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Freezer Cooking Day: My No-Casserole 2-hour Plan (and come link up yours, too!)

With summer upon us and grilling and salad season in full force, I challenged myself to create a menu plan for Freezer Cooking Day which include zero casseroles. I also am short on time this weekend and ended up with only a 2-hour time slot with which to cook.

::The No-Casserole, Two-Hour Freezer Cooking Day Recipe List::

–Barbecued Beef x 4 (recipe coming)

Southwest Roll-ups x 4

Marinated Chicken x 3

Frozen Fruit Cups

–Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (recipe coming)

–Cooked bacon for BLT sandwiches and salads (enough for 3 meals)

–Cooked and chopped chicken for Homemade Pizza and Chicken Pasta Salad (enough for 4 meals — 2 of each)

And here’s my plan — maybe a little ambitious to accomplish in two hours. But it seems doable on paper, at least!

::The No-Casserole, Two-Hour Master Freezer Cooking Day Plan::

–Set out meat and milk from freezer tonight (to thaw).

–Start beef in crock pot (5 minutes)

–Grind flour (5 minutes)

–Cook bacon and chicken (5 minutes)

–Make chocolate chip pancakes batter (5 minutes)

–While pancakes are cooking, clean up kitchen (10 minutes)

–Continue cooking pancakes and mix chicken and marinade in freezer bags (5 minutes)

–Make fruit cups (15 minutes)

–Chop chicken (10 minutes)

–Make Southwest roll-ups (10 minutes)

–Bag everything and put in freezer (10 minutes)

–Clean up kitchen (20 minutes)

If all goes exactly according to plan, I’ll have 18 meals (or parts of meals) in the freezer, plus fruit cups and pancakes. Stay tuned on Monday for the full report including pictures and recipes.

Are you participating in the May Freezer Cooking Day Event? If so, post about your cooking plan on your blog and then come back here and leave your direct link below so we can all be inspired! Please note: links which do not link directly to your freezer cooking post or which do not contain your freezer cooking plan will be deleted.

Weekend Giveaway: 5 Savvycents Budgeting Wallet Systems


Savvycents was first formed in January of 2009 after Melinda Claudpierre read a book about becoming debt-free and following the cash envelope system of budgeting.

Frustrated with paper envelopes and disorganization with her wallet, she wanted to create a wallet that would allow her to keep her cash in separate categories and also give quick access to her drivers license, coin holder and all of her discount cards and coupons. So she created the Savvycents Wallet which allows you to have all these thing in an attractive wallet!

The Savvycents Wallet is not only functional but also fashionable. It contains everything you need to organize your monthly or weekly budget using a cash system. With an accordion style file system inside the wallet you can separate money and coupons by categories.

The wallet also comes with file cards where you can label each category with pre-printed labels. There are also blank labels where you can customize your wallet based on your personal categories. You no longer have to carry envelopes to separate your money and deal with loose change in the envelopes. A coin pocket is located on the backside of the wallet. Plus, it also has 6 pockets for debit cards and store discount cards. On the opposite side there is a place for your driver’s license and a place for your checkbook.

I think this idea is brilliant and loved the idea as soon as I heard about it! However, when Melinda sent me one, I noticed one big flaw: there aren’t enough category slots. The five available in this wallet just don’t cut it for us since we actually actually have 12 different cash envelopes categories!

The more I thought about it, though, I realized that you could choose five of your most-used categories to keep in this wallet and that would likely work fairly well. Or, you could store the rest of your envelopes in the wallet and just pull them out as needed. We’re still deciding what might work best for us. For the time being, we have five of our envelopes in The Savvycents Wallet and the rest are still in our other cash envelope wallet system.

Another idea I had for using this wallet would be to use it as a coupon organizer of sorts. If you clip your coupons and put them in individual envelopes with your store lists, you could create a category slot for each store you regularly shop at and then keep your ECBs, Register Rewards and store coupons in the individual slot.

When you get ready to go shopping, you could stick the coupons you’re planning to use, along with the store list in each store’s slot and your grocery money and you’d be all set for a very organized shopping trip. I’m beginning to think that this is how I’ll settle on using it as it seems it would work really well for that.

