Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half - The Art of Freezer Meals

Date posted: Aug. 26, 2016

Photo Credit: Henrique Felix


One of the easiest ways to get ahead financially is to cut your spending and use that money to pay down debt or save. When you are cutting your expenses, no category of expenditure should be immune, especially spending on food.

The average Canadian household spent $490 per month on groceries in 2014, but it is easy to reduce that amount by saving money on the food you consume.

There are dozens of ways to cut your spending on food, but by far the easiest way is to reduce how much money you spend on takeout food. Swearing off takeout food can be done through better planning and a commitment to cooking at home.

But what about those days where you just didn't plan ahead and now you don't have the means or time to cook?

That's where freezer meals can save your budget. Freezer meals are meals that you prepare ahead of time and freeze, giving you a ready-made source of healthy and inexpensive food that need only be heated up.

Preparing freezer meals is an excellent way to reduce your grocery budget by up to half, but only if you make sure your freezer meals are frugal. Here are my tips for inexpensive freezer meals.

Prepare Food In Season

First, you’ll want to save money on the raw ingredients that you use to prepare your freezer meals. You can do this by buying vegetables when they are in season. Here is a handy list of the fruits and vegetables available in Canada, and when they come in season.

To save even more on your vegetables buy them in bulk from the farmers' market near the end of their season. The producers will often have an abundance and will reduce their prices to clear their inventory before it starts to wilt.

For meat and other add-ons to your freezer meals like cheese and milk, keep an eye on the sales at your local grocery store, and stock up when items get marked down. If you have a Costco membership, staples like meat, cheese, milk, rice, and pasta are nearly always less expensive at this big box store.

Keep Your Recipes Simple

It may be exciting to try a new freezer meal that has many exotic sounding ingredients, but it's also expensive. A $4.00 jar of tahini doesn’t sound expensive, but it will drive up the price of your freezer meals, and you'll save less money. Stick to simple recipes that have ingredients and spices you already have on hand.

Use Glass or Plastic Containers instead of Freezer Bags

On the other hand, it’s worthwhile to invest in high-quality containers that you can re-use over and over for your freezer meals, instead of single-use (and therefore expensive) freezer bags. While freezer bags may seem like the less expensive choice up front, they won’t be cheaper in the long run when compared to glass or plastic dishes that you can use hundreds of times.

Use Tried-and-True Freezer Meal Recipes

Cooking freezer meals ahead of time is not a new concept. Frugal and thrifty families have been doing this for decades, which means that there are many tried and true recipes out there that are guaranteed to work every single time. The abundance of pre-existing recipes means you don't need to spend your time or money perfecting original freezer meal recipes. Instead, simply Google “beginner freezer meals” and you’ll find a treasure trove of options for even the most cautious cook.

Freezer Meals Are For Lunch Too

When one considers freezer meals, it’s usually in the context of your evening meal. While it’s true that most freezer meals are usually larger meals that you cook for dinner, you can also make freezer meals work for lunch. Lunch-appropriate freezer meals could be your solution to that daily take-out habit you've formed.

To make freezer meals work for lunch, you’ll need to procure a set of single serving containers. You should also only prepare meals that are completely cooked and can be heated up in the microwave.

My favourite lunchtime freezer meal is soup. I simply cook a big batch of soup and portion it out into single servings. Then, when I’ve forgotten to make myself a lunch for work, I’ll grab a frozen single serving soup. I don't refrigerate it, and by lunch, the soup has partially thawed. A few minutes in the microwave and I’ve got a piping hot heart warming soup for lunch, and eliminated the need to spend $10 on a takeout meal.

Saving money on groceries will give you extra room in your budget for increased savings or paying down more debt. By adopting a freezer-meal habit, you're on your way to saving hundreds of dollars on food every single month.

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