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Friday, July 4, 2014

Freezer cooking how to

With so many people in the house, and such busy schedules, I don't have time to cook every single night.  But my family deserves a hot meal every single night.  I refuse to go to Mickey D's, Jack in the Box, or eat out at most places.  

1)  It gets expensive really quick.  Even if I give everyone a $3 limit, times 6 people, I am spending at least $18.  Plus tax.  Even half price shushes at Sonic, I will spend at least $12.  Do you realize what I can buy for $10 at the grocery store!

2)  There is nothing healthy about it.  Even Subway.  You're eating a yoga mat (I know, I know, I am exaggerating, but come on - how many chemicals do you need in bread!?)

3)  I don't like the mess left in the truck.  It smells bad and attracts bugs.

Soooo, I freeze meals.  A lot of meals.  Sure, I could run to Kroger and get some frozen lasagna, maybe some chicken parm, but it's not homemade.  It certainly isn't as healthy (I use a lot of healthy substitutions), and it is still expensive (still $12-15 for a main course).

The freezer meals I make are generally pre-cooked.  This means that if we have doctor appointments late in the day, a flute lesson, then church in less than an hour - my kids can still eat at home.  And they can eat more than just a sandwich.  If the meal is pre-coked, it can be pulled out of the deep freezer, microwaved, and served in less than 15 minutes.  On a non-busy day, I can put it in the oven, on the stove, or even in the crock pot.

So, now that you know the why.  Here is the how.

Some people just make a double batch of everything and freeze half.  That works.  But if I am going to do something, I usually go big.  I don't have time to cook daily, so I can't guarantee that I can cook every other day.  I don't go nuts and make 30 meals in a day, but I do take one recipe a weekend (maybe 2 if I am super ambitious and the recipes are really easy enough) and make 10-12 batches.
Yup.  That's a lot.
No, I don't feed my family the same thing for 10-12 meals.  I pull them out over the next few weeks when that meal sounds good.  I get tired of the same thing over and over again.  I also have meals for blessing others.  When the neighbor has her baby, when my friends kid is in the hospital and she doesn't have time to cook, for my mom when she is working a lot of over time.....
In this photo you see a lot of food.  I made a chicken tortilla soup. 18 quarts of it.  This is a huge turkey roaster that I use - a lot.This is the perfect place to mix large batches of chili and soups.  You don't need something this big, I know that not every kitchen can hold something this big.  I have often layered the ingredients right in the bags.  Less dishes that way :)

After mixing (if I mix) put roughly 3/4 of a gallon of soup into the bag.

HINT:  roll the top of the bag down so that the zipper part cannot get dirty.

Freeze flat.  I like to put my bags flat on a cookie sheet so that they stay flat.  That usually means that I only freeze a bag or two at a time, but the others stay in the fridge.

HINT:  Don't put hot stuff in the fridge or freezer - you will change the temp of the fridge/freezer and potentially ruin the food in direct contact with what you just put in.  Completely cool your food before freezing.

So, whether you freeze half of a double batch, or you go nuts and make 30 meals in a day, just remember that the extra work now will pay off on that busy night when you don't feel like cooking.

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