Showing posts with label Monthly Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monthly Challenge. Show all posts


Eat in Feb: Don't let Freezer Meals Break the Bank!

If you are chugging along with the final challenge of Eat in Feb pat your shelf on the back! (Hey do a dance if you want to!) The Eat in Feb Challenge was intended to be tough but it is also going to show you how it IS possible to eat at home even on busy tired nights.

One of the trending food prep systems is Freezer Meals. It is so convenient to have a meal ready to just thaw, heat, and eat! Plus, you have the added nutritional benefit of no added preservatives and compete control of the ingredients. BUT, yes there is a but, the actual cost and prep time of making the meals is a BUDGET BUSTER! With most of the popular freezer meal plans you are making about 2 weeks worth of freezer meals, some are more along the lines of a month of dinners or even 50 meals! So here are my issues:

1. All of the ingredients you need to prep these meals will cost generally speaking about 50-75% of your monthly budget. I know this sounds like a good deal because you have a ton of ready to go meals and still have money left over. However, in a real household you are going to need to buy other things like fresh fruits and breakfast foods, milk, diapers, and toiletries. It just doesn't always seem budget friendly to spend over half your monthly budget on dinners.

2. So mom's when was the last day you had time to spend ALL waking hours of your day in the kitchen. Think hard...maybe...nope I didn't think so! It hasn't happened for me since way before kids! Honestly when you commit to making a months worth of freezer meals that is what you will be doing. Between rewashing dishes and cutting and pre-cooking veggies and meat it makes for a LONG day.  

You are probably agreeing with most of what I am saying if you have read this far. You are also probably wondering if I am going to come up with an alternative. Well yes I am.

 Two Meals in One Night 
My budget friendly answer to monthly freezer meals!

The invention:
Two months before our littlest guy was born I was in panic mode! It was our second baby and our oldest was 6! We basically started all over again except for the fact that with the 2nd child most people do not knock down your door with yummy dinners and desserts. You have had one bundle of joy so you are trained for little sleep and lots of work.

We on the other hand were almost 6 years over sleepless nights and running ragged. So I decided to be proactive (in case we didn't get a large amount of meals) and try some freezer meals. 
Well that was my first glimpse at how expensive it was to buy all the ingredients AND all the bags and containers! Our budget was already changing to accommodate for diapers, wipes, ect. I just couldn't find room to buy over $150.00 worth of products.

Not getting discouraged I did the next best thing, I doubled my regularly planned meals! It was the perfect compromise, our meals are something that everyone lists already and are budget savvy. Doubling it cost me maybe $2.00 extra and it didn't create more dishes. Why didn't I think of this before?!

Here is the assembly line for Chicken, Broccoli, and cheese casserole. I use glass when I freeze meals because I am a cheapo and do not my meals to freezer-burn. We were gifted this Pyrex set but I love it because it comes with lids! 
Tip: When you are making meals and are short on an ingredient look for a substitute! This recipe called for Italian  breadcrumbs and guess who was out? This girl! So I used some Ritz crackers and done!

Remember to always label your freezer items! Date and name of the meal is just fine.
Doesn't this look yummy?

Your turn! How do you survive busy nights and still eat in?


Let's Talk:Weigh in Wednesday


As part of our new monthly challenges Wednesday will be a day to let your voice be heard! You are invited to share your thoughts, progress, fears, hit points, low points, or just say hi! You can do this on any social media platform, by email, or leave a comment below! If you are using Fb, Twitter, or Instagram use #eatinfeb so you can be entered to win a Get a L.I.F.E. Ticket.

This Wednesday I want to hear what your thoughts about this challenge are, what the hardest part might be, if you use a food inventory system and anything thing else you want to talk about!
There is a post on both FB and Twitter where you can leave your thought now! ***I love to hear from you. It is really an inspiration to me to keep blogging AND it helps me know what everyone needs help in. SO get to typing and join in on the conversation!


Eat in Challenge: How and Why to take Food Inventory, Challenge #1

Today is the first official day of the Eat in Challenge! I am very excited to be kicking off the week with a post that will help us plan for the end of the challenge which is 14 days of only eating in! For more details review this post. Remember there's a sweet prize for those that do! Week #1 Challenge is to Create a Pantry and Freezer inventory system plus NO SNACK STOPS!

Create a Pantry and Freezer Inventory System

Why? There is a very basic answer to this question and a very complex answer. Let's look at both.

Creating inventory systems in your home helps you know: 
  • What you have on hand
  • When your getting close to running out
  • When your out and need to restock
Knowing what you have on hand lets you meal plan more efficiently and helps you save money by making meals around what you already have paid for. Another great benefit to inventory lists is that you should rotate fairly quickly through items, so, no expiring and if your not using something you will notice and can incorporate that into your meals before it expires! We don't waste food at TNTL!

When you use an item you need to mark it off the list in some way, shape, or form. When you get down to one or two items DING! a little siren goes off and it is time to start thinking did our family like this? Is this an item I want to buy again? if the answer to this is yes then you need to add it to your needs list and start looking for sales and coupons.

The overall goal for inventory systems is to know what you have, use it, and learn your family eating and buying cycles for 3-6 months (more on this Thursday).

I want us all to succeed at this! I already use an inventory system in our home so I am going to make this available to you all with two FREE printables! I am also going to show you how I use them in home.

Freezer Inventory Printable

To Print click on image and print from computer settings
Pantry Inventory Printable

How I use this Food inventory system:

This system seems fairly simple and straight forward to me. It is easy to update when I shop and track items as I use them.

Pantry list 

  • Take inventory of what you have. It's fun finding that frozen pizza you didn't know you had! I do this by writing the item and then using a tally for the quantity. items that you like to have many on hand write that number so you can quickly reference if you need more. 
  • Keep the pantry list in or near your pantry for ease when marking items off! (work smarter not harder!)
  • IF there is something you are not sure where to put it make your own category or write it in the extra space. (like the jello)
  • When you are near low or out of an item remember to ask if you want to buy more and if so circle it or highlight it and add the item to your shopping list.
Sorry folks, I didn't it up before the photo
 Freezer List
  • Take inventory of what you have. I do this by writing the item and then using a tally for the quantity. items that you like to have many on hand write that number so you can quickly reference if you need more. 
Keep the pantry list in or near your pantry for ease when marking items off! (work smarter not harder!)
My Freezer list is beside my chest freezer downstairs. Most of our items that is frozen go there. 

 We have three freezers total 1 upstairs that has ice, homemade frozen waffles and muffins, cold packs, and ice cream (when we have it). The Second freezer is downstairs and is our old fridge/freezer combo. We keep all our bread in that freezer. Finally we have a small chest freezer that houses all our meats, veggies, anything freezable.
  •  If you do not have a chest freezer you should still keep an inventory of what is in your refrigerator freezer. Even if it is a lb of meat and cheese. I think things tend to get lose in all freezers so it just helps to keep things organized. 
Tracking your Items:
You need to track items that go out and come in. I use tallies. When an item is us used I scratch off a tally if I add and item I add a tally to the front. When we are out of an item completely I circle the item. After I have about 5 items circled I get a new sheet. (i don't like lots of clutter on my list)  Pretty simple, Right!

Okay so lets recap:
The challenge this week is to create your pantry and freezer inventory systems and no snack stops all week!
You can print our forms to help you with this or get create your own!
Tomorrow we will be sharing our thought, fear, and anything else Via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Remember use #eatinfeb and you will entered to win a Get a L.I.F.E ticket OR all the information from the day if you are not able to attend!

You got this!

Until tomorrow!