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
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 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
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.