Monday, October 26, 2015

20 Freezer Meals for $65


To get the best deals, I started at Aldi.  For reasons why, and a detailed list of which stores offer the cheapest pricing on specific grocery items, here's my grocery research.  Aldi tops the list and Costco is a not-so-close second, followed by Jewel, Trader Joe, and Walmart (but there are a few items that each store has the best deals on).

I was able to purchase about half my list at Aldi:
-Basic veggies (carrots, onions, potatoes), all on sale for 50 to 75-cents per bag
-All canned veggies, all at about 50-cents a can
-marmalade and applesauce, at $1.50 each
-ground turkey, stew meat, bacon, frozen chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks
Total: $53.70

If you haven't been to Aldi in a year or so, take a look.  They now offer grassfed meat, freerange chicken broth, healthier dry goods (no artificial color, hydrogenated oils, or MSG in any product sold), and their produce has improved in freshness (still check your bags of potatoes and onions to be sure they're all ok).

Once I was done at Aldi, I checked the ads to find the best deals on meat (since that was the most expensive part).  Pork roasts, which I was unable to find at Aldi, were on sale Buy One Get One Free at Jewel, so I went there.  Strategy.

I bought the remainder of my list there, which included a lot of produce.  In-season produce is usually comparable prices no matter where you get it.  And I'm unwilling to compromise on soy sauce, hot sauce, and mustard, so I got the brands that I like even though they weren't on sale.  For containers, Walgreens had a great deal on gallon freezer bags, 15 bags for only 99-cents, so Jenny made a quick stop there and picked up 3 boxes.  (Still running through Nov 1st if you're interested)

The total for both stores came to $131.64, for both stores.  This was enough ingredients for 40 meals, which Jenny and I were preparing together and then splitting, so the total was roughly $65 per person for 20 meals each.


Recipes:
Roast Pork with Cranberry and Ginger

Buffalo-Style Chicken
Modifications: As with all recipes that follow, thaw the frozen bag overnight and then follow the recipe's original heating instructions.  Obviously, you are freezing just the buffalo chicken drumsticks and making the optional celery salad the day you cook the chicken :)

Hot Pepper Pork with Butternut Squash
Modifications: I thought 8oz of jelly for 4 servings was too much sugar (that would mean 1/4 cup jelly in each individual serving!), so I did this weird thing where I substituted pickled jalapenos and some honey for hot pepper jelly.  Not sure if it will work out.  If you're less sugar-phobic, you can just follow the recipe.

Braised Short Ribs with Korean BBQ Sauce
I combined this recipe and substituted the hoisin sauce with Gwyneth Paltrow's "Korean BBQ Sauce" recipe

Pork with Red Cabbage and Smoked Apple Puree
Lots of modifications: Too big to all fit in one gallon bag, so I added the pork and apple puree to one bag, and all the other ingredients to another bag.  Cabbage only keeps in the freezer for a month (it keeps in the fridge at least that long), so this was maybe a silly recipe to freeze?  I plan on baking the pork roast and slow-cooking the cabbage.  I wouldn't make this recipe again as a freezer-to-crockpot recipe.

Nikujaga: Japanese meat-and-potato stew
Modifications: Do not add potatoes or water to freezer bag.  Add them when you are adding the stew to the slowcooker.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Posole Soup
Modifications: do not add can of hominy to freezer bag, replace 5 cups broth with 4 tsps bouillon* and add 5 cups water when you reheat on stovetop.  Add hominy near the end of cooking.

Potstickers

Jambalaya
Modifications: omitted shrimp (I don't think shrimp belong in a slow-cooker), omitted broth (replace with 2 tsp bouillon*, add 3 cups water when you put it in the slow-cooker), rice (add rice when you add to slow cooker)

White Bean and Chicken Chili
Modifications: Do not add cans of tomatoes or beans to freezer bag.  Add them while you are heating the soup.  The beans would get too mushy.

*bouillon: I use "Better Than Bouillon" these days, which gives a more natural flavor and uses less salt.

My Grocery List:
Produce:
-12 tomatillos
-4 jalapenos
-4 lbs red cabbage
-2 granny apples
-1 bok choy
-8" fresh ginger
-1 bag matchstick carrots
-1 bag carrots
-2 bags onions
-1 bag celery
-1 lemon
-2 cups cranberries (couldn't find ANY, had to use canned)

Cans:
-2 28-oz cans hominy
-1 can tomato paste
-4 14-oz cans tomatoes
-4 14-oz cans cannelini beans

Condiments:
-soy sauce
-2 jars chopped garlic in water
-stoneground mustard
-orange marmalade
-2 jars applesauce
-8 oz hot sauce
-dried cranberries

Frozen:
-2 lbs frozen butternut squash
-wonton wrappers (found next to tofu in produce aisle)

Meat:
-6 lbs beef short rib
-2 lbs pork tenderloin
-1 lb stew pork
-4 3-lb pork roasts
-1 package bacon
-5 lbs chicken drumsticks
-6 chicken breasts
-1 lb ground turkey
-2 lbs turkey sausage

Note: I started with a pretty substantial pantry that I was willing to share.  Some things that I had on hand that others might not: dashi granules, gochujang, sake, chicken bouillon, vinegars (rice, cider), olive oil, sesame oil,  honey, brown sugar, and a lot of dried spices.

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