Along with Spring comes a jump in chaotic schedules. We go from 1 weeknight activity a week to 4, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The kids will be starting swim lessons again to get a refresher for Summer, my youngest will be starting T-Ball and my oldest is joining a new Ninja gym. Needless to say, our evenings (and specifically, dinnertime) will be on the go. While I do have a sweet spot for take out Mexican (and an unhealthy obsession with Taco Bell), there is nothing I hate more than having to hit up a drive thru for dinner, and certainly not 4 nights a week. I am always in awe of the stories I hear of people taking an entire day and prepping meals for the entire month. I, unfortunately, do not have that type of patience, so I do things slowly, but get it done.
Usually around the beginning of March I start thinking about our chest freezer in the garage. It stays fairly empty during the winter, but I begin stocking it in March for the Spring, as well as prepping for Summer. I like to have quick, simple meals ready for the Spring, and we start stocking up on meats to grill out in the Summer. I start by shopping the sales at our local grocery store (ours is Kroger), and will purchase multiple quantities of frozen products that we use on a regular basis. For example, easy side dishes that just need heated, quick and easy frozen dinner options- pizza, chicken nuggets, etc (these are not the norm, but good to have on hand for those days I need to feed only the kids if my husband or I will not be eating with the family). Depending on the item, I will typically buy 2-3 of each item every time they go on sale.
The other thing I do to stock our freezer is one of my favorite phrases, “Cook once, eat twice.” If I am cooking something that is able to be frozen for a later meal as well, I make 2. We eat one, I freeze the other. I will include a few of our favorites at the end of this post. This helps me not get overwhelmed with hours of prep work and I don’t really feel like it’s any “extra” work. Doing this just twice a week will add approximately 8 meals to your freezer a month.
Finally, I hit up the holy grail of frozen foods in bulk. Costco. You all know I have a not-so-secret love affair with Costco. We purchase all of our ground beef and “specialty” meats- think marinated skirt steak, chicken cordon bleu, bacon (Costco’s bacon is amazing btw) here. Costco sells packages of 5- 1 lb rolls of frozen ground beef that are just as good as the ground beef you would buy from the meat counter at your local grocery store. These are great for tacos, spaghetti, stews, chili, etc. We also grab a few frozen “snack” type items that the kids could eat as a quick meal- Bagel Bites, pre-cooked sausage patties (these are the kids favorite). As always, be sure to keep an eye on the price per unit, as some items aren’t necessarily a better deal at Costco.
Crock Pot Freezer Meal Staples (A few of our favorites). Both of these are just combine ingredients and freeze. Thaw and cook in the slow cooker 4-6 hours on high (cook until chicken is cooked through). Serve with rice or noodles.
Zesty Italian Chicken
Dry Italian Dressing (1 packet)
Chicken Breast (3-4)
8 oz Cream Cheese
French Onion Chicken
Can of French onion soup (Campbell’s)
Chicken Breast (3-4)
Sour Cream (2 cups)