Freezer Meal 101

If you are just getting your feet wet with freezer meals, go check out this post first.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's get started....

Step #1 - Decide on 15 meals. The easiest part to get 30 meals is to do 2 of each meal. I am probably only going to freezer meals 4 nights a week. Friday is homemade pizza night and the weekends I'll have more time to cook and will probably do fish or something - since we have an excess. So, if I average 4 meals a week, these meals will last me 8 weeks. Enough time to have enough space between meal #1 and meal #2 of each one. Hope that makes sense. Some of them I KNOW my kids will love so I made double those recipes.

15 meals - the book I read suggested you do 2 crock pot meals, 2 oven meals, 2 stove top meals and 9 assemble meals. I have 2 crock pots so I was able to double even the crock pot recipes and not be short on time. The idea is that you start the first crock pot meal, start the oven meal and put it in the oven, start the stove top meal and then work on your assemble recipes. VERY IMPORTANT - make a recipe card of each of the recipes. The last thing you wan to to have to do on cooking day is try and find where the recipes are. It was tedious, but it sure was helpful. I did it while I watched TV. I marked each card with freezer then crock pot, oven, stove top or assemble.

Step #2 - Make your lists. List #1 is your item list. Write EVERYTHING down. Then, take that list to your pantry and cross off the things you already have. It's VERY inconvenient to run out of something and have to wait on that meal for another day. (I broke down into meat, produce, dairy, frozen, pasta, canned goods. You get the idea.) Then, I made a list of what to get at Costco and what to get at the regular store. If Costco had it, it was a better idea to get it there, just because I was using things in bulk. Note - you don't need chicken broth. You'll understand in a bit, but you don't need to buy this.

Step #3 - Buy your food. DON'T do this on cooking day. It's too much for 1 day. I did it the morning the day before. Cleaned my kitchen that afternoon (it's VITAL to start with a clean kitchen) and then did some cooking the night before. When you get home from shopping, I put everything out on the counter. The crock pot meal ingredients (that didn't need to be in the fridge or freezer) went by the crock pot area. The oven ones by the oven, the stove top ones on the other side of the oven and the assemble ones along the long counter so I could assemble.

Step #4 - The night before cooking day, I boiled all my chicken breasts (took 2 pans). The leftover water will be your chicken broth. How great is that? :) I browned all my hamburger with the combined ingredients for each recipe (most of them say to brown with onions, green peppers, mushrooms and/or garlic.) I chopped all the onions, green peppers and mushrooms. I sliced the green peppers and onions. Everything was ready for cooking day. This made everything SO much smoother. I was able to do more than 1/2 my meals in 4 hours. I had to break mine up into 2 days because I had plans until 1:30 on cooking day.

Also beforehand, it's nice to have the labels prepared with cooking instructions once your meals are thawed and ready to cook. I also put the date on these. I also made sure I had space cleared in the freezer for my FINE creations. Some of the recipes are freezer to crock pot. These recipes are golden and I did 4 of each one. You can wake up and realize that you forgot to take something out the day before. So hello freezer-crockpot meal!! And, the lasagna one is a recipe that my friends daughter LOVED even though she doesn't normally like lasagna. Something about the way the crockpot cooks it. She's been begging for the recipe ever since! SO Cute!!

Cooking day - make sure you have a stiff drinks or caffinated beverages! Be prepared to be extremely tired. My legs killed at the end of each day. Play music loud. Do what you have to do to keep yourself sane. The time will be much more enjoyable and pass quicker if you are singing or occupied.

One note: buy EXTRA heavy aluminum foil.  I bought the super long one at Target and use SO much less.  The width of the foil is the length of a 9 x 13 pan with enough left over for tucking.  Perfect for your pans. Make sure you buy foil that says freezer on it.  I didn't skimp by buying the store brand.  It is better to buy the toughest brand.  What good is all this work if your food isn't going to be any good??  :)  One other nice thing, is I bought the crock pot liners so that there was no clean up required.  Switching was easy between the two crock pot meals and by the end of the day, I was SO sick of dishes that I was super gratefull to not have to wash both my crock pots.

Another note: I bought the 9x9 and 9x13 pans with NO lids.  You are going to be using extra heavy foiling.  Doing spend the $$ on the lids when you won't use them.  They aren't too expensive, but totally worth your sanity!  Most of the dishes can be frozen in Freezer bags.  Do your self a favor.  Buy Ziploc heavy duty freezer bags with standing bottoms.  They freeze better and they are easier to stack in your freezer.

Another idea.  For 1 month, double your dinner.  Every night, take a recipe and make it twice.  You will pay a ton in grocery's that month, but, you will slowly build up your freezer meals. Then, the next month, you don't have to pay for dinners.  NICE!!  I do a little bit of both.

1 comment:

  1. I am soooo going to use some of these recipes! I also like to do breakfast burritos, then Chris can have a hot breakfast (other than oatmeal) AND (BONUS) the kids can pop one of those babies in the microwave and make their OWN breakfast if I'm busy with the baby in the mornings!