Sunday, May 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking and All that Jazz!

I love to cook, but it's not the culinary affair it once was. If I try to make dinner before the baby's in bed, I have to accept that all the potholders, 7,000 straws, and a few tupperware lids will be strewn about the kitchen floor, not to mention that my giant of a 19-month-old is tall enough to reach the water dispenser in the door of the fridge. Oh joy, a puddle. So, please don't imagine me in heels and pearls, and please don't judge me if you sometime find a dried up macaroni noodle or an onion skin stuck to your foot after walking in my kitchen.
Now, being a couponer, I've found many ways to cut the cost of my meals, and even make them more convenient by doing freezer meals and using the crockpot. Lately, I've really been focusing on "clean" eating, meaning that all our carbs are coming from plants sources like oats, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. I'm big-time upping the produce intake and virtually eliminating processed foods like breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, etc.. Sounds impossible to do on a budget with a baby underfoot, right?
Not. At. All.
It's all in the research, people. Pinterest has been a great source for me to find recipes that fit in with our eating guidelines. These are the recipes that we've tried so far and liked:
(Psst! They are all made in the crockpot! That's right, just dump it in the day of!)

Chicken Curry
BBQ Chicken
Chicken Fajitas
Savory Chicken
Teriyaki Chicken
And one non-crockpot, but still convenient....
Ground Meat Mexican Style (I make this with lean ground turkey and serve it with black beans and salad greens, but it's also great in burritos!)

It's important to note that it's YOUR family, so do make what you like, keep track of what wasn't a hit, and sub ingredients in/out as you desire. For instance, I don't care for using canned tomatoes (personal paranoia about BPA), so I chop up fresh ones. If something calls for chicken broth, you can totally use Organic, Low-sodium Chicken Broth, right? Absolutely! Duh!

So what does this look like in reality? Well, this Friday/Saturday I went shopping:

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, $1.49/lb, 3lbs or more,
limit 2 packages, every Fridays only thru May 29th
Bought 8.74lbs
Paid $13.01

Veggies- $13.47 (made a list from this week's recipes, minus what I had on hand)
Used $3/$10 produce coupon loaded to my Vons Card from's Just for U program
Paid $10.47

Total $23.47 (I already had a can of low-sodium chicken broth, onions, carrots, and the spices in my kitchen)

What it looks like to start (not all veggies present, sorry):

What it looks like 45 minutes later (or 1/2 a nap which is a better time gauge around here):

This week, I made 2 bags of Chicken Curry, 2 bags of Savory Chicken, and 1 bag of Chicken Fajitas (which will be served with either brown rice or salad greens instead of tortillas).

Each bag contains enough food for 4 servings. So, I dump it in the crockpot, serve it up over brown rice, steamed veggies, or sweet potatoes, add in extra veggies or a fruit salad, and I immediately pack the leftovers into containers for the next day's lunch- instant portion control! So what you are seeing above is not just 5 dinners, it's 5 dinners for 2 and 5 lunches for 2- that's 20 servings of food for under $25 bucks! That's just $1.17 per serving! Even if you had very few ingredients on hand, I think this could still be a bargain. AND IT'S HEALTHY! AND IT'S CONVENIENT!

Need I go on? Ok, so pleeeeeaaaaassseee share your wisdom with me. Do you have favorite freezer-friendly recipes that are also "clean" eating? More information about clean eating? I am new to this and trying to make healthy choices for my crew. Please share!

P.S. We have been loving this Green Monster Smoothie for breakfast. It's protein packed and delicious. I make several batches, pouring them into freezer bags that are propped up inside large cups. I freeze them flat and put the bags in the fridge at night. The next morning, I give them a good squish and pour it into a cup! Grab the cup, throw the pre-packed leftovers for lunch, an apple, and some almonds all into a lunch bag- BAM! I have just effortlessly packed Dahubby a healthy day's worth of food!


  1. Loved these recipes! Thanks for them!

  2. Found you via Pinterest. Great tips! I have also found that the easiest and cheapest lunches are "plan-overs" so I've always cooked four servings instead of two! I'm just about to delve into freezer cooking so this is great. Also love your tips for healthy breakfast smoothies. Thanks so much!

  3. PS. What do you feed your little people? Do you cook seperate meals?

  4. This was super helpful! I am not much of meal a planner but I do like to eat healthy food, I just got off track for a while and ran across your post on pinterest tonight while looking for help in this area. I look forward to seeing more of your posts....