Would you like to try out a Savvycents Wallet to see if it helps you stay more organized? I’m giving away 5 wallets this weekend to readers here. To enter to win one, just leave a comment on this post (click here to do so). Five winners will be randomly chosen and posted on Monday.

Groupon: Save big on local deals


Have you heard of Groupon? It’s a relatively new site which offers local deals. Every day, you’ll receive a coupon offer via email which is up to 90% off an area restaurant, attraction, store or service.

I’ve been really impressed with the offers available. While they do cost something (i.e. none of them are totally free), it’s a great way to do fun things as a family — without breaking your pocketbook (provided you have the money to pay for the deal in your budget!).

Sign up for Groupon deals in your area here.

Is Freezer Cooking Really Worth It?

Over the past few years as I’ve shared my Freezer Cooking Day adventures with you, a number of you have written and asked, “Is it really worth the effort?”

Well, you’re right that it’s effort. Having a Freezer Cooking Day is hard work. It takes thought, planning and sweat to pull it off.

But I have definitely found it to be every bit worth it. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine life without pre-made meals in my freezer!

As many have stated before, Freezer Cooking definitely saves you time and money. But here are three other specific reasons I love Freezer Cooking:

1. I only have to do dishes once a month.

Okay, well, I wash plates, bowls, cups and utensils, but my kitchen only becomes massively messy once a month. Do you know how nice that is?

When I have a clean kitchen, it somehow feels like the whole house is cleaner. So while I definitely pretty much “destroy” the kitchen on Freezer Cooking Day, the other 29-30 days of the month, it stays relatively mess-free.

(Ahem. We won’t talk about the kitchen floor, though. Can I exempt it since I have young children? Because seriously, no matter how many times I sweep and mop each week, there always seems to be enough crumbs on the kitchen floor to make a casserole with! :))

Nope, I don’t have a deep freeze, so I just do the stuff-and-cram method for my over-the-refrigerator freezer. It might not be the prettiest method ever, but I can fit close to 30 meals in there at a time! And yes, I’m sure the organizational geeks are totally cringing at that picture. It works for us — and that’s what matters!

2. I don’t have to dread 5 p.m. anymore.

I don’t know about you, but there are some days at our home when life whizzes by so quickly and all of a sudden, it’s 5 p.m. and dinner isn’t even a figment of my imagination. Before I started regularly cooking ahead and freezing meals, I’d be tempted to call my husband and ask him to bring something home for dinner.

Freezer cooking has solved the 5 p.m. “What’s-For-Dinner” panic. If I forget to pull something out earlier in the day, I’ll just pick a meal from my freezer stash which defrosts quickly — such as meatballs. I pair this with from frozen veggies, toast and maybe a fruit salad and no one even has to know I forgot about dinner until 30 minutes before it was supposed to happen!

3. It’s not a huge undertaking to have dinner guests or take a meal to someone.

When I have meals already made in the freezer, it’s rather simple to bring food to a new mom or have friends over for dinner.

Lasagna, spaghetti pie and meatballs are great staple meals to have on hand to share with others. Just whip up some Bread Machine Buttery Rolls, make a salad or fruit and maybe some brownies and you’re set!

I also like to sometimes make up chocolate chip cookie dough and freeze it so I can quickly make a dessert for friends coming over or to take somewhere.

New To Freezer Cooking?

Here are some articles to get you started:

Start Where You Are and Learn As You Go

How to Plan a Freezer Cooking Day (and find more ideas here)

How to Cook for Your Freezer When You Don’t Like Casseroles

Can You Have a Freezer Cooking Day if You Don’t Have a Lot of Freezer Space?

How to Store Your Freezer Meals

Do you think Freezer Cooking is worth the effort? Why or why not?

Kids Bowl Free: 2 free games of bowling every day, all summer long!

Kids Bowl Free is a program offering 2 free games of bowling every day this summer to children 12 and under. You just register and then you are emailed coupons for free bowling every week.

There are bowling centers all over the nation participating in this. Just click on the map here to see what centers are participating in your area. You can also buy a very reasonably-priced family pass for adults to bowl, too.

If you own your own bowling shoes, this could mean free or very inexpensive family fun — all summer long!

Thanks, The Homespun Heart!