It's time for another Bi-Weekly Meal Plan! I have been slacking in posting my meal plans regularly. This time I created a unique plan that uses up leftovers and makes use of the freezer. I have tried to take plenty of pictures to show how I prep for my meals after my big grocery shopping trip.
Some might think that shopping once every two weeks is difficult, but all you need to have is a plan. You need to freeze meat according to portion size, use produce wisely, and plan it all out ahead of time. Shopping every two weeks saves you so much money. When you go to the grocery store once or twice a week, you will spend more money on impulse buys, or buying without a list, therefore buying stuff you don't really need. I spend around $160-$180 every two weeks for my family of 4, and this is including paper products, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items. Sometime I need to figure out how much I spend on groceries only and share it with you.
So, lest I go on and on, I'll go ahead and share my menu plan with you and then I'll go through all that I did this yesterday and today to plan and prep the meals.
I found some great deals at Aldi this week! They had boneless chicken, skinless chicken breasts for $1.49/pound. That is the cheapest I have ever seen it. I bought 3 large packs of them. Then they had chicken legs marked down $1 off the entire package making those about $0.60/pound. They had their normal priced ground beef at $1.99 but had marked it down to $2.00 off the package. I ended up getting the ground beef for somewhere around $1.59/pound. Then Kroger had their pork loins on sale for $1.59/pound so I picked up 3 of those.
Don't you love it when can you can get awesome deals on meat??
So, obviously, I had a lot more work to do than I normally would after a normal two-week grocery shopping trip. But the process is still pretty much the same, but this time I had a lot more of it.
I ended up prepping meals for this week, but I will also have meals and lunches ready to pull out of the freezer for more than the next two weeks.
Here's my menu plan: (for more on my bi-weekly menu planning, read this and this post.) Just a reminder that these are not in any order. I pick and choose what I feel like eating that night, and sides are also whatever I feel like making.
Remember you can go HERE to print your free copy of my menu planning sheet!
1. Beef & Bean Burritos (Make full recipe and freeze half for another time) Taken from this e-book
2. Cheesy Pepperoni Pasta- Recipe from the same ebook as #1, but I'm only using some of the pasta sauce and freezing the rest.
3. Stuffed Peppers -Use the sauce from #2 and add rice.
4. Marinated Baked Chicken
5. Chicken Fried Rice -Use the any leftover chicken from #4
6. Homemade Pizza (Make a double batch of dough and freeze the extra dough.)
7. Pizza Cups (with extra batch of pizza dough in #6)
9. Pork BBQ sandwiches, coleslaw (use leftover shredded pork from #8)
10. Fried Pork Chops
12. Crustless Quiche, biscuits
13. Chicken Tacos (Freeze leftovers)
14. Hawaiian Pork with Rice (Freeze leftovers)
First up, the pork!
I had one pork loin sliced into pork chops. Do you know most grocery stores do this for free?
I wrapped them in parchment, then plastic wrap, then placed 5 pork chops each in a bag. 5 is about what our family will eat.
There are so many different meals you can make with boneless pork chops. And to think I got two meals worth of pork chops for $1.59/pound!
I froze one pork loin for the Shredded Pork, BBQ Pork Meals.
The other pork loin got thrown in the crock pot this morning for Hawaiian Pork!
Aldi had this packet of Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce for $1.99. Which is more than I would normally spend on a sauce, but since I'll be getting about 3 meals out of this, I decided to try it out. You can see the pork loin I used cost $4.58, add the sauce packet which was $1.99 totals to $6.57 or $2.19 each meal. Not too bad for an entree! Add rice and a veggie and you got a very frugal meal .
It was very good!
Two bags ready for the freezer.
I got a lot of meals out of this chicken!
As soon as I got home, I put two breasts, taco seasoning and some salsa in a slow cooker. Cooked them on high for 4 hours and I had some juicy chicken for tacos!
Salsa (This looks like a lot but I only had about 1/2 cup left in the container, but since so much sticks to the sides, I put a little water in the container and shook it and then poured it all in the crockpot. When you are freezing this taco chicken, I think it is better to have too much liquid than not enough. You can always drain some of the liquid out, but once it becomes dry, it's hard to work with!
