Sunday, November 2, 2008

Food Friday: Freezer Meals

Yes, I know it is Sunday. I was busy. Ok, I just forgot. But better late than never, right? That seems to be the motto for my life lately.

Today I thought I would talk about freezer meals. I first found out about this idea several years ago from a friend of mine. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and filed it under "I should do that someday". Someday came when we were expecting the twins. I think it was actually after they were born and I realized that finding time to make dinner was pretty hard. And even more difficult was thinking of something every single day to make. Creativity is not one of my strong points. So it was freezer meals to the rescue! For a while I had major stockpiles- easily a month or two of meals, and I used them pretty much every day.

S0 there are a few ways to do freezer meals. We tried the book recommendation. Freezer cooking is often called "once a month cooking". Basically you take one marathon cooking day, make all your food for a month, and stick it in the freezer. Then you are done until next month. We did that method twice. It usually took both of us working all day, and we never got it all done in a day- it usually took 2 or 3 days to finish it all. After trying it twice, we decided to adjust it a little. We have tried several different methods, and what we do now works best for me. At least at this stage in my life. Once a week, I make a 'freezer meal'. I make enough for at least 3 meals, we eat one for dinner that night, and I stick the other two in the freezer. Since once a week I make 3 meals, that means that twice a week I can pull meals out of the freezer for our dinner. Once you get a supply of different meals, you can rotate them so you are eating different things every night.

Some things freeze better than others. I have 3 different freezer meal cookbooks, and there are a lot of websites with good recipes. In my freezer right now I have:
  • Enchiladas
  • Sloppy joe mix
  • Chicken and broccoli curry
  • Squash and sausage skillet
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • hamburgers
  • Black bean soup
  • Tamales
  • Lasagna

The next two weeks I will be making meatloaf and honey dijon pork chops. I love having food in the freezer, all cooked and ready to go. I don't like it for every single night, since I do have time to cook and I like different things, but those days when time is tight or energy is non-existent, or the fridge is bare, it is wonderful to be able to open the freezer and pull out a home-made dinner all cooked and just needing a little heat.

Goal progress tracker:

3 day supply of water: I consider this goal accomplished. I have my 15 gallons of recommended water, and I have two 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer. I might like a couple more, but I consider myself done with water.

30 Freezer meals: I have 14 in the freezer. In order to build up my supply, I am currently freezing 2 meals a week, and using one. It will build slowly but surely. 14 is much better than the zero I had when I started my food Friday feature.

3 month supply of non-perishables: I made one baby step for this one. I have one dinner plan, but there is still a long way to go on this.

1 year supply of basic necessities: No progress here yet. I have an appointment for the Home canning center. This is a good reminder that I need to stay focused on getting some of these things in place.


Mary Kate said...

Is your 3 month supply of non-perishables food like canned meats and fruits? Something you could make meals from without using fresh ingredients?

my goal for OCt. was to buy a weeks' worth of food and store it separate from my daily food supply so i could eventually build up a 1 month supply. As I was buying I realized that I needed to figure out what to do with the fresh to substitute them in! good post on the freezer meals! Maybe I will try that!

Kelly said...

I have been thinking alot about this too. The freezer is great. My friend owns a company called Dream Dinners so she is always pestering me to do this kind of thing. I am thankful for her encouragement. It is good to see you are doing it too.

Kim said...

You are amazing. I've tried to build some food storage, but it mostly consists of sale items and case lot sales in the fall (hence our food expenditures for Oct. were out of control). Anyway, I love how organized your method is. I definitely could work on that aspect of it all. I like your freezer meal ideas. My SIL has a food swap group where they make 10 of the same thing and then trade with 9 other ladies once a month. For me its still on my "I think I'll do that some day" list. Oh well, its fun to see your progress.

Shanna said...

Mary Kate, I have gone back and forth many times about how to get the 3 month supply. I finally decided to find recipes that use all non-perishables, and buy plenty of supplies for that recipe. I will then add in breakfast items, lunch items, and canned fruits and veggies. I will have some canned meat on hand, but not as much as we would normally eat. My goal is to be able to eat for 3 months without anything fresh, if we had to.

Kelly, freezer meals really are great. You should try them! An easy way to start is just pick something you are already making, and make two of it, then stick one in the freezer.

Kim, I have tried many different ways of stocking up our food supply. My main problem with not doing it organized is that I buy way too much of one thing (I have 6 containers of salt that are several years old and going bad), or I buy something and then use it all without replacing it. A lot of people can do it really well without a lot of planning, and it works out fine, but I am realizing that I am not one of those people. I need plans, lists, and schedules in order to make what I am doing be a success.

ali said...

I love freezer meals! I made a TON when I was 9 months pregnant and we are still benefitting from it! Another great thing to make is meat pies of one form or another because they are single serving size and easy to bake and store. I need to get Grandma's recipe one of these days...

Shanna said...

I used to make chicken pot pie a lot, but we got a little tired of it. It might be time to retry it. I want to figure out how to do it all in the crust- I usually just freeze the filling then add the crust when we make them. Something to try and figure out!

Sarah said...

I love this idea! I am totally trying it next time I make something that can be frozen easily. It's so much more manageable to make 3 dinner portions than having to cook all day to make a month's worth.