Barb and I did our cook-a-thon today. We made 32 meals in about three and a half hours. We spent a total of just over $126.00. So that comes out to about just at $4.00 per meal!! This type of thing used to take more like 8 hours until I discovered some short cuts.
1. Buy frozen vegetables already diced. A 3 pound bag of frozen onions is around $3.00. This is not only cheap but probably saves 30 minutes of dicing and a lot of tears. This idea works for diced peppers as well.
2. Cook meat the night before in the crockpot. This works well for chicken breast or large cuts of beef. Don't spend the whole day cooking or it will take 8 hours. We browned around 12 pounds of ground beef total. I started the moment I woke up this morning cooking the meat on medium and giving it a stir whenever I walked by. Most of it was done by the time we started around 9:00.
3. Buy big cans when possible instead of a lot of little ones. This is a huge money saver and saves the time of opening 12 small cans.
4. Assemble and mix in the bag. Why dirty a bowl which will require time to wash? Stick a spoon in the bag and stir it there.
5. Buy gallon size, high quality bags. There is nothing more frustrating and time consuming than trying to fit a lot of food in a small bag only to realize that it is leaking or won't seal completely. The extra $1 is worth it in this case and saves many messes. My favorite are Ziplock freezer bags.
6. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Mixing with clean hands in a large container takes half the time of trying to incorporate a large quantity of ingredients with a spoon.
If you freezer cook what tips have you found helpful? Do share.