Saturday, June 13, 2015

Freezer Meals Round 2 - Aldi Plan

Freezer meals are wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. When I was 8 months pregnant I made 15 meals and wrote a post about it here. We just ate the last one a few weeks ago and my daughter is almost 5 months old. Our church family is so wonderful and we had meals delivered to us 3 times a week for close to 3 months right after she was born in January. Such a blessing. So I didn't have to delve into my meals till Presley was about 3 months old. A few of my meals were great but others were just good. I would've liked if they had been a little tastier and cheaper BUT it was so nice dumping my already prepared meal in my crockpot the morning of and having dinner ready with practically no work. Totally worth it.

So now that my meals are gone, I need to make more, right? My mother-in-law sent me this Aldi-specific meal plan that she found online. I love Aldi and it's so cheap with good quality products so I was excited about checking it out. The only bad thing about Aldi is that it doesn't have everything. It has all of the basics but if you need something unusual you're going to have to make a special trip to Kroger. A few things at Kroger might be half the cost of your whole Aldi trip for a hundred items. It's frustrating and takes the cost-saving aspect out of the meals which defeats part of it's purpose. I was looking for a plan that was money-saving, tasty, and requires minimal work the day I want to eat it. I looked over this Aldi plan and it seemed like it'd meet all of my needs. 

The plan costs about $3 and there are a lot of different options. I actually got the freezer meal plan as well as the crockpot plan (which I will treat as a freezer meal plan when I decide to try it in the future). It has all of the recipes, a compiled shopping list (that includes categorized items based on the aisle you will find them, the brand and the price and it SAVED SO MUCH TIME), order of preparation, etc. The hardest part of my last freezer meal plan was compiling everything, making lists, figuring out how to get it done efficiently and effectively, etc. This plan takes so much work out of the process. Totally worth the $3. All of the info is available to you on the blog where you can figure everything out yourself but it saves so much time and brain power to purchase it. You'll save yourself hours. I do have some extra notes about it below. 

The freezer meal plan is for 21 meals for $150 which breaks down to be about $7 a meal and I feel like a few of them will have leftovers for another night because they made a lot. My total was actually $134 including tax. I didn't get the onions (give me a horrible allergy attack when I prepare them and not worth it) or peppers because I don't like them BUT I had to get a lot of the "pantry items" that the $150 price didn't include. I thought it'd be more than $150 because of that but I was pleasantly surprised. I needed 7 foil pans and 14 freezer bags as well. I got the foil pans 2/$1 at the Dollar Tree. The bags were included in the Aldi cost.

The plan makes:
2 baked ravioli
2 salsa chicken
2 Thai peanut pork
2 BBQ pulled pork
2 spaghetti and meatballs
2 chicken cacciatore
2 mac n cheese
2 souvlaki chicken
2 chicken enchilada pans (I fit 7 in each pan)
2 alfredos (to serve with pasta)
1 teriyaki chicken

I do need to point out that the shopping list includes things you won't need till you actually make some of the meals. For example, hamburger buns, Italian bread, avocados, 1 of the blocks of cheese, 5 boxes of noodles, 4 bags of frozen broccoli, etc. Be sure to go through the shopping list before you go shopping to make sure you won't buy something that will go bad before you make the meal it goes with. I went ahead and bought the 5 boxes of noodles and 4 bags of frozen broccoli that I don't need for a while. None of it will go bad but I don't have a lot of room to store it. I have a freezer in my kitchen (obvs) and one in my garage and they are both completely full at the moment soooo it probably would've been smarter to buy those things as needed because noodles and frozen vegis are cheap everywhere. And definitely don't buy hamburger buns that go with the BBQ if you plan on thawing and making it in 3 months. 

My brother and his girlfriend came over because they wanted to make some to take to college with them when they go back in the fall. They shared their plan because they'll eat the meals together. So yes, in 1 day we made 42 meals. My mom came as well and watched my babe which was a huge help. It took us about 12 hours (including the shopping). It's definitely exhausting. I did have to stop every few hours and nurse my baby which did slow things down a bit. The prep work was the hardest/most time consuming part for sure. Once you get that done the rest isn't so bad. But then again, we were doubling everything so it'd probably take you half that long. We did have 3 people working on it though. Each person had a duty at all times. For instance, my brother was on spaghetti sauce duty while his girlfriend grated 8 blocks of cheese. I prepared the meats most of the time because THERE WAS SO MUCH OMG! 

*Note: on the mac n cheese recipe it starts out by saying to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I think this is a mess up. You don't need to do that till it's thawed and you're ready to eat it. The cooking that you do while preparing it is all done on the stove. I preheated my oven just to find out that it was for no reason. I didn't read the recipe in its entirety before I did that and the whole time I was making my roux fot the sauce I was like hmmm wonder what I'm going to do with the oven in a sec. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! LOLZ!

There's a section that says "prepare a day or a few hours beforehand." I didn't do that and wish I had. We did all of our shopping and preparing and packaging in one day which is why I wanted to collapse from exhaustion at the end of the day. I recommend following those instructions and doing your shopping, thawing, and other things on the "prepare beforehand" list beforehand. Can't say I wasn't warned. We had to fill the bathtub with water and put 10 bags of frozen chicken in it to thaw it quickly so we could keep going. The spaghetti sauce has to simmer a few hours soooo you should definitely do that before as well. 

I feel like the quality of these meals are so good. Almost everything is made from scratch. Fresh spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, mac n cheese, etc. The only prebought sauce was the BBQ sauce. Fresher is healthier, right? Even if it has 2 lbs of cheese in it? Just go with it...

It took an entire day but once you're finished and your freezer is full and your kitchen is clean you feel so accomplished. 21 meals!! That's so many! And they're good quality and will save you so much time when it comes time to use them. 

So without further ado, here's the link to the Aldi freezer meal plan: 

Here's the link to the other Aldi meal plans offered including crockpot only and gluten free plans:

Note that I am in no way sponsored by this blog and I don't get anything for suggesting that you visit their site. I'm just sharin the love from my belly to yours :)

We didn't take any pictures of the process because we were working our buns off the whole time but here are a few pictures including the enchiladas and mac n cheese as well as my garage freezer that is stuffed full (and doesn't even include the 8 meals that are stuffed in my kitchen freezer). 

I hope you enjoyed! If you decide to try this let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear about your experience. Freezer meals have changed how we do dinner at our house. They're so helpful especially with a baby on our hands. Speaking of, she's adorable and basically the greatest ever and I don't know what I ever did without her. So here are some pics of my beautiful girl. 

Update!! My baby is still adorable but also we're half way through our freezer meals and it's July 26. We've eaten a few a week and have now tried all of them. They're so good! We didn't dislike even one. Our favorites are the Thai peanut pork, BBQ sandwiches (seriously so good), and the chicken souvlaki. My husband loved the enchiladas as well. I liked them too but I'm not a huge Mexican food fan. He is and wouldn't stop talking about them. I love Italian so I loved the spaghetti and meatballs. I guess we're getting close to time to do it again! The prep and assembly is seriously exhausting but so worth it when you're tired from the day and want something easy, yummy and cost-friendly to serve to your family. Hope yall enjoy.