Friday, June 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

That infamous question shouldn't be quite so least for a few weeks! 

$150 worth of groceries + 8 hours of cooking = 1 upside-down kitchen & 14+ meals in the freezer! 

I've been needing/wanting to do this for a while and Tuesday was finally the day! Getting dinner on the table every night or even just 3-4 nights a week is a big challenge for me with trying to balance work and school and everything in between. And I know it's going to be an even bigger hurdle come August when I add grading papers, etc. to the mix. 

So enter Once-a-Month Cooking. I found this little gem of a book hiding in the cabinet at my Dad's house, and his wife said I could borrow it.  It lays out everything you need--from shopping lists to the preparation order--to cook & freeze meals for either two weeks or a month at a time.  The book gives you three two-week plans and two one-month plans to choose from, along with side dish options. 

I chose one of the two-week plans...a) because this was my first time to try it and b) because I have limited freezer space.  I'm so glad I only did the two-week plan because it took me all day and I ended up with just enough freezer room!

So the freezer is stocked with:
Baked Jambalaya
Stuffed Pork Chops
Beef Goulash
Caraway Pot Roast (we already had this and I liked it, but Paul not so much.)
Taco Soup (we had this last night and both loved it--delish!)
Marinated Flank Steak
Cranberry Chicken
Twelve-Boy Curry
Sweet Soy Marinated Chicken
Chili Hamburgers
Karen's Barbecued Chicken
Fiesta Shrimp Dinner

(There was one recipe that didn't sound too good to me, Baked Tilapia in Spaghetti Sauce, so I didn't buy the fish and we just have extra spaghetti sauce. The recipe made a gallon!) 

Technically this meal plan should feed a family for two weeks, but it is definitely going to last longer for us since it's just the two of us. When you factor in that all of the dishes serve at least four people (many of them serve 8-12), we'll have leftovers, and I divided a few of the larger dishes before freezing them.

It's so convenient to have meals in the freezer to pull out when you have a hectic day. The hard work is already done--all you have left to do is toss a salad or whip up an easy side dish.  And not only will this make dinner time less stressful, it is definitely going to help us manage our grocery budget better! No more last minute trips to Kroger where I end up spending more than necessary because I don't have a plan. When I did all the shopping for these meals, I scanned sales ads, compared prices, and used coupons--took some time for sure, but definitely worth it and I won't have to do it again for a while. Bottom line: $150 groceries/14 meals = $10.67/meal (but its really less than that since I know we'll probably stretch it to about 20 meals).

It was a long day in the kitchen, but at dinner time on hectic days or when I have night class, I know I'll be glad I did it!

{If you're interested in trying this cooking-for-two-weeks deal, but want to see what it's really all about before you buy the book, (you can snag it on amazon for about 10 bucks), I'll be glad to email you a scanned copy of the plan I used. Just leave a comment :)} 


  1. me me me me!
    Please share with me and continue to let me know how you and Paul like the eats. With our schedule I really need to get back into the mix of planning meals AND having them precooked in the freezer would be even better. THANKS!

  2. Pretty neat idea.

    Kudos for taking a risk. I mean, are you sure Sunshine's delicate stomach and picky eating habits are going to go for that?

  3. Yes please! Just read this post and I would love some help in the "planning" dept. You are so smart!!!!

  4. @Mr. McGoo- haha!! Actually, he has liked most all of these meals so far. I think he is making progress. We at the Jambalaya (which had chopped onions and bell pepper in it) a couple of nights ago and he really liked it--he just said I can't look at it while I eat it. ha.

    @Erica- emailing you now :)

  5. alright - giving it a try this weekend. Kinda scared but looking forward to the full freezer & no excuse for eating out. ;)


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