Cooking On A Budget: Freezer Bundles - Should You, Or Shouldn't You?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Freezer Bundles - Should You, Or Shouldn't You?

This particular post is a lesson on how to plan meals and shop for meals on a really tight budget.
Quite a few supermarkets - especially the independent stores offer up what they call a "freezer bundle". Now if you have a fair sized freezer and you on a very strict food budget, this may be the way to go.
For instance: let's say you have 4-6 people in your family and your food budget can not exceed $110.00 to $120.00. Purchasing a freezer bundle for $39.99 (which our local grocer prices them at) could be a good way to shop. For your basically $40.00 spent you get lots of dinners. Plus you end up with 50 or 60 dollars to purchase vegetables, fruit, paper products and bathroom and cleaning needs. When you are shopping for the miscellaneous non food products, use coupons and buy those items on sale.
The way I look at this bundle - you get so many dinners and this bundle should last for quite a while which means that next week you will only have to spend a minimum amount. I think this would also work for those whose budget is less.
Here's the example from our store offering:
  1. 3 lbs. ground chuck
  2. 2 lbs. all meat frankfurters
  3. 3 lbs. of chicken thighs or drumsticks
  4. 3 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breasts
  5. 4 lbs. country spareribs or a rib end pork roast
  6. 2 lb. bag of cooked shrimp - 31-40 count
  7. 3 - 6.4 oz. packages of brown and serve breakfast links
Very important in menu planning is to make sure you use all left overs that you can. What I'll do now is give a number of examples of what to cook and figure out just how many meals you can get from each item.
  1. 3 pounds of ground chuck is quite a bit of beef. Now you could make meatballs with half or perhaps a meatloaf. The other half could be used for American Goulash or as hamburgers or Salisbury steaks. Use it in a beef shepherds pie or stuffed peppers. Potentially there is 2-3 meals, maybe four.
  2. 2 pounds of frankfurters (hotdogs) - easy one night hotdogs, another night as a side to macaroni and cheese, or fry them up quick and slice and add to scrambled eggs.
  3. 3 pounds of chicken thighs or drumsticks - personally I would take the thighs as they are great in chicken cacciatore, for frying, for chicken fra diavolo, barbecuing. Liberally season them and skillet fry until the skin is crisp and finish off in the oven. You could potentially get 2-4 meals from these.
  4. 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts could easily give you 4-6 meals depending on the way you prepare the breast. You can break down the breasts by slicing off the larger end and even split that in half and cut the thinner end into chunks or strips. You have potentially 3-6 meals out of this.
  5. I am not a fan of the country spareribs and would rather get a rib roast and invite some guests to dinner. However, you can split the four pounds of ribs and make two dinners or as I suggested make a roast dinner for your family.
  6. Prefer to cook my own shrimp, but the cooked shrimp would be great to use in any stir fry meal, cut up and use the shrimp in a bisque or as shrimp cocktail for a special treat. Also you can use them in wonton skins and add in green onions and other chopped vegetables to make a fried wonton meal.
  7. The breakfast links are perfect along side of eggs, waffles, pancakes or can be used in a quiche if you pre cook them and slice them before adding to the quiche. Again around 3 meals in all.
Basically if you shop wisely, buy a freezer bundle and break the bundle items apart you will be able to see how many meals you will be able to yield. BEFORE you shop and buy, sit down and plan out your meals. Then when you get to the store, buy the appropriate vegetables or fruits or other items you may need to pull off some great dinners.
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