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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Freezer Meals pt 1

Life gets busy.  As a homeschool mom with 3 kids I don't always have time to think about what is for dinner.  I like to plan a weekly menu, but with boy scouts, Awana, church, Awana, Toastmasters, Banjo, Awana (yes 3x a week), co op, flute lessons, and social activities I have a hard time planning a week out.

I have frozen meals in the past, just not in large quantities.  Recently I have been reading blogs about freezing mass quantities of meals for super cheap.  I just want a few extra meals in the freezer for busy nights.

Double cooking is not always an option.  I like the idea of spending 1 day cooking a dozen meals or so, and being done with cooking for several days.  Sounds extreme, but  it's just so much easier for my schedule.  If I can buy 6 chickens and make a dozen casseroles, my kids are fed, and I am done cooking for 12 nights.

I will not be feeding my kids the same thing everynight for 2 weeks.  I'm not crazy.  I get a few friends - who are as crazy as I am - and we trade!  Just last night we did this.  There were only 4 of us, so we each traded 2 meals.  I had 4 of my enchiladas, 2 chicken pot pies, 2 gallons of chilli and 2 gallons of chicken soup.  LOVE IT!

If you have never done this before, check out this blog, or this one.  Lots of good info.  Most important, in my book, use ziplock freezer bags when possible and freeze them flat.  To make the bags flat, simply put them on a cookie sheet.  You will either need multiple cookie sheets, or put a towel/wash rag/parchment between the ziplock bags so they won't freeze together.  If your recipe simply cannot work in a ziplock, use a cheap-o dollar store foil tin.  I have found these things in sets of 3-4 for under $2.  With heavy duty foil, they are pretty freezer safe.

Weather you have a meal swap, or just stock your own freezer, make sure you put the NAME of the recipe, DATE, and INSTRUCTIONS on the meal (ie, how long to cook, cook from frozen or thawed, do you need anything extra?).

How do I keep up with what is in the freezer?  Like this. Such a simple idea, why didn't I think of it?! I use dry erase on everything!

How long will meals last?

Using raw meat -

  • Chicken - 10 months
  • Fish 2-3 months
  • Ground beef - 3 months
  • Pork Roast 4-6 months
  • Beef roast -9 months
  • Pork chops/ribs 2-3 months
  • Steaks 7-9 months
  • Whole chicken/turkey 6 months
Cooked meals - 

  • Meat and poultry in sauce - 5-6 months
  • Pasta dishes 2-3 months
  • Sauces, soups, stews 5-6 months
  • Egg dishes -3 months

Gift Giving

Another reason I love having fully prepared meals in my freezer is that any time I know someone is struggling (financially, just had a baby/ death in the family, medical emergency.....) I am prepared with a yummy dinner!  
This is also one of my favorite things to give my MIL.  2x for Christmas I have given her 8-10 frozen meals.  With only 3 in the house, this is a month or more of dinners and lunch for them.  She is disabled and loves not having to cook!

Next time I will post recipes!

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