So earlier last year, I decided that I wanted to seriously tackle freezer meals as our main way of doing dinner. I knew hubby being in medical school full-time and me home with 3 kids 3 and younger would require a lot of planning for life to go smooth. Anyways, last month was my first month, which you can read about here. It was a great success and we have liked all the meals I prepared. In fact some of them are new family favorites we will eat a lot more! The only thing I wish I had done was blanch some of the vegetables before I froze them.
This month I did another big batch of cooking and finished 6 meals doubled. I planned for 8, but once I got everything out, I remembered that I hadn't bought 2 important things that would mean the prep for the last 2 meals would have to wait for another day. With some leftover meals from last month, that is all I needed to last the rest of the month.
The meals I prepared were:
Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
Spaghetti (my moms recipe, so I will put it on the blog soon, but any recipe would work)
Cilantro Lime Chicken with Black Beans and Corn
Taco Soup (my recipe, that I will also put on soon, but again any recipe would work)
Coconut Curry Tofu
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Some things I did differently or learned this time:--I labeled each bag and kept them in the same spot close to where I was prepping so they were together, out of the way and easy to grab.
--Instead of chopping all the vegetables and putting them in different bowls, I cut down on steps and mess and put all the chopped food into the labeled bags right away. I think I used 1 bowl the whole time, only because I had to mix some things in it. This made the whole process SO much faster! This time I made more meals, but it only took 2 hours, compared to the many more hours it took last time. So basically cut out the middle man and just put things straight into the bag!
--Instead of working on several meals at once, I actually did one at a time. This only worked this time because there was no cooking I had to do. Once I finished each meal, I put them in a place away from all the chopping and cooking so it didn't take up space.
--I did this last time, but forgot to mention it, but I kept the trash can right next to me so every time there was something to throw away, I put it in the garbage right away to cut down on mess. Doing this and not using extra bowls etc. my kitchen wasn't that messy! It was so nice for cleaning up afterwards!
--If there are meals that have more than 1 bag, tape them together so you dont forget on baking day. I almost forgot to take out a second bag to un-thaw one night which could have been disastrous.
--Take your meals out to freeze in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours, best 36 or 48 hours.
--Put meat into it's own bag. There probably is anything more nasty than having meat juice mixed in with your vegetables in your refrigerator!
--Like I said above, blanch potatoes, carrots or other vegetables before freezing them if you don't want them to be soggy.
--Keep a list of the meals you have in the freezer, when you made them, where they are (I have a normal freezer and a chest freezer in the garage), way to cook them (if it's a crock pot meal, that is important to note), and any thing you need with the meal like noodles for spaghetti. I have this one on our refrigerator all filled out.
All the groceries for the 16 meals cost a whooping $170! There were a few things I had already that I didn't need to buy like onions, canned tomatoes etc. But it wasn't enough to make a huge difference! Thats pretty good for 16 meals!
Next month I am going to look for more meatless/vegetarian and whole food meals. Not that these aren't but that is going to be my goal because that is the way we want to start eating. Hope I can find some good ones!