Because our little girl is in no rush to leave the womb, Casey and I decided to officially move to our new apartment this weekend and wait for her arrival here.
Way back in my pregnancy, I had had grand plans of making freezer meals for our first month with baby, but then we were living with my parents and I didn’t really see how I’d cook there and transport everything an hour away, so I gave up on the idea. Plus I was thinking this little one would come any day after my sister’s wedding, and I wouldn’t possibly have time to cook all that food.
But when you are 41 weeks pregnant and perhaps the most impatient person on earth, cooking freezer meals suddenly becomes an appealing distraction from the fact that baby still hasn’t come.
Plus you might remember the whole “losing my job and not having an income in July” situation, which means that we are on a super tight budget until Casey’s teaching job begins. Cooking while figuring out parenthood sounds terrible, and eating out is expensive, so we spent our weekend making about a month’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Yes, my ankles are killing me, but I can’t even tell you how excited I am that I don’t have to cook for nearly a month if I don’t want to.
What I Cooked
I made a mixture of “McKee Staples” and tried a few new (but safe) recipes so we didn’t get bored. I made each meal for 4 people, because I hate lunch and love leftovers. Plus I find I snack a lot less when I eat a real meal for lunch, and snacks are expensive (or require extreme couponing, which I don’t have the patience for).
So each “meal” below is really a Lunch&Dinner combo (or two meals for a couple, or one for a family of 4). I packed each one either in freezer bags or aluminum cake pans from the Dollar Tree so I could turn on the oven once and re-heat leftovers the next day.
Our Staples included:
- Chili – 4 meals
- Kilbasa, Peppers & Onions – 3 meals
- Homemade Meatballs – 3 meals (still have to cook the pasta, but I can boil water).
- Baked Mac n Cheese – 2 meals
New Recipes included:
- Breakfast Burritos – 9 meals (2 burritos per meal)
- Chicken, Brocolli & Alfredo Stuffed Shells – 3 meals
- Chicken Enchiladas – 2 meals
In addition, I cooked 5 pounds of brown rice which I then divvied up into meal-sized servings in freezer bags. A 10 lb. bag only cost $4.99, so this is the ultimate in saving money!
If you do the math, you’ll find I’m not at 30 days of meals. We had 5 meals-worth of already-frozen chicken breasts at our old place that we brought up here, which I have “matched” with the rice servings, some bags of frozen veggies we purchased, and the cans of beans we already had handy. So yes, I’ll have to cook those nights, but the food is in the freezer, at least.
- Honey Chicken, Rice and Frozen Broccoli – 1 meal
- Asian Chicken, Rice and Frozen Peas – 1 meal
- BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans and Broccoli – 1 meal
- Mexican Chicken, Rice and Beans – 2 meals
Finally, we have a mixture of store-bought frozen meals, one which we bought (the pizza) and two from my lovely mother-in-law (she also bought us the ice cream and Italian Ice you see in the picture, hehe):
- Frozen Pizza
- Chicken Parm
- Stir Fry
Altogether, that’s 26 lunch/dinner meals (or 52 separate meals for 2) and 9 hot, protein-packed breakfasts. Yep, the freezer is PACKED. In addition, we stocked up on cereal that was on sale (Honey Nut Cheerios are our favorite) and we splurged on some 2/$4 cinnamon rolls for a quick, unhealthy weekend breakfast treat. We have oats for oatmeal and will purchase fresh fruit and milk/cream each week as needed. And I don’t know whether to be proud or horrified, but we also have approximately 20 boxes of boxed mac n cheese “just in case.”
So, What Did It Cost?
Besides every drop of my energy?
I wish I could give you a meal-by-meal play-by-play, but I’m too pregnant for that and I don’t like math that much. Plus it’s a challenge because we had some food already in the pantry and didn’t use all of the food we bought (like I still have 5 pounds of rice, a giant stack of beans, 4 cups of cheese, etc.). So all of those “left overs” will be used for future meals once baby girl is a little older.
But I did go through our latest giant receipt and did a rough estimate of the cost for the 18 freezer lunch/breakfast meals I made from scratch this weekend, plus the 19 breakfast burritos (a.k.a., the first two bullet lists above).
Altogether, we got 45 two-person meals for about $136. That comes out to about $3/meal and $1.50/serving. When even a cheap meal out costs somewhere around $6 per person — and more realistically $10 — you can see we saved a ton by making meals at home.
All The GMOs
I say that facetiously, but really I only bought whatever was on sale/the store brand of the cheapest possible goods. Nothing about these meals is gluten-free, low-carb, non-fat, organic or anything of the sort. Not that that wouldn’t be awesome, but we just aren’t there at this stage in our lives.
We kept the cost down with high-carb meals consisting of lots of $.99 pasta, uber cheap rice, and $.66 cans of beans. Obviously we could have saved even more by picking cheaper meals or forgoing meat, but we tried to strike a balance between frugal and no-fun.
It’s also true that we could have probably eaten healthier meals had I shopped sales and used coupons, but time was of the essence here. Now that we are settled in once place for at least the next year (Lord-willing), I can start a stock-pile and work on that (you know, after I get used to a new baby and find a job, haha).
Special Thanks to Casey
This is the part of the post where I thank my best friend and ultimate team-mate: My husband. He washed and re-washed dishes for two days straight so that I only had to cook, he helped me stir stuff and watch what was on the stove while my pregnancy brain acted up, and he also somehow got everything to fit in the freezer using his mad Tetris skills.
Oh, and he also coached me through approximately 3 breakdowns, made sure I was staying hydrated and poured out all the heavy pots full of boiling water. I could NOT have accomplished this alone.
Baby Girl, We Are REALLY Ready Now
I keep thinking that we are officially ready for her arrival, but now we really are. The apartment is organized, our stuff is all moved, our hospital bags have been packed for a month, and we have enough food sustain us through the looming sleep deprivation to come.
Maybe she’ll feel how calm I now am, and make her grand entrance tonight.
Here’s hoping! Stay tuned…