"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Monday, June 14, 2010

Freezer meals

Last Friday a friend and I got together (along with our 7 children) to prepare freezer meals. It has been on my radar to do this for a long time. With summer in full swing, I am realizing that I don't want to be slaving away in the kitchen. I want to be outside enjoying the nice weather (when it doesn't rain) too. Now I have 8 meals in the freezer, ready to pull out and bake for an easy supper. I'm sorry I don't have pictures to go along with this. I am new to this blogging business and keep forget to take pictures of our activities. Here are my tips for freezer meal marathons:

1. The most important part of mass freezer meal preparation is planning. I first made a list of our meals. Then I made a grand ingredient list. I went through each dish and wrote the ingredients on the grand list. I made tally marks for multiple items. I like to plan and organize, so this was actually fun for me.

2. Pre cook the meat. I figured out exactly how much meat we would need, both cooked and raw. I had her bring the ground beef, already cooked. I made the chicken, already cooked. I simply cooked it in a crock pot then shredded it the day before.

3. Have all the non perishable ingredients, recipes, and tools laid out. One of the difficult parts is having someone else try to figure out your kitchen. So, I had the ingredients and containers laid out in meal groups on the table. For example, there was a tater tot casserole section with 2 containers, the recipe, 2 cans of green beans, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, and seasonings. All the refrigerated items for the day were in one area of the refrigerator. I also had all my mixing bowls, spatulas, and measuring cups in the middle of the table ready to go. This handy tip was from my sister Marissa who has done this before.

4. Buy your containers at the dollar store. I got packages of 3 foil 9x9 containers with lids for $1. All in all, we spent $64 to makes 16 good sized meals for a family of 5. I stocked up on chicken when it was $1.89/lb at Fareway. The rest of the ingredients were from Aldi. I love Aldi.

6. Prepare the meals with a friend who has a similar size family. That makes it easy to split the meals if you both need the same size portions. We had a lot of kids running around when we were preparing the meals, but they were better entertained with friends there than if I had done this without visitors. Plus, it was fun to have another adult to chit chat with while we worked.

The meals we made were: rainy day chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken tetrazzini, chicken rice casserole, sweet and sour chicken, tater tot casserole, baked pasta, and meatloaf. It is great to know there are delicious meals just waiting for us in the freezer.


Julie said...

I've been doing a version of this with a group of gals for about a year and a half. However, here's our take on it.

Once a month, an email is sent out to the ladies on the list. If we are in that month, we respond to everyone what we'll be making. By the second week of the month, the lady in charge emails how many dishes we need to make for the exchange, usually 2 weeks later. Then, we make multiples of one dish and show up at someone's house to exchange. For example, last month I froze marinated pork chops for grilling and added a box of Stove Top Stuffing. There were 5 of us participating, so I brought 4 bags of chops, 4 boxes of stuffing and left mine at home. I came home with 4 different meals for the freezer. Obviously, the more who participate, the more variety we have. This works well because we only have to make one recipe (times the number participating.)

I love having a ready to cook meal in the freezer that I haven't prepared. It's like eating at someone else's house!

Laura said...

We do a version of this as well (and similar to the previous commenter)--we call it a cooking co-op--there are 3 of us who cook meals together. We don't actually get together to cook, however. We each make 3 different recipes, so we make 3 batches of of each recipe (one to keep, one for family1 and one for family 2). I do a similar prep to what you do--long ingredient list, pre-cook meat, etc. then take a Saturday or Sunday evening to cook while the kids get some Daddy time.

We then exchange the first week of the month. We each have 9 freezer meals at the beginning of each month. Instead of disposable pans, we actually bought all matching Pyrex 9x13 pans with lids and several large glass Pyrex bowls with lids(cheap at an outlet mall) so we could exchange them easily--doesn't matter whose is whose, they are identical, and they hold up so well.

I love to have food done and ready to go as well--kind of necessary with 4 kids, right? :)

The O's said...

I love it! Such great ideas! I need to try this!!