Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time and Money Saving Meals


Are you having a harder time than your kids getting back into an after school routine? Is dinner the last thing on your mind after a long day at work? Crystal Paine, aka The Money Saving Mom, offers money and time saving tips for keeping your family happily fed with healthy foods.

Even though I am childless, I may have to do break down and do some of these. I have no desire to cook when I turn off the computer for the day. 

Crystal is doing a whole series of freezer cooking posts this month at www.MoneySavingMom.com. Be sure to check them out!


Stock Your Freezer with Delicious Food
in Just an Hour Each Week

I don’t know about you, but there are some days at our home when life whizzes by so quickly. All of a sudden, it’s 5:00 PM and dinner isn’t even a figment of my imagination. For most people, the fallback is order takeout or grab something at the grocery store at the last minute.

But this is stressful and expensive, not to mention unhealthy. There must be a better solution!

For me, the solution to the 5 p.m. “What’s-For-Dinner” panic is called Freezer Cooking. If I forgot to pull something out from the freezer earlier in the day, I can just pick a meal from my freezer stash that defrosts quickly — such as meatballs.

I can pair this with some frozen veggies, rice, and maybe a fruit salad. No one even has to know I forgot about dinner until 30 minutes before it was supposed to happen!

When I first tried my hand at this thing called “freezer cooking”, I immediately fell in love with it. I spent less time in the kitchen cooking, I spent less time washing dishes, and I always had food at-the-ready.

In the beginning, I spent entire days in the kitchen, making dozens of meals over the course of a day or two. It was a beautiful thing to stock my freezer for the month -- in just the course of a number of hours.

But it was a big time commitment. And, as time marched on, our family grew, and the demands on my time increased.

As a result, I found that it was no longer quite as feasible to find big blocks of time in our schedule to do full day or half day cooking sessions.  I was so committed to freezer cooking that I determined to find a way to make it work.

After some contemplation, I decided to try doing mini half-hour or one-hour freezer cooking sessions once a week. To my delight, I found it worked wonderfully for us! It wasn’t too hard to find a shorter time slot each week to do some extra cooking and baking, it wasn’t exhausting like my marathon cooking sessions had been, and it was a lot easier to clean up from when I was done!

While I might not be making 20 or 30 meals at a time, by devoting an hour each week to cook food for the freezer, we always have some meals in the freezer for those busy days when I don’t have time or energy for cooking. And truly, I’ve been amazed at how much I can do in one hour of focused cooking in the kitchen!

No matter how busy you are, I’m positive you could find 30 minutes or an hour each week to cook or bake a few extra things to stick in your freezer. I promise the work will be every bit worth it -- especially the next time you realize that it’s 5 p.m. and you’ve don’t have anything planned for dinner!

Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, and author of The Money Saving Mom®’s Budget. Visit her blog, www.MoneySavingMom.com, for high-value coupons, online bargains, freebies, and practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order. Be sure to check out her Lunchbox Freezer Cooking series during the month of September. She’ll be sharing recipes, pictures, and tips as she cooks and bakes Lunchbox-Friendly food to store in her freezer.


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