Freezer meals are appealing to me, because in my house, dinner time is the most stressful time of the day. We are all hungry, I’m trying to keep Caleb entertained while simultaneously not burning the dinner and keeping him away from touching things on the counter, like raw chicken!
They (freezer meals) are just so dang simple! I make a bunch of food on a day that Paul is home and freeze them. When we need the meal, I take it out that morning so it can thaw, and then I bake it. I also love freezer meals, because I don’t have to skip healthy food in order to have a quick dinner. I can prepare food the way I always do during meal prep and save myself the worry of whats in the frozen food. It also saves me money and multiple trips to the grocery store. Anything that saves me time and having to drive somewhere is pretty awesome, especially with a new baby arriving soon.
How I save money:
I watch the sales on my biggest expenses. For me, that is meat and produce. I’m one of those annoying people who have favorite brands on meat that come from companies I trust. I also buy most, if not all, of my produce organic. Lets face it – buying organic is expensive, so I’m selective on what I buy. So when I find a good deal on multiple items, I decide from there what type of freezer meal I will make. For example, on my most recent trip to Kroger they had whole organic carrots, celery, and fresh thyme on sale. They also had the brand of ground turkey and whole chickens I like on sale. On top of that, I had a $7.00 off coupon for the meat department. And lets be honest, that is a major win that doesn’t happen often. I can count on one hand the times that my favorite brand is on sale, and I remembered the coupon that the store sent me. So, I bought the other ingredients I would need to make a few meals out of these items.
One top of scanning the sales and prices, I get more for my money. Cooking for two adults and one toddler, sometimes food can go to waste. I try to make everything I buy work for different meals, but lets face it, that doesn’t always work. I don’t always use the fresh cilantro I bought, or we don’t eat the left overs in time, or we are sick of eating the same left overs 3-4 days in a row. What I love about freezer meals is that I’m buying the same amount, sometimes slightly more, but I’m using everything. I can portion meals out, if a recipe says it will serve 8, I turn that into 2 freezer meals. Or 1 meal for dinner and 1 to freeze. You get the picture.
I usually do the bulk of my cooking for freezer meals on a cold day in October; not for poetic reasons, but because I usually have the stove and oven going for hours and it gets really hot. So needless to say its a day that we don’t need to turn the heat on.
What you need:
Freezer Ziploc bags (gallon size) – this one’s pretty obvious.
Label – I will write directly on the bag or container, the date and any cooking instructions. This will really save you time later.
Foil containers: The first time I made frozen meals I wasted all my pyrex dishes on them, which really stunk because they laid in the freezer for months when I really needed them. So, I highly suggest investing in some foil containers. The nice part is when the meal is over you can just throw them away, easy clean up. Or you can wash them to get another use out of them. The choice is yours.
I have shared my love of the Kate Gosselin cook book with you before. My other love is the Pioneer Woman – Ree Drummond. Most of my recipes come from these two ladies. I love their cooking style and recipes that use real ingredients, plus it’s food the whole family will eat.
For dinner one night, I tripled a batch of Kate’s “herbie chicken,” I then separated it into three meals. It’s a family favorite, but to be honest it does take some time to make. Especially because the brand of chicken I buy doesn’t come in strips, only thick breasts so I have a little more prep work. When it’s time to eat this meal, the hard part is done. All that’s left to do is add a quick side dish. Something like oven green beans, or Ree shares this amazing recipe for roasted carrots on her blog. (I apologize that I can’t share this recipe, because she does not have it on her blog, but you should get her cook book).
In the cold months, I love comfort food like chicken pot pie. It’s warm and filling. I love Ree’s recipe for chicken pot pie but never thought to freeze it until I saw her episode on Food Network that was all about freezer meals. For me, this recipe yielded 3 frozen chicken pot pies. I can’t wait for it to get cold so I can eat them! Really, pot pies are a meal that stands alone, it has meat, carbs, and vegetables all in one.
I also saw, on the same episode, her recipe for sour cream noodle bake. I have to tell you, she had me until she said it had cottage cheese in it, because I HATE cottage cheese. Even when she said that I would never taste it, I thought, “yeah right!” Nevertheless, I went to her blog post on that episode and saw that a lot of people tried the recipe and didn’t notice the cottage cheese, so I gave it a try. Let me tell you its yummy and so easy to make!
When pork roast goes on sale, I like to find the biggest one I can get and split it into two or three meals. I often will chop up carrots and potatoes to throw in with it. I usually season the meat when I go to cook the meal – it’s just a preference.
I will share more recipes as I make them. 🙂