So I am not sure where my inspiration started but hubby and I have started to really try to stick to our food budget. It has been a good challenge for us. It has forced me to look at what we have on hand before shopping and really stick to a menu plan. We have also done this in an attempt to eat better, less processed and packaged food, and more homemade food. My friend Emily at Little Home introduced me to menu planning and she inspired me to eat better foods. So my idea I had been thinking about for a couple of weeks was to have a "cooking day" where I made a bunch of freezer friendly meals so I didn't have to cook as much. I am a decent cook and was taught to cook early on in life but honestly I don't enjoy it that much. Cooking is one of those things that is part of my job now. Then a couple of weeks ago our church announced it was going to host a cost saving workshop led by my friend Emily and her Husband. So I got really inspired to do my "cooking day."
This week I have been looking for good, freezer friendly meals that were fairly simple to cook, ie simple ingredients. I found the website Recipezaar which had a lot of ideas. I saved a bunch to the cookbook option on the website, had hubby pick a few he wanted to try. I then used the grocery shopping list option, checked my pantry for the items I already had on hand and finished my list. I had five recipes I was going to make: Sangria Chicken, Baked Ziti, One Dish Chicken and Bows, Baked Mac and Cheese, and Jambalaya. I set out with my list in hand yesterday afternoon to get my groceries. I hit Aldi with the goal to get most of my shopping done there. $89 later I had purchased a majority of my items needed plus a few extras, including a new reusable shopping bag. I then needed a few more items so I went to Price Chopper and spent another $39. I had everything to make these 5 recipes, most of which can be divided in two so I actually get 2 meals out of each recipe. I returned home proud of myself and proud of my full pantry.
This morning I attended the cost saving workshop, which energized me for my day. I started cooking at about 11:45 am. For those wondering, yes both my kids were at home, Georgia had gone down for a nap and Tristan had puzzles and coloring books at the kitchen table. By 1:30pm I had two dishes down for a total of 4 meals. I took a break to put Tristan down for his nap and feed Georgia. I was back on the cooking by 2pm. I was able to get 2 more recipes done by about 4pm. I stopped because I needed to get dinner done for tonight and the kids were ready for some mommy time. I left the Jambalaya for tomorrow. I have a total of 7 meals, one of which is going to a friend who is going to have her second baby this week. I figure I didn't do too bad for and afternoon at work. Now I will get a break from cooking, all I have to do is get a meal out of the freezer the evening before and pop it in the oven.
So this was my first adventure in make ahead cooking. If you want more info on my shopping list, what I had on hand and where my money was spent leave me a comment. I will be glad to give you all of the info.