I only eat homemade meals. I have hot soup for lunch and many delicious dinner choices. And it is always full of goodness and well balanced nutritionally. How do I do this if I only cook once a month?
With the freezer of course!
I spend one weekend a month cooking and shopping. I must admit, to do a month of dinners and lunches it does take most of the weekend, but I know it’s worth it. Why?
- I do a big Coles shop once a month. I buy everything I’ll need for that four weeks (milk is exempted). This means that I visit the shops rarely, and the chances of me “impulse buying” are greatly reduced. Not only that, I can easily budget over the month with only one grocery bill to take into consideration.
- I make rich meals, full of vegetables and lentils. Veggies are one of the cheapest food items you can buy, and buffering up a casserole/soup with extra veggies means that I can divide the meal into greater portions for very little financial cost.
- I portion everything. Once I have cooked a casserole, I cool it by placing the pot in a bath of cold water. Then, I portion the casserole into single meals, in sandwich bags (make sure you have cooled the casserole down sufficiently, as the hot liquid could melt the bag). I freeze the sandwich bags flat in the freezer. Once they have hardened, you can stack them in piles, or stand them on their ends like books along the freezer shelf. It is the most space-economical way to freeze food.
- I Freeze it.
As the meals are in their own individual portions, I can defrost only the amount I want to eat. By doing this, I am reducing the chance of any nasty bacteria developing on my food (this is dangerous when you start heating, refrigerating, heating refrigerating food as the bacteria is constantly in an environment where it can start multiplying).
- I don’t waste food. I rarely have left overs as I know exactly how much I like to eat. My eating habits are healthy as I am satisfied after a meal, not overfull. I know that I’ll always have a meal to come home to, and I never feel the need to buy fast food, as it is just as convenient to go to my freezer as it is to go through the drive-thru.
- I love variety. I cook all sorts of meals that I freeze. I love soups at lunch, so often I will cook a vegetable soup and a meat soup and alternate each day. For dinners this week, I can choose between casserole, meat pies, hamburgers, Mexican enchiladas, meatloaf, vegetarian lasagne, zucchini and cheese pancakes, pasta bolognaise or ham and leek pie.
My food bill is always under $100 for the WHOLE month!
It does take discipline, and you need to sacrifice a weekend, but I know that this method works for me, as it makes both financial sense and good healthy choices. Give it a go! Can you stay under $100 for food for a month?
Tips to remember:
Make sure to eat the older meal first. I know that I have eaten all the meals I have previously cooked because the freezer is bare before I do another shopping/cooking weekend. However, you don’t have to do this – you just need to label the sandwich bags with the date you cooked it and make sure you eat it within a reasonable amount of time (3 months is probably the oldest I have eaten one of my meals, it was fine!).
Try to squeeze out as much of the air inside the sandwich bag as possible – the less air, the smaller the chance of freezer burn. (I have been freezing things for years, and rarely does anything have freezer burn when I defrost it, but still this is an important point).