My Zaycon Foods Freezer Cooking Day!

Zaycon Foods 40 Lbs of Chicken

We make it a habit to buy our meat in bulk and prep all the meals at once so we always have a freezer full of homemade meals ready to go, because it saves us so much time and money!  Well I have only just recently been introduced to Zaycon Foods and a whole NEW way of buying meat, and I’m amazed at how much more money it can save us!

Zaycon Foods has a unique business model where they take orders for bulk packages of foods like chicken, beef, bacon or fresh seasonal fruit and they hold events around the country where you can pick up your order.  This chicken was delivered to me to try and review because Zaycon is planning an event in my area soon. 

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect because this was all new to me, but I couldn’t be more satisfied with the quality of the meat, the presentation, and the customer service. They only sell 100% natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artifical ingredients that comes directly from the farm and has never been frozen (I added the ice you see in the picture on prep day). The day this big huge box of chicken arrived I didn’t have time to do anything with it so I cleared a shelf in the frig and waited for the weekend. 

When Saturday rolled around hubby and I made quick work of cutting the chicken into appropriate size pieces for stir fry, fajitas and tenders then divided it into meal sized portions for our family of seven.  I had a bunch of marinades already in the stockpile, but I really like to make my own fajita marinade, and one of my favorite quick meal tips is to freeze the meat with the marinade in freezer bags so the meat marinates as it thaws which keeps it nice and tender.

The chicken breasts are really large so we took two of the four bags of chicken that came inside the larger sealed bag and cut them into long strips, or tenders, about three each per breast.  These we divided up into meal size portions and put half in freezer bags with garlic and herb marinade, and the other half in bags with lemon pepper marinade.  One of the remaining bags was cut into stir fry sized pieces and placed in freezer bags with a store bought Teriyaki sauce, and the final remaining bag was cut into fajita strips and put into bags with my fave homemade fajita sauce.

We tried the fajitas out for dinner last night and they were fabulous!  My favorite part though is the math.  The current price for the chicken is $1.59 per pound, or about $65 for this delivery.  We ended up with 23 entrees which equates to $2.83 for each meal, or about 40 cents per person!  Amazing! 

Garlic & Herb Chicken – 5

Lemon Pepper Chicken – 6

Teriyaki Stir Fry – 5

Fajitas – 7

I’m really looking forward to the next Zaycon Foods event near me, and I simply cannot wait for a beef (or bacon!) event. YUM!  Sign up today for free email alerts when Zaycon will have an event near you.

Disclosure – Zaycon Foods provided me with 40 pounds of fresh chicken for the purpose of facilitating this review, however all thoughts and comments are my own and I have received no other compensation for this post.

 

Fast and Furious Freezer Cooking

September and October have been super busy for us so we haven’t been able to do any freezer cooking in quite a while, luckily we already had a freezer full of homemade meals, but we’re down to having not much left in there at all – and of course all of the kid favorites are already gone.  We decided we’d better get a few meals thrown together before we get desperate so we took a part of a day over the weekend and made large batches of a few quick and easy recipes that we knew the kids would love.  I spent $65 on 20 pounds of meat – half ground beef and half top sirloin – and ended up with fifteen meals for the freezer:

Mongolian Beef (4)

Beef Fajitas (3)

BBQ Meatballs (3)

Italian Meatballs (3)

Hashbrown Casserole (2)

That’s just $4.33 for each meal for my family of seven, which equates to a whopping 62 cents per person.  We’re also planning to do a couple more recipe batches for the freezer to try to fill it back up including some more garlic bread (2 large loaves for $3 will make 4 meals worth for the freezer), and we’re going to do a pizza night next week and make a bunch of extra pizza dough to store in the freezer.

 

Freezer Cooking Round Two

Since we started planning our menu in advance about a month and a half ago, we’ve really enjoyed a lot let stress every day around dinner time and we no longer look at each other and hope it’s the others’ night to cook.  In an effort to create healthier meals for low cost and to make dinner time even easier around here, we decided to try our hand at freezer cooking where you prepare a bunch of meals in advance so you can basically just thaw, heat and eat.  I had no idea how many folks there are out there who actually do once a month cooking (OAMC) and spend a whole day cooking enough meals for the month until I started researching recipes for easy to freeze meals.  Wow – I think that’d be awesome to have your whole month’s cooking done all at once, but that’s way too intimidating for me (at least right now) since I haven’t had a full day to devote to anything for at least five years 😉  BUT I figured that if we could just pick say seven freezer friendly meals that we could double and get put together easily, then we’d have a couple weeks worth of meals without too much trouble.  Two weeks ago we had a “beef cooking day” where we completed 19 meals in about 5-6 hours from $75 worth of meat.  Yesterday was our “chicken cooking day” and I’m thrilled that we ended up with 17 chicken meals in the freezer using the 30 pounds of meat that we purchased from Sam’s Club for $45.

Once again, I selected a bunch of recipes from the “Frugal Mom’s Guide to Once a Month Cooking” (I bought this e-book for $12.95 and I highly recommend it!) and I got the Stuffed Shells recipe (pictured above) from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms:

We’re having the Stuffed Shells on Monday night and I can’t wait – they look scrumptious don’t they?  The original recipe called for a Rotisserie chicken but I got two whole chickens reduced to 69 cents/lb at Sam’s and I cooked one in the crockpot yesterday and there was enough meat from one to cover all four dishes so I decided to just go ahead and freeze the other whole chicken for another day.  This round also took about five hours (not including our America’s Got Talent break) but actually turned out to be a lot less labor intensive than the last round.  We’ll definitely be doing it again in a few more weeks!

 

First Round of Freezer Cooking

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 🙂