Part of the "Meals for a Month" series.
Cooking a big batch of meals for your freezer can save you money in several ways. It usually requires a big initial expenditure on the cooking day itself, but you won't have to buy as much food the rest of the month. How does it save you money?
1. Buying in bulk quantities: If you are tripling a recipe or simply cooking several recipes that use the same types of ingredients, then you can buy a giant jar of spaghetti sauce, a 10 pound tube of ground beef, or a huge bag of onions at your local warehouse club. This is especially effective with products that might spoil normally in that quantity (like cottage cheese).
2. Weird/exotic ingredients: There are several recipes we like which might use 1/2 cup of coconut milk or 6 sheets phyllo dough...the remainder of those ingredients frequently dies a slow death in the back of my fridge. Tripling a recipe that uses the coconut milk enables me to use up the entire can at once. I can pick several recipes which use phyllo dough and make them all the same day to freeze.
3. Taking advantage of sales: This is especially true of meat which might go on a serious sale. Sometimes dairy products are on a big sale; make up lots of baked pasta dishes for your freezer that week if you have time.
4. Far away stores: There are lots of stores which might have a slightly cheaper price on certain things but which I don't frequent because they're not as close as my normal grocery store (or I just don't enjoy shopping there as much). The best example for me in this category is Wal-Mart (hate going there!). But, if I know I'm planning a big batch cooking day and only have to go there 1 time in order to buy ingredients for 30 different meals, it's both more worth it to drive a bit further and I can grin and bear it one time instead of many. I can take advantage of their cheaper prices on some things, buy the large quantity I might need, and then content myself with Kroger on the off weeks (frankly, I can frequently do as well at Kroger when the items I need are on sale). But I digress. We'll save my irritation with Wal-Mart for another time!
5. Eating at home v. eating out: Obviously, you will save money by eating at home more often than eating out at restaurants--even the fast food variety. Having your freezer stocked makes it that much easier to eat in. You'll be less tempted to call for pizza or Chinese takeout or head to the nearest burger joint at the end of a long day.