Monday, June 11, 2012

Dinner Plans

We have a guest post today.  Enjoy.

Hi, I’m Laura, Cathy’s older sister. She says I’m her favorite sister, but, then again, I’m her ONLY sister so I guess she has limited choices. Cathy asked me to do a guest blog post on freezer cooking. I am a working mother with a crazy work schedule some times. My husband works night shift so he isn't home for dinner a lot. I didn't see the point in cooking on night he wasn’t home. I was tired of eating EasyMac and chicken nuggets every night, but I was too tired or didn't have time to cook something better.

About 2 years ago, my sister and her friend introduced me to freezer cooking. I had never really heard about it or tried anything like it before, but it seemed like a good idea. We got together and cooked a bazillion different meals (O.k. that’s just an estimate), bagged it all up, and put it in our freezer. This was AWESOME! I got something out of the freezer for dinner in the morning to thaw before I went to work; I threw it in oven or microwave when I got home. Wha-la, dinner!

This was all well and great, but I had trouble keeping track of what was left in my freezer and we really only cooked a few meal components. So this past year I decided to take this freezer cooking thing one step further. I sat down with my calendar and decided to actually plan out our specific meals for each night. I decided to keep it fairly simple.

  • I came up with a list of 12 meals (main dishes + sides) that we all liked and put them in a 2 week rotation (I didn't include Wednesdays since we eat at church.) It looked something like this:

          1 - potato soup w/ cornbread

          2 - burgers and dogs w/ mac n cheese

          3 - cornflake chicken w/ hashbrown casserole

          4 - ham & pineapple w/ baked corn casserole


  • I made a list of ingredients and what needed to be cooked and how. 
  • Then I made 4 batches of each meal. We are a family of 3 and don’t need an entire casserole for dinner so a lot of things I made 2 full dishes and divided each in half for a total of 4. This gave me a total of 48 meals which lasts for 8 weeks.
  • I assigned each meal a specific day of the week. For instance, on Mondays I get home late, so I always planned my crock pot meal for that day. I wrote on the calendar what was for dinner each night. 

  • I label each freezer bag with what is in the bag (Duh!), the night it is for, and a # 1 through 4. All the 1s go on a freezer shelf together, all the 2s together, etc. This gives me 2 weeks of food per shelf. 

  • I keep one shelf full in my kitchen freezer for easy access in the mornings to thaw. When my kitchen freezer is empty, I grab another shelf worth.

This method has really worked for us. It keeps me from fixing “junk” for dinner like Easy Mac and
chicken nuggets. It allows me more time with my family and less time in the kitchen cooking each
evening. It eliminates the “what should we have for dinner?” dilemma. It actually keeps my husband and I from overeating since I serve smaller portions. And, believe it or not, it’s cheaper. I am able to buy in bulk and freeze in smaller portions.

My list is fairly simplistic and doesn’t include breakfast or lunch, but this method could definitely be
used for those as well. You could also have a much more extensive repertoire of meals and expand your calendar beyond a 2 week rotation. (I do switch out some of my meals each time I cook based on what is in season and what is on sale.)

Do you freezer cook? Do you have any recipes to share for freezing? Do you have any other meals ideas?

Thanks, Laura!   

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