Planning meals ahead of time has quite a few other great benefits. First off, and my favorite reason, you don't have to stress when you get home from work in the evening and everyone's bombarding you with THE question: "What's for dinner?". How nice is it when you have an answer right away?!? How about those of you with special dietary restrictions? You can't exactly NOT plan if there are certain foods you can't eat.
My second favorite reason to plan meals in advance is money: If you plan meals around what you have on hand and what is on sale (especially if you price match and use coupons), you can save a LOT!! In fact, between using what I already have on hand and combining sales with coupons and only buying what I absolutely need, I spent $150 on groceries this past weekend. Over the next couple weeks, I'll only need to stop by the store for milk and lettuce for the nights we have salads on the side. Keep in mind, that amount includes buying an extra can of whatever here and there, extra bacon, extra chicken breasts, extra hamburger, a few staple items and bleach for laundry day. Oh, did I forget to mention- I feed 7 to 8 people dinner daily???
|While I try to bake some bread myself, I occasionally 'splurge' on store-bought bread!|
|Only two coupons this trip- usually there's more!|
So now that I've built up the suspense, are you ready to see what my family is eating for the next couple weeks? I promise, the following meals are sure to please just about everyone. My youngest son is one of the pickiest eaters I know, and the only meal I anticipate him having a cow about is the Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Chicken- only because there is meat and veggies touching. If your kids don't mind foods touching, and especially if they like foods that have flavor, you should have no problem with these meals!
In no particular order, here you go!
|Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup|
|Slow Cooker Ham & White Beans by Plainchicken.com|
|Honey Baked Ham|
|Ranch Parmesan Crusted Chicken|
|Chicken Tater Tot Casserole|
|Country Fried Hamburger Steak with Gravy|
|Super Slow Sloppy Joes|
|Oven Baked Meatball Sandwiches|
|Tex Mex Slow Cooker Chicken|
Meatloaf is one of those things you either love or hate. Luckily for me, everyone in the family loves it! Some like it drier than others, but that's part of the reason I like it- you can add more glaze on to each individual serving if you like it more moist, and if you like it dry, leave it alone! I know some of you might have a family recipe memorized, or you just throw stuff together based on what looks right- I can't do that most of the time. I have to have a recipe to follow. If you don't, do your own thing!
The next three meals don't have links to the recipes, but if you need a recipe to follow they are abundant online! The other three easy peasy meals include chili dogs, breakfast (biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs and bacon), and Chili Verde. The Chili Verde recipe I use is in a cookbook I have, Once A Month Cooking, that I was lucky enough to get from a friend for free, but is available for as little as a few dollars on Amazon.com. You could probably find it in the library as well!
I realize that not all of these meals are going to work great as freezer meals, but the few that can't be made ahead and frozen turn out to be pretty easy to throw together quickly and toss in the oven in a matter of minutes. In order to keep myself a little more organized and know quickly what I have ready and what I need, when I plan my meals, I write the recipes down on index cards. This makes it easy to form my grocery list, and when I need to know what meals I have to choose from, I simply flip through cards instead of digging around in the freezer or refrigerator. Once a meal has been cooked, I put the card in a different location with other used cards. Unless it was a new meal I hadn't made before and everyone hated it. In that case I toss the card in the trash, never to be seen again. Yeah, I've had to do that a time or two.
Let me know what your favorite freezer meals are, or if you have tips or tricks to your freezer cooking or any cooking for that matter- I'm sure I'm not the only one who's always looking for ways to make meals easier!