4 Ways My Freezer Helps Me Save $65 a Month on Groceries

Freezer meals
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When I think about budget cooking, too often images of beans and rice fill my mind.

While I love well-prepared rice and beans, I’ve found another easy way to help save money in the kitchen: preserving meals and foods in my freezer.

This technique doesn’t rely on pinching pennies, a particular set of skills or exclusively buying marked-down bread and produce (both of which I do!). Instead, I use my freezer to make the most of my grocery budget and meal preparation time, saving me at least $65 per month while reducing the daily stress of cooking.

But what exactly is “freezer cooking”? It means using a freezer to store ready-to-go entrees, sides and ingredients for future use. By strategically using my freezer, I always have meals and ingredients on hand to keep my cooking tasty and on budget.

1. It Prevents Mindless Eating Out

I like going out to eat for fun, not because I’m feeling lazy or tired. On those days, I like to eat already-prepared meals that require little more than turning on the oven or pulling out a pan.

Freezer cooking also takes some of the expense and mental work out of eating healthy. I can carefully budget and plan meals that meet my nutritional goals, instead of running to the grocery store at the last minute to buy food for a healthy dinner when all I really want is mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies.

Lunch can be a difficult meal to plan for, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of going out with your co-workers if you don’t have leftovers from the night before.

My husband usually takes his lunch to work, so I also make a few single-serving meals he can pop in his lunch bag. Items like cheesy refried bean burritos and soups can thaw during the morning and you can microwave them by lunchtime.

Savings: $30 a month

2. It Maximizes Your Grocery Budget

Have you ever been at the grocery store and seen a great deal, but been hesitant to stock up because you’re not sure what to do with a large quantity of one item?

Freezer cooking helps me take advantage of sales and promotions because I create a plan to use the food in a batch of a particular recipe.

The opposite also works. If I know I want to make recipes that need a specific ingredient, I can start watching for those items to go on sale. I’ve purchased multiple pork loins at half price to make pork ragout and pounds of discounted shredded cheddar cheese for quiche.

If you’re a farmers market regular or a CSA member, take full advantage of seasonal produce. Are sweet peppers in season, with tons of bounty at incredibly low prices? Research recipes like red pepper pesto and pepper steak, then stock up, cook away and fill your freezer.

Savings: $10 a month

3. It Keeps Meal Staples Handy

I try to keep a handful of convenience items on hand in my freezer to make meal prep a breeze.

Items like pizza dough, naan bread, chicken broth and cooked beans are far cheaper to make than buy, and you can store them in the freezer until you’re ready to eat them. For example, I make multiple recipes of naan bread and freeze it to eat with Thai pizzas or coconut curry.

Every few months, I make a couple of pounds of cookie dough and freeze it in one-pound packages. Each one is a perfect last-minute dessert for an event or special treat for an evening at home.

Savings: $15 a month

4. It Minimizes Food Waste

Do you ever wind up throwing away odds and ends from recipes (half a can of tomato paste, anyone?) or leftovers because they go bad before you can use them?

My freezer has become my prime kitchen storage for perishable ingredients I’d otherwise stuff in the back of the fridge and forget.

I freeze ingredients like leftover tomato paste, buttermilk or homemade roasted peppers in small increments to grab for future recipes. If I have leftovers I’m not sure I’ll eat before they go bad, I’ll throw them in the freezer for future lunches and dinners.

Savings: $10 a month

By strategically using my average-size freezer, I’ve been able to eat well at home, maximize my grocery budget and keep food waste to a minimum without subsisting on rice and beans.

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Your Turn: How do you use your freezer to keep your food budget on track? Any tips or favorite recipes?

Abigail Murrish enjoys helping people enjoy delicious food while staying on budget. She is a food and agricultural writer situated in the heart of the Midwest who is passionate about encouraging people to know their food and eat well.