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YOU In Bloom (Week Two, Day One)

Candid Kitchen – Week Two
Guest Post by Angela from The Coupon Project:

By popular demand….

Freezer batch cooking made easy: “swap” your meals!
Many people are interested in batch freezer meal preparation. After all, it can be a great time saver and money saver! Several months ago, some friends of mine started a monthly “freezer meal swap” event. This has been a perfect way for me to fill my freezer with a variety of meals for minimal cost and fuss. Being able to do this once per month has freed up considerable time in the kitchen – and ensures my family enjoys home-cooked meals.

For this month’s event, 8 of us participated. We each chose one recipe to prepare in 8 batches. This meant I only had to worry about getting the ingredients needed for that one recipe! I chose a Mango-Cranberry Chicken. One of the reasons I selected this recipe was because I already had a fair chunk of the ingredients on hand in my pantry (hooray for stockpiling)!

Here’s what I bought:
$40 worth of chicken breast (about 16 pounds)
$10 worth of mango ginger chutney (from Trader Joe’s)
$3 worth of dried fruit (bought from bins at Winco)
Total: $53

About an hour later, I had my 8 meals prepped and ready to go! All I needed to do was chop up the chicken and prepare the sauce. I simply put them in labeled, freezer storage bags.

Later that evening, everyone arrived at my friend Kellie’s house to swap their meals. She’d set up some tables to make this easier. Then, we simply made sure to leave with 8 meals total. She also turned this into a fun event – which I encourage you to do, too! She made coffee and had refreshments and we later played “guess how much Kellie paid for this item with coupons” and then she gave away the item to the closest guesser.

Wondering what I went home with? Honey Glazed Chicken, Chicken Fajitas, Ginger Beef, Molasses Rum Chicken, Basil Balsamic Chops, Chicken Parmesan, Sweet Asian Chicken, and of course the meal I prepared. Nary a casserole in sight! Since we’ve been doing this awhile, we’ve decided to stick to one core freezer meal book for our recipes – Fix, Freeze, Feast. Everyone shares their feedback so we can make sure that everyone is happy with the recipes they receive.

All told I spent $53 for 8 meals, which works out to $6.62 per meal. What’s more, I didn’t spend hours at the store or hours slaving over a hot stove. And you might even say – I had fun!

The final step you’ll want to do is make sure you know what’s in your freezer! Keep a list handy so you can refer to it when you’re menu planning for the week. Use the frozen meals for the bulk of your menu planning or simply keep them on hand for those nights when you’d rather not cook. Yesterday was a busy one, and it was wonderful to take those Chicken Fajitas out. Included were the tortillas, veggies, cheese, and marinated meat – everything I needed. Dinner was ready 10 minutes later. And it was DELICIOUS!

If you want to do freezer batch cooking, I hope I’ve given you some ideas for how you can do this without spending an entire day in the kitchen (or spending an enormous amount on tons of ingredients)! In addition, a freezer meal swap is a great way to connect with friends and share recipes. Give it a try!

About the Author:

Angela writes The Coupon Project, a blog focused on helping you save money by using coupons and stockpiling. She’s also recently started sharing how her family has ripped up a sizeable chunk of their backyard to start an organic container garden. For more information on how you might organize a freezer meal swap of your own, read her post HERE.