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The idea of freezer meals have attracted me for a long time. Having something already prepared waiting for me to take out and cook. I’ve messed around with it here and there, bought several freezer cookbooks, frequented many internet articles and blogs dedicated to the subject, but have been unable to successfully create a freezer meal plan that works for me and my hungry family. Here are two of the plans I have used:
I got this plan from the book Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. With this plan you buy the bulk trays of food from your local warehouse club and make a triple recipe from it. Viola! Three meals in the time it took to make one! Just freeze, then thaw and cook when you’re ready to eat it.
Pros: The basic premise of this book, that it is a time and money saving way to feed your family, is very accurate to it’s content. It’s concepts are well presented and the recipes are, for the most part, very good. This book continues to be a go-to book for some of the recipes as well as the general principles of a good freezer meal plan.
Cons: As I did not have the freezer space, nor the money, to make meals that we were not going to eat within the month, we grew tired of eating the same meal three times in a short span of time. Also, there was one meal we absolutely did not like, yet there were still two more of them in the freezer! It felt like a waste of food, space and money. Luckily, we were able to pawn those off on a couple church potlucks — shhh.
Concensus: There are a couple of meals I have kept from this book like the Lasagna (a family favorite), and the homemade red sauce. But as an overall freezer meal plan — it is not something I have been able utilize to it’s fullest potential at this time.
Slow Cooker Freezer Packs
I purchased an inexpensive plan for 20 meals (or ten if you need to serve 8 people like I do) from a freezer meal website. I received a shopping list including everything I would need to buy, 10 individual recipes, the assembly line instructions, and Ziploc labels. It was really well organized. It was something I had never done before, and had been nervous about trying, but I was tight on time (and brain power) so I decided it was worth a shot.
I started early in the morning and prepped all the veggies and set them out on my counter. The program boasts that it is a two hour process after prep, but as the prep took me four hours I felt like it was a little misleading.
I then followed the instructions on putting the bags together. It was really simple once I got to this stage. And the packages all looked very pretty and appetizing.
Result: Pretty food that, unfortunately, didn’t taste as good as it looked. What I ended up with was a low quality dinner experience. Putting everything together raw like that, freezing it, and then throwing it in the crock pot resulted in food that had a rubbery texture and all tasted the same. I enjoy cooking good food and was embarrassed to serve these to my family. While we did eat them all, we were counting down the days until they would be gone. I also cooked several of them in the oven so they would have better flavor and texture.
Will I Quit? … Nope!
As a busy mom with a full-time job, that is home educating my six children in addition to my many other hats, I need to find a way to make the household chore of feeding my family every night less time-consuming. So I need a new method, one that involves meals that I already know my family likes. One where I get to cook my way, but with less day-to-day prep.
I already buy my meat in bulk at the beginning of each month and separate it into gallon ziploc bags in meal-sized portions. So why not go a step further and prepare a marinade to pour in each bag prior to freezing. Most marinades have similar ingredients so I can make several fairly simply. This will save me having to thaw the meat and make a marinade on meal day. Plus, I already know what I’m making with the meat! Believe it or not, this small thing takes up a huge amount of my time in the afternoons.
I have also seen where working women will prep all the veggies and other side dishes for the coming week on Sunday, saving them valuable time in the evenings and still allowing them to eat good nutritious meals. I get lazy because I am at home and therefore I can make dinner in the afternoon. But that doesn’t mean I should! If I think like I’m a busy woman, which I am, and I need to have dinner prepared early, which I do, then it is more likely to happen. Read my post on attempting an organized meal plan to see how I implemented this idea.
To that end, I resolve to have a kind of partial freezer meal plan. With some components frozen leaving the fresh ingredients to be prepped on the weekend. Most importantly, I just want to be more organized when it comes to meals. To have a meal plan for the week set in place on Sunday will be indispensable when it comes to saving my time and sanity!