We’re really lucky that my mom, mother-in-law and aunt all help us out a great deal with our five kids (4 year old BBGG quads and 5 year old son) but because we live in different neighboring cities it seems like we live in the car most days. Since our meals tend to be eaten on the run, or we just sort of graze if the children are gone, dinnertime around here can be pretty disorganized and even stressful. The quads will be starting pre-k this fall and with all of the kids in school I’m afraid that the running might get worse instead of better so we decided we’d better get organized and come up with a solution.
The first thing we did was a freezer inventory. We have a large chest style freezer in the garage and at least a couple of times a week you could find me or my husband standing over with the lid open waiting for supper to just jump out. We really had no idea what all was in there so we grabbed a couple of large cardboard boxes and emptied the freezer. Of course we had to get rid of a few things that were old or freezer burned, but we made a list of everything else and put it back in the freezer.
The next step was to come up with a menu plan that would help use up the food in the freezer. Amazingly, we’ve been able to eat for about three weeks without buying any meat (other than some lunchmeat) and the grocery bills have been lower than ever for the past month 😉 The BEST part though has been knowing in advance what’s on the menu for the day. My husband was a little skeptical at first that we’d be able to stick to it but he’s really on board now that dinner time has become so much more relaxed around here.
I’d been reading about once a month cooking (OAMC) where people actually set aside one day a month to cook and freeze their meals for the whole month. With our crazy schedules and exactly no “free” or “extra” time I was pretty intimidated at the thought of making 30 meals in one day so I decided to break it down and try to make it as easy as possible to get started with some freezer cooking because the thought of just taking supper out of the freezer and popping a homemade meal right into the oven sounds AWESOME to me.
The plan we came up with was to cook for half the month, then do it again in a couple of weeks. We picked just eight beef recipes and doubled them in an effort to keep it simple for us beginners, and then we’ll pick chicken recipes for next time. Here are the recipes we’ve been making today, most are from the “Frugal Mom’s Guide to Once a Month Cooking” (I bought this e-book for $12.95 and I highly recommend it!):
- Cheddar Sliders
- Hash Brown Casserole
- Beef Manicotti
- Beef Fajitas
- Mongolian Beef
- Italian Meatballs
- BBQ Meatballs
- Crock Pot Beef
- Marinated Steak
We bought $75 worth of meat at Sam’s Club yesterday (7 lbs bottom round steak, 2 lbs eye round, 4 lbs stew meat, 18 lbs hamburger) and actually ended up with a few more meals than we’d planned. We only needed 15 pounds of hamburger but the packages were six pounds each so we made extra meatballs – the kids are big fans of spaghetti and meatballs so that will work out great for us. I’m super excited (and so not hungry!) now that we’ve got a freezer full of home cooked meals that are ready to go 🙂