For the last 4 or 5 days I have embarked on something I have wanted to do for about 2 years. I have stocked my freezer with lots of meals, sauces, and treats. Years ago I was in a freezer meal group, we met together once a month and traded meals. I would make 6 of the same meal and then trade with the other moms for their meals. It was very helpful and a great time spent monthly with some awesome friends. I learned a lot through that group about buying chicken cheaper, what freezes well, and the all important lesson of many hands make light work.
For a long while I have been reading online about meals that freeze well and how to best organize the mass amount of shopping, prep,and cooking. As school is getting closer, I knew I wanted to get organized before Jeff goes back to work and the kids activities increase. I think it is so important for our family to eat dinner together. It also is better for us and saves a ton of money.
I really have found tons of help from moneysavingmom.com. She has some great printables and posts with recipe ideas and organization tools.
My first advice for you is to start small. When you are making something consider doubling it and freezing the second batch. I started doing this with spaghetti sauce. I make homemade sauce (canned tomatoes not fresh). We would always have some left over and I hated to throw it away. I began to save it in a freezer bag. It was great to use on a night we were busy and I just needed to make some pasta. Pioneer Woman’s blog thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/07/freezer-cooking has some great advice for what freezes well. You don’t just have to make lots of casseroles for freeze.
Plan, plan, plan! Organize, organize, organize! I found the number of recipes I wanted to make. I then printed out all the recipes and checked the cabinets for ingredients I already had on hand. Make sure to check all ingredients. I hate when I think I have brown sugar or garlic powder only to find out we are out. Next, I look at each recipe and think about what need to be prepped. I made a list of grading cheese, chopping onion, shredding chicken, making spice rubs and veggie prep. Just as an example I need 6 cups total of grated jack cheese. I needed 4 onions cut up. It makes it nice to do it all together. This way you only have to clean up once. This helped me break up the time of work. I knew that I only had an hour to work so I could prep some things but not dive into cooking. My kids helped too. My 10 year old Cadyn helped use the food processor to grate 3 different kinds of cheese.
After I shopped for everything, prepped the ingredients it was time to cook. Some recipes are quick and easy to put together and others take some time. Pace yourself and spread it out over some time.
So these are some of the recipes I made this week. Each one I tried to make 2 of to freeze (or eat on these crazy days when I have been in the kitchen a lot).
1. Taco Meat- Super easy. Brown a pound or so of ground turkey, add one package taco seasoning and 1 can of chili beans. I cook that all up and then let it cool. Next I place it in a gallon freezer bag. It helps to flatten it out so it will stack in the freezer.
2. Taco Bowls- http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/07/taco-chicken-bowls/ This a crockpot meal. So the chicken is not cooked I just put all the ingredients into a ziplock so I can defrost and dump it into the crockpot.
4. White Chicken Endhiladas http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/12/white-chicken-enchiladas-with-green.html
6. Catalina Chicken- http://www.ourbestbites.com/2012/11/easy-sweet-and-sour-catalina-chicken/
9. Chocolate Chip cookies. I make the dough and then rolls out the cookie balls. I place them on a cutting board, cover them with plastic wrap, and then freeze them. Once they are frozen I pop all the dough balls into a gallon zip lock. (This is a dangerous thing to have available to you at night. Just a warning! :))
There are still some other recipes to share. I just need to learn how to safe a pdf file for you to look at. As seen in the pictures I use foil disposable pans. They freeze well and make clean up a lot easier.
None of this could be possible without my husband who hung out with my kiddos for days so I could shop, prep, and cook.
Please ask any questions you have. Good luck and happy freezer cooking.