A Frugal Food Duel!

I challenge you to see how creative you can be with meals by using what you already have.  When you start digging through the dark recesses of your freezer and pantry, it will be surprising how much is there!  I was able to do really well and there were no sad meals of spaghetti  O’s or ramen.  We had lots of great protein, legumes and vegetables.  I should mention that I had a delicious stash of granny smith apples too.  I paid a whopping 88 cents per pound for them.  Granny smith apples always seem to keep forever without getting mealy. They’re great if you want to buy fruit in advance when on sale. So, no worries, we have plenty of vitamin C and not a hint of scurvy!

Let me know what you come up with!