Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I love Freezer Meals

I love freezer meals because it means less work on my part, but in our house freezer meals are always homemade and not from the freezer section of the store, so they do take some time to prepare. We have limited freezer space, since we don't have a second freezer, and one week of meals is about all we can cram into our freezer.

The benefits of freezer meals far outweigh the time and mess involved when you initially prepare them. Gayle over at GCC did a nice post last week about making a double batch of a main dishes and freezing them for later. I highly recommend you read her thoughts, especially if you have the freezer space.

It took me 3 hours start to finish to prepare 5 meals. When I say finished I mean the kitchen was cleaned and mopped. (I did have a few things still on the counter cooling.) Here are the meals I prepared during my cooking marathon:
1. Chicken Noodle Soup
2. Chicken Pot Pie
3. Meat Loaf
4. Calzones
5. Chicken & Bean Burritos

You will want to do some prep work before your cooking marathon. The following is what I recommend:
1. Cook chicken needed for your recipes and any other meat needed.

I used a whole chicken for my chicken dishes, which gave me enough meat for 5 meals (one of which I doubled.) I simply put a whole chicken in the crockpot after I washed it, and added a little water to cover the bottom. Cut up one onion into large wedges and sprinkle them around the chicken, then added some salt, pepper, & thyme. I set my crockpot on low and cooked it for 8 hours. De-bone the chicken the same day once your chicken has cooled a bit, and make sure you save your broth.
To save your broth simply put a fine strainer on top of a bowl and pour the remaining chicken bones and broth into the strainer. If you don't have a fine strainer line your colander with paper towels and then dump the contents of the crockpot into your colander.Use a spoon and skim off the oil located on the top of the broth. Then add a bit of water and you have some delicious broth that you didn't have to buy.

(I stuck the whole crock in the fridge because I didn’t have time to de-bone or strain it the day before. So I warmed it up in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the broth became liquid again right before the marathon.)

2. Chop Veggies
I tend to chop veggies and freeze them when I find a good sale, so I already had some onion & celery chopped up in the freezer. If you are using dry beans make sure you have some cooked before you’re marathon day. I did have a few veggies I had to chop on marathon day, and I wished I had thought about chopping them earlier. So if you are making this exact meal plan chop some carrots in addition to your onion, & celery while you are at it.

Cooking Marathon Day
1. Start with a CLEAN kitchen, because you’ll have a ton of dishes to do at the end of your marathon and you’ll want all the sink space & counter space you have.

2. Pull out enough bowls, spoons, and other kitchen gadgets needed to prepare your meals.

3. Make a game plan. Decide on the order that you need to prepare you’re meals. The following was mine:

  • Make Pizza dough & let it rise for one hour
  • Start Rice for burritos simmer for about 45 minutes or according to package
    Make Pie Crust for Chicken pot pies
  • Finish Pot Pie & wrap in foil (but do not bake)
  • Cut up carrots and onions
  • Skim & Strain Broth and add to chicken, carrots, onion & celery, freeze
  • Make Meatloaf & Bake (1 hour)
  • Season Chicken for burritos w/ taco seasoning
  • Finish Burritos and wrap them in foil
  • Prepared the filling for calzones
  • Finish and bake calzone
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Rest
4. Next place bowls along counter and add any dry ingredients needed for each recipe near or in the bowl. (This will elevate having to go to the cupboard several times hunting for spices and cut down on the time it takes to prepare these meals.)

5. Gather up your refrigerated ingredients and place them on the top shelf of the fridge, in the order of use.

6. Get started and freeze once your dishes have cooled.

7. Make sure you write what the meal is using a sharpie and how long you’ll need to cook that dish and at what temperature.

8. Clean up your kitchen and try to put your feet up for a bit after you are finished.

To use simple take out what you want to have for dinner in the morning and place it in the fridge or you can put it in the oven frozen you’ll just want to add about 20-30 more minutes to your cook time.

For other great ideas this week check out We’re That Family for Works for Me Wednesday. Also if you want the recipe for any of these dishes come back on Thursday.

Happy Savings!


  1. I am so excited about this!! Looks like you just made our meal plan for next week! Looking forward to the recipes on Thursday!! I can tell this is going to be one of my favorite blogs!

  2. What a great menu plan! Looking forward to the recipes.

  3. Awesome, thank you SO much. I will definitely be following this awesomely laid out plan!

  4. Wow! You are busy!
    Where are the recipes? Do share.

  5. Great idea! I will check back tomorrow for the recipes.


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