Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Frozen Meals: Homemade Version

I've been doing what I can to save money in the food department - since we're rebudgeting and cutting everywhere. Fun!

Actually, it is. It's like a game. My dear friend Jessie loaned me a book called Miserly Moms that has given me a lot of great ideas (as has Jessie), and I've gleaned what I can from a number of other friends as well. What I've learned so far? I can save a LOT more money than I thought.

For example, after my first round of grocery shopping to get started with this new "system," I've spent around $60 per week on groceries for a family of four (including house items like laundry deterrgent, diapers for baby, etc.). Incredible. I shudder to think of the money I've wasted over the years. I could have invested and been rich!

So, what am I doing (for starters)? Buying meat in bulk and making my own chicken broth and bread (Collin eats a LOT of bread), and eating vegetarian at least twice a week, and using less meat in meals in general (most of the time). It's amazing how simple it is.

First, I sat down and made a list of all the meals that I like to cook and that I can cook fairly easily (with "normal" ingredients). I came up with just under 40. Then I posted the list (organized into groups like beef, chicken, soup, vegetarian, etc.) on the fridge.

Second, I created a menu for the week to come. This was a Sunday night. It really didn't take long, and I can't believe I've not done this before. I posted this list on the fridge too.

The first thing I did was cook a whole chicken - the meat of which I'm still using (two weeks later) - then made broth out of the carcass and saved it in 2-cup portions in the freezer. By making meals that I can freeze half of, we practically cut our weekly budget in half. And I don't have to cook as much! Though I do love to cook, I also love the idea of only having to slice an avocado and some tomato from our dwindling garden while I throw my frozen pan of enchiladas in the oven. They're still homeade, and I don't have to spend an extra 45 minutes in the kitchen.

As far as non-dinner things go, Drue eats meat and cheese and fruit. I keep at least a box of some type of cracker around for snacks. She also loves my egg salad, which I've been making a huge batch of each week and eating on bread for lunch. Collin's lunches are fairly simple as well: a turkey sandwich and an apple with a bag of peanuts and Cheerios for a snack.

Breakfasts are PB toast for me and Drue and Grape Nuts and yogurt for Collin (Drue loves yogurt to). I've found a recipe for homeade Grape Nuts, which should save us some dough. And I'm really enjoying baking bread each week. Buy one cheap bag of flour and a jar of yeast, and you've got bread for weeks!

Fun times in the Barnes Kitchen.


Jessie said...

Oh, hooray! I'm glad to hear it's going so well!

Also -- you're alive! It's weird not seeing you on Twitter.

Jenny said...

Making your own yogurt is pretty easy, too, if you're not already doing it...

aprilspencer said...

I'm inspired by your ability to come up with 40 meals and by how much you are spending now! I'd like to see the meal list, if you feel like sharing.
Also, who has this book now? Keely? Can I take a look next?