This month my focus is on building my 90 day supply of food, with freezer meals!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Smoothies -

It really bothers me that I have so many vegetables in our food storage, but hardly any fruit, besides extremely processed stuff.
So, I picked up lots of strawberries on sale for $1 a pound, TONS of bananas and some blackberries too (also on sale $1 a 8 oz. container). Then I simply pureed the fruit. 3 cups of fruit per baggie should be enough to make 6 smoothies for the family.
I used banana for half of the fruit in each batch, then half blackberries/half strawberries for some, and then half bananas/half strawberries for the others. Out of about $16 worth of fruit I was able to get 24 bags of pre-pureed fruit. About $0.67 of fruit per batch of smoothies (or about 11 cents per serving), and now we have strawberries even on weeks when it's not on sale. Not a bad deal to me! :) I used freezer bags & have tested it since & they did well.
I was going to add yogurt, but I wasn't sure how well it would freeze & I have more than enough dry powdered milk to make yogurt if we were in a dire emergency.
Now to find other non-sugary ideas for fruit in our 90 day supply. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How do you store your food? Part 3

This is a little more fun of an idea. We are trying to keep a 90 day supply of cereal in the house, but we can go thru a lot of cereal each week. And we would have a million random boxes of cereal all around. Then, a candy company in the same business complex by my husband's work in Nevada went under. And they were allowing people to come thru and take what they wanted. This was his idea, to use the candy dispensers for cereal! It's great having a home for them, and it eliminated a lot of clutter & mess, while allowing the kids to have a lot of options. About two boxes of cereal fit into each container.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Last Minute Dinner

So last night is a perfect example of why I am determined to make more & more freezer meals. I've been busy getting ready for a craft fair next weekend, and realized about 3:00 that I had nothing for dinner.
So, I pulled out a frozen meatloaf (and just cooked it longer in the oven), and then thought about it, and grabbed some frozen veggies & made some stove top from our food storage. Then, to finish off the meal, I made defrosted some rolls and then lightly warmed them in the oven right before dinner.
5 minutes of work on a stressful day and we still had a really nice dinner too! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Cookie Dough -

So pretty much every cookie dough seems to freeze well. So, I've been randomly making a double batch of cookies, and freezing half of it. I usually only use half the recommended amount of chocolate chips, so a double batch means that I use up a whole bag, but don't have a million cookies sitting around to tempt me. I freeze them in rolls. And having random chocolate cookies waiting for me on a bad day is so, so good.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Freezer Cooking - PB & J -

Mornings are hectic. I don't care if you have kids or not ... they are crazy! So, I ran across a good idea a while ago and it's really worked well.
Smuckers Uncrustables are $2.16 at our local Wal-Mart. And that's only 4 sandwiches, so $0.54 each, and with four kids now able to eat them for lunch, they wouldn't last long. So, I've started doing something else instead. Freezing a regular PB & J for them, which isn't technically cooking ... but it's still bulk preparation.
Just put a slight slathering of the peanut butter on both sides of the bread, and then the jelly in-between. Then freeze! When you place it in their lunch, it will completely defrost by lunch and the peanut butter stops the jelly from making the sandwich all soggy. I can fit 16 in the side compartment of the freezer, and it makes the mornings so much easier on the busy days. :)
Cost Breakdown: 1 loaf of bread ($1), 1/4 of a peanut butter jar ($0.25 - I buy mine at $1 each when they are on sale), 1/2 of freezer jam ($0.50 - or round abouts) - $1.75 for 10 sandwiches, or $0.175 each! That's about a $0.36 savings for each sandwich, or $1.44 each time that I feed my kids these for lunch ... yeah! :)
As a side note, I made homemade freezer jam for these & my son has been begging for them every day as a result!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Corn Dog Muffins -

This week I wanted to focus on building up my lunch items. It's easy to make something for the kids for lunch, and then to double-triple-or even quadruple the recipe (or in this particular case, 8). It looked funny in the picture, but I thought the kids might like it, and it would be a lot cheaper than buying corn dogs for the kids.

