Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Freezer Meals Recap

It's been almost 24 hours, and I'm still exhausted from my all-day freezer meal cooking event. I really enjoy my time in the kitchen, so I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. It's a very satisfying feeling to know that I saved my family money by planning my meals long in advance, plus saving myself time (& my sanity) by cooking my meals in advance so there's less to do when it comes time to make our suppers each evening.

If there's one thing that I wish that I could do, it's make several breakfast meals in addition to the supper meals on my freezer meal cooking day. But there just isn't the time, and I plan a full menu for the month, so cooking everything up is very time-consuming. I do try to make something for breakfast, other than cereal or toast, on the weekends, at least for one mornin. The kids definitely love it, as evidence with their frequent requests for pancakes. :)

If you missed my September freezer meal list, you can click here to review it.
I start out my cooking day by picking up my monthly food order from Angel Food Ministries, a nationwide ministry designed to help bring affordable food to needy families, or anyone looking to save some money or bless others.
I started ordering from the ministry exactly one year ago, and it has truly blessed our family. We had fallen on hard times--no surprise, lots of families have been or are currently experiencing stretched finances. I heard about AFM and decided to look into it. Encouraged by what I read, I placed our first order. And I've been buying ever since.

Since I started making freezer meals in March and utilizing sales ads in May, I've been able to really stock pile on pantry items, and especially on meats. I probably don't need to order from AFM any longer; however, it certainly helps take the guess work out of trying to find good deals, especially on meat and produce, and so ordering just the regular box alone knocks off one week's worth of meats that I don't have to hunt for.
Here's what we got in this month's order:
Regular box $30: 1.5 lb ribeye steaks, 1.81lb split chicken breats; 4lb chicken thighs; 1.5lb pork chops; 1 lb lean ground beef; 1.5lb 100% white meat turkey burgers; 12oz deli ham; 1lb frozen sweet potatoes; 1lb frozen green beans; 15oz can pears; 2-12oz cans 100% orange juice concentrate; 3lb bg potatoes; 2lb bag onions; 32oz 2% shelf stable milk; 1 dozen eggs; refrigerator cookie dough
Fruit & Veggie Box: 3lb baking potatoes; 2lb bag onions; 1lb carrots; 1 butternut squash; 4 bartlett pears; 3lb bag Golden Delicious apples; 3lb bag McIntosh apples; 1 cantaloupe; 1 avocado; 1 mango; 6 1.5z pkg's raisins; 1 pkg homemade apple pie spice
After taking my daughter to dance class, then picking up our AFM order at our local host church, I headed home. I got started on the freezer meals about 11am. Aside from eating lunch and supper, I pretty much stuck to the kitchen.
Before leaving for dance class, I took everything out of the freezer to thaw in a couple of boxes on the kitchen floor (not a pretty site to see large quantities of meat on my floor, but the boxes do soak up the water condensation from the packages of meat as they thaw, and for me it's the most convenient way of thawing the meat).
I grossly underestimated how much meat I had stocked up on and ended up putting some of it back into the freezer. I also planned for well over one month's worth of meals, due to carry-over from August, plus several non-freezer meals. I guess that's okay, because I've already got some meat in the freezer for next month's freezer meal cooking day. So again the question now is, do I really need to order from Angel Food Ministries in October? I'm fairly confident I'll be able to stock up on some b/s chicken breasts and ground beef over the next month. And that to the meat that's still in the freezer, as well as the meals that will carry-over next month, and I know I'll easily have enough. Maybe now we're sufficiently back on our feet that the ministry has served its purpose for our family. It's something to think about.
Since I had quite a full menu to cook up, I was able to cook several meats at one time before splitting them up into the individual meals. I cooked up all the ground sausage together, and also cooked up some of the b/s chicken breasts together, and most of the chicken leg quarters in one batch as well. This definitely helped save me some time, instead of cooking the meats all separately.
If there's one lesson I've learned, it's that I need to plan fewer baked meals! At least, fewer baked meals for the month of September. The outside temp has definitely cooled down this month, so we've gone without the A/C for a few weeks now. It still gets a little warm in the house, and was definitely more pronounced with the oven heating up the kitchen off & on during the day. Even with all the ceiling and oscillating fans on, it was still a warm 81 degrees in the house. But we managed to survive just fine, and we'll save money in the end since we didn't have the A/C going on top of the oven and stove.
All in all, it was a great day, and I really accomplished a lot. It was a great day, and I've got a great menu to select from over the next month!

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