Stick your cooked chicken in your Kitchen Aid with the dough hook....
...and in a few minutes you get this! It's the easiest way to shred chicken.
I ended up with 4 bags of shredded chicken with about 1 1/2-2 cups in each.
Next, prepared my marinated chicken. This chicken is used in two recipes. I bake it for one recipe and eat it just like that, and any leftovers go into chicken fried rice.
All you need for this recipe is 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup Italian dressing. Pour everything into a zipper freezer bag and coat well.
I used two chicken breasts but cut them up into smaller chunks. Our family will probably eat 1 1/2 chicken breasts.
When you are ready to bake, thaw and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt and 1/8 tsp onion powder and baking for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Any leftovers get diced and saved for chicken fried rice.
Next up is the ground beef. I bought this for about $1.59/pound. It was nearing it's sell by date so they had marked it down $2.00 off. I knew I'd have to cook and/or freeze as soon as I got home.
I used two large pans with 2 1/2 pounds in each.
One pan got taco seasoning.
One pan I made pasta sauce which simmered for about 30 minutes. I used veggies in this sauce like carrots, red peppers and onions. We have already used a little of this sauce and my daughters never found the carrots. :)
I changed it up a little but I used the recipe in the ebook link that I linked to in the menu plan, above. It was a very tasty sauce!
We used about 1 1/2 cups for supper that night and then I ended up with 4 bags with a 1 1/2 in each. I will use this in my Cheesy Pepperoni Pasta, stuffed peppers (just add rice) and maybe a quick spaghetti for lunch.
And for the taco meat, I packaged them up in 1 cup baggies. I can use these in my beef and bean burritos, taco salad, tacos, etc.
Finally done with the meat, I made a list of everything I had in the freezer, ready for meals. I froze the chicken legs just as they were. For the taco beef, chicken and pasta sauce, whenever I use a bag, I'll just mark off a number so I know how many bags are left. I can't let any of that food go to waste by forgetting about it! (This list doesn't have the Hawaiian pork on it yet.)
Just a few things to remember when freezing cooked food. Cool food completely first. Putting hot food in the freezer could cause contamination and cause other foods in there to get soft. Also, use freezer grade bags. You will see a couple times where I did not (like the taco ground beef) but then I place all the bags in a larger freezer grade bag and it provides extra protection, plus keeps all of the same food together.
I also prepared some strawberries and grapes. The strawberries were to eat right away (I have another pack that will go into some muffins) and the grapes I bag up into snack size portions so that we can grab and eat. My 2 year old LOVES grapes, so having them ready for snacks is so convenient. I have heard frozen grapes are really good, but have not tried them. Have you? Maybe I'll stick a bag in the freezer and try it out!
Aldi had these for $0.99/pound.
I believe I ended up with 13 bags of grapes about 15-20 per bag.
I still have MORE work to do this week! (insert exhausted face here.) I have two more trays of chicken breasts and I need to freeze some plain* for use in recipes like Chicken with cheese and bacon, Cracker Barrel Style Fried Chicken, etc. I also want to make a triple batch of homemade chicken nuggets and freeze them.
*To do this, I use one small bag for each breast and then put all the small bags into one big freezer bag. I usually only need one breast per meal.
I still need to cook my last pork loin for my shredded pork over mashed potatoes, and then freeze the rest for BBQ pork sandwiches and my Spicy Pork Soup. Shredding my meat allows it to stretch even further.
I'm also planning on making homemade pizza sometime in the next two weeks and when I do, half of my dough will get frozen for another use (like Pizza cups.)
So there you have it! I hope I inspired you to go find some cheap meat and start freezing! None of these recipes are hard or too time consuming.
I have a very small freezer and I am still able to do this for my family with careful packing and a little organization. It's going to be a big blessing in the month ahead! And I saved a lot of money! Do you do freezer cooking? What are some of your favorite freezer meals?