I read some where that a full freezer is a more efficient freezer, so I'm doing my part to be green and fillin' 'er up! ;) Our friend is going hunting this weekend and offered to get us a deer! So it's possible that in the next couple weeks we'll have a whole deer in there! Can't wait for all that meat for a seriously low price!!
Until then, I've been loading it with all sorts of "easy" meals that I can grab and make in a moment's notice and to also save us trips to the store when we are tight on our cash budget. Whenever I think 'frozen dinner' I always think- lasagna. It's a really inexpensive meal if you play it right and it's not any more effort to make 2 then it is to make one.
Lets talk price:
-A box of lasagna noodles is about $1.35 here and they usually make one large pan, so for 2 you're talking about $2.70 for noodles.
-The cheapest red sauce we've found is Hunts and it's $0.88/can, again, you'd probably want 2 if you're making large pans, $1.76
-Ricotta or cottage cheese, depends on what you buy. If you need it to be cheaper, cottage cheese is about $1.89 for the large container and ricotta is around $3.
-Cheese, I buy on sale for around $1.50-1.60/lb and shred it myself. I'd use about 1/2 lb per pan.
-Onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and any other vegetable you may add will probably run about $1.00-$2.00 depending on the amounts and which you add.
-Meat will be the most expensive item, but it's also an item you can do with less of it your budget doesn't allow for it. I used 1 lb. of hamburger (around $1.60/lb) for 2 pans of lasagna and some stuffed shells. I also added about 1/3 ($0.83) of a link of polish sausage that I cut in really small pieces for a little extra meat and flavor.
The grand total: $13.39 (if you go with the higher price on the veggies & ricotta) for two large pans of lasagna that will likely get you at least 16 servings (8 servings per pan). Add some garlic bread, salad or veggies and you have two dinners for under $15 and that's if you go with the high end! The reality is that you can make even less expensive then that too. You can use even less meat, cut out the pricier veggies like spinach and mushrooms, use cottage cheese and you could be under $10 easily.
Now if you're like our family, we don't eat a large pan each meal and by the time we get to the second half of the pan we're feeling sick of lasagna, so I went to the dollar store and bought 3 disposable pans for $1 and made half size lasagnas for the freezer, so we could thaw the portion we'd actually eat for a meal. Since that's what I did, I actually only made the equivalent of ONE large pan, in two smaller pans, so my total cost was half of the 2 pan total for two meals.
What other meals are easy to freeze? Bring on the ideas!