When I buy corn dogs, it comes out to be about $1.16 per lunch. And I had all the ingredients on-hand already. So, we decided to try these corn dog muffins.

Here's the cost break down: $0.59 for eggs (purchased at $0.88 a dozen for Easter), $4 for jiffy mix (bought at $0.50 a box at the case lot sale), $1.76 for hot dogs (2 packages), and I have absolutely no idea what the milk cost (I used the pre-mixed food storage milk). So, around $6.35 for about 15 lunches. Or $0.42 a lunch, versus $1.16 a lunch buying the pre-made corn dogs. It would have cost $17.50 for just as many of the pre-made corn dogs in the freezer.

$11.15 in savings may not seem like much, but those kind of savings really add up. And my son told me they were super yummy ... definitely not my kind of lunch preference, but they like it. :) And it's a nice mix up from the mac n' cheese or pb&j lunches they normally get.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How do you store your food? Part 2

I already posted how I like buckets. It seems like a larger amount of money at first, but it's almost the exact same cost as the #10 cans, but it's a one time only cost. But, as we've been collecting more and more buckets, we realized we needed to be creative with our storage ideas. We lived in a 1400 sq. ft. home in Vegas. And my daughter's bed was tall enough to put buckets underneath (we were able to fit 18). And then we decided we need to come up with more ideas. Our bedroom needed some end tables, so we placed them four on the bottom & four on top. It made a nice side table height. Then my husband measured across & made a square top. We were worried about the kids being able to play with them, so we put wood all along to create a box top. It was around $40 for the wood for both tops. Then we staple gunned the fabric around to create a pleated look with some decorator fabric I got for $3 a yard at Home Fabric in Henderson (I really, really, really miss that fabric store).
In our new home we've placed those as side tables in the baby's room (they won't fit in the tiny bedroom we're using now). Between the two side tables it gave a home for 16 more buckets. Now that we've been filling more buckets, we're trying to come up with another idea for creative storage again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Morning Hot Pockets -

With so many small kids up during all hours of the night, and then begging Daddy for attention in the morning, there usually isn't a lot of time for my husband to have breakfast.

Then while researching I found this post about making breakfast hot pockets.

So I made a double batch of the honey oatmeal bread dough for the outer part of the hot pockets and got enough supplies to make 45 hot pockets.

Eggs were on sale for $0.88 a dozen & I had bought 10 of them (we can eat a dozen for breakfast ... I wasn't worried). So it used 4 dozen eggs ($3.52), 3 packages of bacon ($4.47) & 1 pound of cheese ($2.50). I am not even going to attempt to figure out what the dough costs, but I'd be surprised if it was more than $2. So, for about $12.49 I was able to make 45 morning hot pockets for my husband to grab when he's in a hurry. That comes out to be a little less than $0.28 each ... not bad for the piece of mind it gives! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Meatloaf -

I've tried lots of meatloaf recipes, but this is by far my favorite. Five simple ingredients. I mix all the ingredients and shape them in a bread pan before freezing. I don't cook it until it's actual time for dinner. Super Yum!


1 pkg. stove top stuffing mix
1 egg
1/3 c. water
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. salsa

Combine dry stuffing mix with egg, salsa and water. Add ground beef and mix well. put in a loaf pan, to shape it. Wrap well and freeze.

To de-frost:
Place in the fridge to defrost the night prior. When time to cook, place in a bread loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Baked Ziti -

This week I want to focus on more freezer dinners. It's going to be cold for the next few days, so it's the perfect time to not leave the house & use my oven (once June hits ... the oven will NOT be turned on again for the summer time).
So, this was today's addition to our freezer.
Baked Ziti. Using all food storage ingredients we already had on hand (and I used dehydrated onion instead of the fresh onion ... fresh onions are way too expensive here!). It was a lot yummier than I thought it would be, the kids all went back for seconds.
I tried a single batch of it before I did the bulk cooking & freezing. I was worried 8 oz. of pasta wouldn't be enough, but about a third of a large lasagna pan went in the fridge for leftovers.
So I made enough for four more dinners, and put them in my freezer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Freezer Cooking - Toddler French Toast Sticks -

