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50 meals and $450.

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Yes, you read that correctly. 50 meals, weighing in at roughly 8 adult portions each for $450 dollars; all prepped in less than 4 hours. Now keep in mind, these are the entrées. This isn't the sides that will accompany each meal but still. With grocery prices the way they are right now, I am thrilled about being able to prepare 50 dinners for my clan for under $500 bucks. Now, I'm not sure if the time and preparation I saved myself excites me more than the frugal aspect of prepping these freezer meals did, but we can chat about that at another time.

Before Moving to Alabama two years ago, we stayed busy! Constantly working, leading Bible studies, volunteering in our local youth programs, coaching sports, homeschooling and just raising a family and being married. So I made it a point to keep our freezer stocked with 'dump' meals, that were healthy and filling, on a regular basis. I got WAY out of the habit when we went tiny our first year simply because there wasn't storage space available for bulk purchasing or storing. But since we've been in our home for a whole year, I realized I had never picked the habit back up. We have plenty of space now to prep and store, and when realizing we were spending anywhere from $1200-$1600/month on groceries and the occasional dinning out I knew it was time to pick it back up. So off to Sam's Club, Walmart and Costco I went to stock up on the ingredients needed for the 10 dinner options I decided on for this batch of meals.

I need to note, I typically do not prep this many meals at once simply because it is a large additional expense. However, this summer Hubs is still slated for a few week long out of town work trips and we are adding a baby in the next few weeks or so. So we agreed it would be best to prep extra so that not only on work trip weeks I have easy dinners (sorry Pizza Hut, it's been nice), but also so that we have some easy grab and go dinners ready for Baby Girl's arrival. So this month pinched a bit, but we used part of our tax refund to pay for the 'extras' in the grocery budget this month. If you can do that, I highly recommend it. It will alleviate so many unbudgeted fast food trips and also free up some additional money in your coming months of the grocery budget depending on how you stretch it out.

So what did we make? Well I'm glad you asked. We went heavy on chicken meals this time. Which was totally okay as our local stores seems to be constantly out of chicken over the last 4 months or so. I got lucky and learned that not only did the Sam's Club in the next town over have chicken in stock, but that I could get an entire case for $41 bucks with the chicken thighs being only .96/lb! So for $41 dollars I was able to get roughly 42lbs of meat to work some of our meals off of. I also purchased a case of ground turkey, a 10lb tube of ground beef and a whole pork loin (almost 10lbs) to cut into what we needed for meals. So nearly $175 of the total spent was on the meat. Which I don't think is too awful.

With that being said, here's the freezer line up:

- Orange Chicken

-Luau Chicken

-BBQ Drumsticks

-Spaghetti and Italian Meatballs

-BBQ Pulled Pork

-Creamy Italian Chicken

-Teriyaki Chicken

-Turkey Tacos

-Peanut Beef and Broccoli

All the recipes are prepped with the meats and any veggies that would cook with them. With the exception of the Pulled Pork, Peanut Beef and Broccoli, and Turkey Tacos; the meals are all able to be dumped into a low setting slow cooker for 8hrs and be done. Remember, no two slow cookers are equal. I have two, One I know cooks high for the settings and the other a little low so I adjust cook times accordingly. You should do the same.

The Pulled pork I will do for 6 hours as to not dry out the pork. The Peanut Beef and Broccoli I will thaw and pan cook. It's skirt steak and will cook incredibly quick in a skillet. I'm talking no more than 10 mins. max. and the Tacos are fully cooked and just need warming and to be built into tacos with the fresh toppings (*side note: some of these will be used as taco salads and not traditional 'tacos').

I do recommend a bit of prep work. I pre-labled all my bags I store the meals into with the name of dish, cooking directions, recommended sides and the date.... that way I don't have to hear or answer allllllll the questions when I'm not the one dumping the meal ;)

Now, I haven't taken pictures of the dishes cooked so I don't have images to attach for those, but here's the recipes. Also, for those of you who need it, I give you full permission to tweak the amounts to your personal preference or even omit things completely! <3 :

Orange Chicken: Slow Cooker Setting Low for 8 hrs. Feeds 6-8.

