9/13/13

Are You Freezing?


I like making things as simple as possible when it comes to meal planning. When you've got more than 1 or 2 mouths to feed on a daily basis, and some with pickier or more selective tastes than others, things can get rather complicated. I try and make a basic menu plan for dinner that I use as a starting point for my weekly grocery list. 

We have rather simple meals, mainly because cooking isn't my favorite thing in the world, and getting home right at 6 pm with 2 kids whining "Mom, I'm so huuuuungry" even after they've had a snack in the car, doesn't bode well for anything that takes longer than 15-20 minutes from prep to the table without a riot breaking out.

I recently did a freezer cooking afternoon (I mean, really, who has time for "all day" unless it's sewing or going to a spa?), and thought I'd share the meals I prepared in this post. In Part 2, I'll share some tips-and-tricks to keep the process as simple as possible no matter how many meals you're making.

Sometimes it is as simple as just cooking up (grill,bake,skillet,etc..) a bunch of meat to use in things like chili, tacos, and fajitas. Sometimes it takes more work like chopping, dicing, mincing, pouring, etc.. Regardless, I tend to freeze foods and meals that are easy (and relatively quick!) to prepare, so the whole process of getting 8-12 meals done is about 3-4 hours which I either bang out by staying up late one night, or when I have a couple days off like I did last week and the kids are in school....you do-whatcha-gotta-do to make it happen.


Here's what I made this time around (each meal serves 4. Click HERE for a copy of my recipes):

  • Crockpot Honey Rosemary Chicken (2 meals) 
  • Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken (2 meals)
  • Easy Chicken Stir-Fry (3 meals)
  • Crockpot Garlic Basil Chicken (3 meals)
...can you tell boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale?
  •  Lemon Herb Salmon (1 meal) 

Meals piling up!



In addition to the meals made above, I prepped the following meats (this took about another 45 minutes) for future use:
  • 2 lbs. of ground turkey cooked in a skillet with onions and green peppers to use in chili and/or sloppy joe's (makes 2 meals)
  • 3 lbs of ground turkey separated into 1 lb. segments, each mixed with 1 roll of Jimmy Dean sausage w/sage. I freeze each segment of turkey/sausage mixture into separate bags. These make easy (and delicious!) turkey burgers or sliders to throw on the George Forman when it's a little too nippy outside to stand over the grill.
I still plan to prep a casserole, 2 chicken pot pies, and preseason about 12 pork chops (3 meals) sometime this month (waiting for them to go on sale!). Just about everything above keeps for a minimum of 3-4 months, and I've been known to stretch it a few months longer than that.  

So basically instead of using every meal, every day of the week, they are rotated into my weekly menu plan once or twice per week. Sometimes we go a couple weeks without using any of them. Sometimes we eat them more than 2 times in a week...it all depends on how crazy it is around here. When you use your freezer meals this way, they last longer, you get more variety, and you don't have to half-kill yourself in the process, making you swear to never do it again.




In case you're wondering, here's what a basic menu plan using 2 of these meals looks like for us:

Monday: Leftovers from Sunday dinner (I tend to make a larger meal on Sunday, i.e. roast chicken or meatloaf) w/a vegetable
Tuesday: Crockpot Garlic Chicken w/ rice and green beans
Wednesday: Turkey Sliders w/sweet potato fries
Thursday: 10 min. spaghetti and meatballs w/broccoli and salad
Friday: Pizza (or soup and grilled cheese) and Movie Night
Saturday: Fend for yourself night...just kidding...kind of. We either eat out, bring something in, or eat leftovers. Because hey, Mom needs a break, and did I mention if it was just me, I would be perfectly content eating cereal 2-3 nights a week?
Sunday: refer to Monday parentheses

That's it! I change out several meals each week, using freezer meals or some other stand-by's like baked fish, penne pasta bake, and rotisserie chicken from Costco (which also makes great "leftover" chicken quesadilla's the next day) I'd love to see your comments on how you make meal planning easier. Do you freezer cook in 1 big cooking day, or do you spread it out over time like I do?

CGM

I'm partying with this post and others over here:






6 comments:

  1. I have been wanting to try this type of cooking for a few years now. When I was first introduced to it, it was called "30 Day Cooking". I had a coworker that practiced this and she made it sound like heaven. Thanks for the tips, this is just the encouragement and kick in the pants I needed to get started.

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    1. Regina, I started my "freezer cooking journey" with 30 Day Cooking too! I even have the "original" ladies on VHS tape lol. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you DO get started. Please drop me a line with what you make - I'm always looking for good and simple recipes that work in the freezer!

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  2. I had a big freezer meal cook-off at the end of August and like you, it gets rotated into the weekly menu. It has been a life saver since school began. I'll have to try the crock pot recipes next time around!

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    1. I love my crockpot, trying desperately not to buy the gorgeous "quilt pattern" one at Target, but if it goes on sale that sucker is MINE! Thanks for stopping by Sandi.

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  3. I really want to try this! Have you ever thought of getting a vacuum sealer? I have the cheapest model Costco sells and I love it! No freezer burn. When you thaw it, the food is in the same state it was before you froze it.

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    Replies
    1. I just printed the recipes and see that you do indeed use a vacuum sealer for your bags. :)

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