If you’re like me you can’t pass up those amazing 50% off or clearance deals you find at the grocery store! If it’s half off and I can freeze it, it comes home with me! Trouble is, these purchases can accumulate, and unless you actually eat that stuff it’s not necessarily saving you money.
After a holiday season complete with huge feasts and a fridge continuously full of leftovers, my collection of freezer bargains had accumulated to the point that I could not add another thing to my freezer! So I decided that my family would have a Freezer & Pantry Meal Week, and I’m pleased to say that we have used up a lot of those bargains and they were delish! Frankly I could probably do another few weeks on this program, but I’m having fresh produce withdrawal!
My Basic Freezer & Pantry Meal Week Strategy
1. Scan freezer for meats to thaw and take these out in the morning.
2. While looking for meats, poke around in the freezer to see if there are any frozen veggies in there for a side.
3. Choose a grain as a side dish from the pantry. I usually have on hand white & brown rice and quinoa.
4. Use spices and seasonings that are on hand to add a bit of flavour to bland pantry staples. Some of my favourites are basil, oregano, parsley, paprika and (my favourite) aged balsamic vinegar of modena.
Here’s what I ended up cooking during Freezer & Pantry Meal Week at my house:
1. Baked Salmon, Spinach Rice & Buttered Corn
2. Peach Pork Chops, Simple Quinoa & Broccoli
3. Baked Chicken & Prosciutto Canelloni (I have 3 more frozen packages of this stuff!)
4. Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (I used this recipe, and adapted it to what I had on hand)
5. Organic Rigatoni with Pesto, Peas & Carrots, and Parmesan Cheese
6. Swedish Paleo Meatballs, White Rice & Baked Acorn Squash
7. Spaghetti Bolognese (x2)
As you can see, I didn’t manage to cook from the pantry and freezer for every single meal this past week, but I was able to put a good dent in our stock piles just by being a bit more focused. There were no gourmet meals produced but everything was edible and for the most part pretty nutritious. My kids even ate the majority of it, which is a miracle considering one of my children is pretty picky. I made sure to tell my husband not to expect any gourmet meals this past week so he was prepared for things like having to eat spaghetti bolognese twice in one week.
You will be surprised what you can come up with a little creativity and commitment to getting your money’s worth out of your stock piles. Just stay flexible about your meals & be creative with what you have on hand. Another huge bonus was that I spent way less on groceries during the week!