The very week Whitney returned from her honeymoon – more than three years ago – we started making freezer meals together. I found a web site I really liked that gave detailed menus, prep instructions and shopping lists and we decided it was the best way for her to tackle the wife-war that is COOKING. Turns out, the poor child was raised by a woman who loved to cook and loved to teach…and yet totally failed to teach her daughter how to cook. So sad, and I’m still trying to rectify that whole situation.
Here are some things I love about freezer meals and, specifically – Saving Dinner – the site we use for most of what we make.
- Nothing is cooked ahead – it’s just prepped. I don’t like programs that have you do the cooking ahead and then just thaw and re-heat at dinner time. For most foods, prep, cook, freeze, re-cook = blech.
- This program does not require the expensive freezer dishes and does not revolve around the sacred casserole. Freezer bags, baby!
- Money! We’ve done this a lot of different ways, and it just saves us a ton of money. I’ll give you the dirt on that in a bit.
- Time! Though preparing a few weeks’ worth of meals definitely eats up a chunk of our day (about 3 hours to make 10-15 meals) it is so worth it to come home from work and have time to sit and relax while dinner cooks. Another thing that’s been great is to have meals at the ready when I run into someone who needs one.
- Fun! Whit and I love this day. It definitely gets long and there are moments when we just stand back and look at the calamity that is my kitchen in astonishment and dread, but we play music and talk and have time hanging out and it really is totally fun.
So, Friday was the day. Here’s Whit working on Chicken Parmesan:
For this one, we do the pounding of the chicken, the breading process and then we freeze those on a cookie sheet (otherwise they’ll stick together) while we make the rest of the meals. In three or four hours, Whit will pull these guys out of the freezer and put them in our very favorite thing: a freezer bag! In another bag she’ll put the parmesan & mozzarella cheese that bakes on top and in another, the marinara sauce. She’ll put all those bags together for a dinner kit which she can assemble and cook after work in about 30 minutes and serve with pasta. Or it could be, that this particular meal will never actually see the light of her freezer. It could be that it was cooked that very night for dinner. That’s how Whit rolls with the Chicken Parmesan.
We needed 20 cloves of minced garlic for all these recipes and the food processor handled that job in about 1.2 seconds flat. It also took care of about a million onions. I would never get the food processor out for one recipe – but for 10 meals, it’s totally worth it and it cuts the prep time in half.
We LOVE freezer bags! And Taco Soup – we made a HUGE batch because we both like to put it in the crock pot before church and then know we can invite lots of people over for lunch afterward.
Speaking of Taco Soup – there it is now! Mine is on the right – we like it with more spice, more lime and more cilantro than Whit and Corey do, so we keep them separate.
Foil packets with fish, asparagus, a balsamic marinade and sesame seed. These guys can go right onto the grill for 20 minutes or so. Easy peesy!
So, here’s what we made. Whit took home enough for three, so they can have company or leftovers for lunch and I keep enough for 5-6. Her meals ended up being $5.33 each and mine were about $10 even.
- Apricot Glazed Chicken
- Cuban Pork
- Sloppy Joes
- Mexican Chicken
- Chicken Parmesan
- Taco Soup
- Parmesan Tilapia
- Ginger Pork Stir Fry
- Asparagus Balsamic Cod
Behold: Ten meals. Two prep hours (lists & grocery shopping). Three hours actual meal prep. One hour cleanup. A pretty great way to spend the day! The only thing missing? One girl to sit on the counter, telling us complex and unrelated stories. Oh, how I’m longing for spring break!