This won’t come as a surprise to my regular readers but just in case you didn’t already know, I’m a huge fan of meal planning!
Just spending 15 minutes on a weekend planning the following week’s meals and writing a shopping list saves me both time and money every single week. But recently Iceland sent me some vouchers to plan and share a recipe over on Meal Planning Made Easy and as I was shopping for the ingredients I realised that there I could change the way I did things to save even more time and money by being even cleverer with my meal planning using frozen food more.
My #PowerofFrozen experiment has been that successful that I’ll be ordering a new undercounter freezer to go in my kitchen next week because I want to have more freezer space in the house!
Here’s just a few of the ways that I’ve saved time and money….
1) Frozen mixed veg is something that I’ve long been a fan of but Iceland have taken it one step further with just about every vegetable you can imagine available. I have a drawer in my freezer now which has frozen chopped onions (the most amazing time saving thing ever), frozen mixed veg which is great to add to most casseroles and stews by the handful as well as bags of the kids favourite veg to cook with tea. Our favourite new found frozen veg product is the packets of peas and sweetcorn which takes just 3 minutes in the microwave to cook – brilliantly priced at 99p for six good sized packs.
2) Bags of rice are just brilliant – at Iceland you get six portions of rice for 99p which you just pop in the microwave for three minutes! This is probably marginally more expensive than buying dried rice and cooking it yourself but the difference is negligible in my opinion and the fact it’s so easy to cook lovely fluffy white rice every single time. A super quick meal for the kids is egg fried rice made with a pack of this rice, a pack of sweetcorn and peas mixed with one egg and some soy sauce. I just pop the cooked veg and rice in a wok with some leftover meat if I have some or just on it’s own if not and in about two minutes it’s a lovely and healthy super quick tea.
3) Homemade burgers are a favourite food here and I often end up turning my plans for a mince dinner into plans for a quick and easy homemade burger tea instead. One thing I never have in when I do this is burger buns though and I know I could serve them without but burgers aren’t the same unless they’re in buns are they? Iceland do some great frozen bread products including burger buns and hot dog buns – 12 for 99p so very similar to buying them fresh but with the convenience of having them in the freezer ready to quickly defrost (and I mean quick – 30 seconds in the microwave) and serve.
4) One thing I was over the moon with when we went to Iceland is the way the freezers are set up to help people on Slimming World. Not only do they have the amazing Slimming World food range but there are signs around the shop telling you which products are syn free. The Slimming World ready meals are £3 each and I’ve always got a couple in the freezer now for when I need something quick and easy. They’re really big portion sizes and you certainly don’t feel like you’re on a diet when you eat them! Here’s the Slimming World paella meal….
5) Ready cooked frozen chicken strips have been brilliant as I can simply defrost the right amount and add to meals like egg fried rice, risottos and fajitas with no fuss at all. It’s so versatile that I can also use it in pasta dishes to serve hot for tea or cold for packed lunches and even in sandwiches for lunches. I always have a bag in the freezer now!
6) Like the chicken above, I think more along the lines of buying ingredients that can be the base of a meal now. Ready cooked meatballs are another great example of a timesaver and the ones from the Slimming World range are delicious when I don’t have time to make my own. I can add them to my homemade tomato sauce (which is frozen in batches in the freezer) or make this delicious little meal with them….
This is basically cous cous made up with stock and a carton of passata with a tin of chickpeas and some mushrooms mixed in along with the meatballs and it’s absolutely delicious. I’ve posted the full recipe over on my meal planning blog if you want to have a go at making it yourself.
7) I was pretty impressed (and very surprised) when I saw the Greggs range in store at our local Iceland. It turns out that you can buy the delicious Greggs sausage rolls and pasties frozen to cook a home for yourself! My lot love Greggs and even though the frozen range is around the same price as the fresh, it’s well worth buying some to keep in the freezer as good old sausage roll, peas and mash with gravy is one of the best foods to eat on a cold dark night. They’ve been on offer twice recently too so I’ve stocked up on our favourites for treat teas!
8) Mashed potato is something else that we love and whilst I’m more than happy to make it myself, I sometimes just don’t have the time on a night so to be able to buy it ready made to have on standby is great! We do also have a bag of frozen Yorkshire Puddings in for quick midweek teas although I always make them myself on a weekend.
9) Frozen fruit is brilliant for smoothies and just to serve with a yoghurt after tea sometimes so we’ve been trying to keep well stocked with various different ones. It’s not easy with my two fruit monsters though. 😉
10) I love the fact that you can get free delivery when you spend more than £25. You just go to the till as normal and they’ll arrange a convenient delivery time with you and drop all your shopping off at home for you which is brilliant and means I can pop in when I’m in town on my own but don’t have the hassle of carrying the bags or unpacking at home on my own.
11) As soon as I get my new freezer I’ll be making up some meal planning ‘dump’ bags using the
In conclusion, I probably spend around the same amount of money each week but the time saved preparing meals has been brilliant!
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Image credit: Shutterstock, Africa Studio
Disclosure: I received vouchers from Iceland to buy the ingredients for a recipe to share with you on my meal planning blog. This post is simply an extra as I’ve found that the points above have helped save me time. 😉