So having all the rolls is nice ... but it takes up way too much freezer space! I'm lucky because we have a small little freezer above our fridge, and a large deep freezer. All the rolls took up an entire section though! Definitely going with thinner ideas from now on.
I found today's recipe and knew it would be perfect. French toast sticks! I wish I could buy expensive, pre-made french toast sticks for my kids. But, they are very expensive & with four kids eating them, they really go fast! And with a almost one year old, these are the perfect finger food for him. My older kids each ate 5 french toast sticks, and the baby ate 3. So 18 sticks or 6 slices of bread make a meal for us.

We tried a small batch of the toddler french toast sticks (using pumpkin puree that I had from thanksgiving). The kids loved them & were all begging for more.

The cost breakdown? I doubled the recipe to make about 9 meals (one this morning & 8 more frozen) & took about an hour and a half. It used less than a quarter of pumpkin puree that I got for $1 ($0.25), 18 eggs ($1.18), 2 loaves of bread ($3.59), 1 stick of butter ($0.14) and almost 3 cups of milk (I used the food storage milk I keep pre-mixed in my fridge). So, $5.16 for 9 meals, or $0.58 each time, for four kids. And they all were a lot fuller & weren't scavenging for food as usual. :)
Sorry for the bad picture, I forgot to take one until they were all scrunched up.

Here's my take on her recipe for Toddler French Toast Sticks:

30 slices of whole wheat bread
1/4 c. butter, melted
8 eggs
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. pumpkin puree

Mix all ingredients except the bread together in a bowl. Take all your bread and cut it into thirds. Heat a griddle and dip the bread into the egg mixture to coat it and cook on the griddle. Flip over once one side is brown & make sure both sides are fully cooked. Place finished bread on cookie sheet, keep separated & allow to cool completely. Once completely cooled, place cookie sheet in the freezer. Flash freeze the toast sticks for 30 minutes. (The flash freezing allows the food to start to freeze, so when you place them in a bag they won't stick together). Remove from cookie sheet and place in a freezer bag. Freeze until ready to use. To warm up: microwave 30 - 45 seconds.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Goal for April

So, I was going to focus on beans this month. But, an event yesterday got me thinking in a different route. I bargain shop, a lot. I have a large variety of random things in my home & in our food storage. But, we're running low on meat right now, because there hasn't been a great meat sale lately. Well, yesterday I got a phone call that put me into a panic. One of my visiting teaching gal's sons fell & broke his arm and was in the hospital having surgery ... so they were asking me to bring dinner. And you know how you want to bring a really great meal at those times? Well, I didn't really have anything "great" to offer.
Which got me thinking about my 90 day supply and how to better be prepared for those moments ... and for the moments when my son has a last minute book report to make, or life doesn't go as smoothly as I think it will.
I had read about freezer cooking before, but this month I'm going to work on it & build a better stash of ready to cook meals. I already buy hamburger in large quantities when it's on sale for $1 a pound, cook it and then bag it. And I also always make a few (usually 5 or 6) meatloafs at that same time.
But for myself, bulk cooking & freezing would work wonderfully for those last minute, unexpected moments ... or for the moments when I'm too busy doing nothing to want to worry about dinner. :)
I can't do that once a month cook fest (I have a family to take care of), and that would mean either bulk buying at HUGE quantities to keep a 90 day supply on hand. So, I'm going to focus on making huge batches of something each day.
Today, I made rolls. LOTS of them. I made 3 dozen honey whole wheat rolls, and then took that dough and also made 2 loaves of homemade bread to freeze as well. And then I made 5 dozen of these delicious sweet rolls. The sweet rolls are a family favorite that I'll make on Sunday's in my bread machine (set to the dough setting) while we're at church. The kids were literally jumping up and down they were so excited to get some (we'll definitely be having these for Easter).
If you're interested in bulk cooking or wondering if anyone has any good tips, I found this post helpful.