Budgeting Tips, Cooking from the Cupboard, Home Organisation, Recipes

How to Save Money on Work Meals

As I have mentioned previously Mr B is a truck driver and works a rotating roster – 5 days on, 5 days off, 4 days on, 4 days off. For the time that he is ‘on’, he doesn’t come home.  He lives in his truck.  For people who might not know, trucks are pretty well set up these days if they are used for interstate or long distance work. Mr B’s truck has a large single bed or ‘bunk’ in it, a fridge and an air conditioner for use at night time when it is to hot to sleep.

Working irregular hours and driving long distances means that there are sometimes not a lot of options when it comes to meal times.  Yes there are plenty of truck stops around – but wow they are expensive.  A chicken schnitzel and vegies can cost anywhere between $18.00 to $24.00.  A steak can be as much as $30.00.  And they are the ‘healthier’ options.  If a good truck stop is not available many drivers have to rely on fast food options, such as KFC or McDonalds.  So we learnt a long while ago the importance of Mr B being able to take his own food with him.

This is the small 12 volt portable oven Mr B uses.
This is the small 12 volt portable oven Mr B uses.

The best thing we ever bought is a small 12 volt warming oven which plugs into a cigarette lighter plug. We use small foil trays to freeze the meals in and these trays fit into the oven perfectly.  This means that he can have a hot evening meal.  This one comes from Dick Smith, but I’m sure they are available at other stores.

He also takes cold meat, cheese, bread, muesli bars, nuts and lots of fruit with him and eats this for breakfast and lunch.

We usually have a big cook up every 3 or 4 months so as he has a variety of meals to choose from, frozen in our freezer. Last weekend we were due to restock the freezer so I thought I would share with you what we did.

Mr B made a list of the meals he would like to cook.  He is not a fussy eater, but likes home-style food and doesn’t mind if things are spicy or hot.  Of course what we cook also has to freeze well.  These are the meal ideas that he came up with:-

Cooking the silverside in the slow cooker meant we could cook other things on the stove top.
Cooking the Silverside in the slow cooker meant we could cook other things on the stove top at the same time.
  • Shepherds Pie
  • Macaroni Mince
  • Curried Sausages
  • Fish Pieces and Fried Rice
  • Pasta Bake
  • Silverside and Potato Bake
  • Meatloaf and Vegies
  • Chicken Stir Fry
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Chicken Schnitzel and Vegies
  • Sausages, Vegies and Onion Gravy
  • Rissoles and Fried Rice

 

We did an inventory of what we had in the cupboard and then went shopping.  We spent a total of $320.00.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  We never spend that in an actual week but you won’t believe what we produced for that money.  Most meals were made from scratch, using fresh ingredients , with the exception of the fish pieces and rissoles.  Everything has loads of vegies in it and because we use the same size containers all the time, portion control is not a problem.

Fried rice made from scratch, lots of vegies in it too.
Fried rice made from scratch, lots of vegies in it too.
Make sure you label and date everything before you put it in the freezer.
Make sure you label and date everything before you put it in the freezer.

In total we ended up with 112 meals.  Each meal cost us a grand total of $2.85. Yes you read that right – $2.85!  So if Mr B is away for 5 nights that is $14.25 for his meals for the week.  Not bad!

This is just what one shelf of our freezer looks like after our big cook-up.
This is just what one shelf of our freezer looks like after our big cook-up.

It might seem like a lot of work but it is so worth it money wise.  Especially as one of my goals this year is to cut our spending, especially on food.  The other thing is that anyone can adapt this to suit their individual needs.  There are so many people who work away from home or work shift work and making a stack of meals like we do is an ideal way to make sure that you always have a meal available.  It will also stop you from buying expensive take away, which is often not good for you, especially if you are watching your weight or have food allergies or intolerance’s.  Most work places these days have a microwave, so switch the foil trays for microwave safe containers and you will soon see the savings add up.

If you don’t have time to cook in one big hit like we did, just cook extra at night when you cook your family dinner and freeze the leftovers.

Love Me

 

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