Freezer Meals last week were AMAZING! I am so in love with this method of cooking, it's a borderline obsession. We didn't even remotely stick to the menu plan, but it worked out really well anyway.When I posted last weeks menu and shopping list, I hadn't counted on the fact that most recipes made two casseroles (thinking the cook would be making one for dinner and an extra to freeze), and that since there are only two of us- one casserole normally lasted for two dinners and a lunch. So we had way more food planned than we could possibly eat. When I plan this weeks menus, I'll learn from last week and adjust accordingly.
The only problem we ran into with the freezer casseroles was the freezer. We have a fancy french door fridge that looks great but it's freezer is pretty much useless due to it's size and shelving structure. We had been talking about getting a chest freezer but hadn't really found a deal good enough to make us move on it. I was concerned about the older models we found on craiglist with electricity usage. We used to have two 55 gallon fish tanks and a 75 gallon salt water tank- our electric bill was INSANE. When we found out we were pregnant, we gave them all away for free (or good karma as I see it) on craigslist due to the massive time investment keeping the tanks up cost us. I couldn't believe the reduction in the electric bill!
I searched craigslist all week, and found a chest freezer that was only 3 years old for one hundred and fifty dollars. I wrote the poster, but she had someone pending. I started looking commercially to see if I could find a clearance or floor model sale. I struck gold at Lowes. I found a Holiday 5 foot chest freezer, brand spanking new, retail price is $169.00 (you can see it here). You can use a 20% off coupon to save $33.80, making your new freezer $135.20 PLUS Lowes offered to deliver it the next day (which was a Saturday!), install it (which involves plugging it in- but still) and haul away any old appliance for FREE. Score! When I searched online- they only offered the free delivery for appliances over $400.00, I may have gotten a special deal… So if they quote you anything other than free- try to work with them. If your local- go to the Woodbridge Lowes on Smoketown Road. Because it's new, it comes with an energy guide which quotes a yearly energy cost of $26.00.
This is the second awesome experience we've had with Lowes (the last guy we spoke to there helped us find a Smoker/Gas/Charcoal grill that had a missing thermometer (which you can buy online at the parts store for $7.00), and gave it to us for $100.00, saving us $200.00 and an entire afternoon of putting it together (it was a floor model so no assembly was needed.) Keep it up Lowes- you and I are are just starting what could be a beautiful relationship.
Once I started filling the freezer, I started envisioning a way to have a visual display of what was in the freezer. I was originally thinking large magnetic dry erase board with recipe cards (complete with photos) arranged on the board using magnets. But then I realized the cost involved in this plan, and decided it wasn't worth it. Then I kicked myself (not literally), because the entire freezer is a giant magnetic dry erase board! So… I came up with this for FREE (I seriously love free!):