1 package Chicken Breasts or Thighs (I used thighs because of the sale price)

3/4 One jar of Sugar Free Orange Marmalade

1 1/2 cp Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cp Soy Sauce

1 TBS Brown Sugar

1 TBS Yellow Mustard

2 TBS Ketchup or BBQ Sauce

1 TBS minced Garlic

3 tsp minced ginger

Whisk wet ingredients together and place into a freezer safe 1 gallon ziplock bag. Combine with Chicken. Remove excess air and zip tight. Place in freezer.

Luau Chicken: Slow Cooker set on low for 8 hrs

1 family pack of Chicken Breasts or Thighs

1 TBS Brown Sugar

1 10oz can of Pineapple Chunks in Juice (remove 1/2 of the juice)

1 1/2 Cp Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cp Soy Sauce

2 TBS Lemon Juice

1 TBS Minced Garlic

Whisk wet ingredients together and place into a freezer safe 1 gallon ziplock bag. Combine with Chicken. Remove excess air and zip tight. Place in freezer.

BBQ Drumsticks: Low setting slow cooker for 6 hours.

1 Family Pack Drumsticks

1 16oz Bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

3 TBS of your favorite dry rub (we used Sweet Peepers)

Dump it all in that bag. Seal it and give it a good shake. Then remove all the extra air and freeze.

Spaghetti and Italian Meatballs: Slow Cooker on low setting for 6 hours

1 40oz Jar of Ragu Chunky Sauce

10 cps Pre-made, fully cooked Italian Meatballs

Combine in bag, remove air and freeze.

*When making a freezer meal I save myself the headache and just dress up the jar sauce with some fresh herbs from our garden and use pre-made meatballs. I used Sam's clubs bag of them which is a 5lb bag for about 10 dollars. It is literally a dump and go meal. We make real deal sauce when I am simmering it all day and have time to do that.

Pulled BBQ Pork: Slow cooker on low for 6 hrs

2lb Pork Loin

1 Bottle Favorite BBQ Sauce

Combine in Bag, removing excess air then freeze.

Creamy Italian Chicken: Slow Cooker for 8 hrs on low/ or thaw and bake at 350F for 40mins.

1 Family Pack Chicken thighs or breasts

1 bottle Italian Salad dressing

1/2 brick of cream cheese

2 TBS italian seasoning

2cps Spinach leaves

2cps Cherry Tomatos

Combine wet ingredients and veggies in bag with chicken. Seal removing extra air and freeze.

*this one is good slow cooked but SO much better baked!

Teriyaki Chicken: Slow Cooker low setting 8 hrs

1 Family Pack Chicken

1 Package of Teriyaki Marinade in bag (we used this: Sam's Choice Pre-mixed Marinades)

Add chicken to bag, seal and freeze. *Typically we use KC Masterpiece marinade if we aren't making our own. But there was a sale on these and they are super yummy.

Turkey Tacos: Thaw and reheat in either skillet or microwave until warmed through thouroughly

2lbs Ground Turkey

Taco Seasoning to taste (we use a Sam's Club shaker bottle of seasoning. I use on average 6-7TBS for 2lbs)

Brown in skillet over medium to high heat until cooked through. Allow time to cool to room temp and then store in freezer safe gallon zip bag.

Peanut Beef and Broccoli: Thaw and cook on low heat in slow cooker stirring occasionally for 2.5 hours

1cp chunky peanut butter

4TBS Teryaki Sauce

2tsp Salt

4Tbs Soy Sauce Reduced Sodium

2TBS minced garlic

2 lbs skirt steak

1 bag frozen broccoli

Whisk wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour onto skirt steak and broccoli in freezer safe storage bag. Mix together in bag and seal while removing all air. To cook be sure to thaw before cooking

So there you have it; directions and recipes. And like I said. Feel free to adjust to your preferences or needs. Just enjoy it.... and all the time you'll be saving!

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