This is a peek inside our freezer. What you see there are a few little beauties called FREEZER MEALS. My friend Cherice doorbell ditched me the other day and left these at my door as the most thoughtful act of kindness ever.
I mentioned this on instagram, facebook, and twitter that day – and I was surprised to see questions like “What are freezer meals?” So you can imagine what happened next. “Cherice, you have to write a guest blog post telling my readers who don’t know about this!” And so she did. Below is what Cherice has to share, including one of her favorite recipes. Thank you Cherice.
I want to first mention that for several months (a few years ago) I was part of a group of about 6 or so friends who got together once a month and exchanged freezer meals. We each mass-produced a recipe x6, met for the exchange (and chit-chat and laughter) … and we went home with 6 different freezer meals. It was awesome. That’s just another way you could try this out if you’re interested.
Cherice Rigby: Wife, Mom, Project Lifer, Freezer-meal-maker, and rocks the sewing machine
Think about the most stressful time of your day. Does it happen to be around dinner time? For me it is. That is why I love freezer meals. I put the meal in the oven or crock pot and walk away. Done. No frantically trying to get dinner ready or worrying if I have all the ingredients after I have already started cooking. Plus no cooking dishes to wash – yay!
Freezer meals are also known as freezer cooking, bulk cooking, batch cooking or once a month cooking. But whatever you call it the concept is simply the same. When you cook, cook multiple portions and freeze the extra servings.
There are different ways you can approach freezer cooking. Some people like to spend two days a month and prepare 20+ meals. The first day is spent shopping and prepping, then the second day is spent assembling. But for me that sounds too overwhelming and honestly I don’t have two full days to devote myself to the kitchen. So most of the time I like to take it one meal at a time, and one day at a time. My purpose for freezer meals is not to stock my freezer full for a month at a time. I simply like just to have a few on hand for those days that I know will be crazy busy and will leave no time to put a good home cooked meal on the table for my family.
Here are two ways I approach this:
1. When I buy meat, I stock up on it. For instance, the day or the day after I buy chicken (I only buy fresh) I make a couple chicken dishes my family likes, cook and shred some, and freeze the rest in individual freezer bags (that way I can grab however many chicken breasts I need).
2. When I make a meal, I triple the recipe. If I make lasagna, I cook one to have for that night’s dinner and the other two I freeze.
3 more tips:
1. Packaging. Use GLAD Press n’ Seal over casseroles, then foil, and then place it in a freezer bag. You wouldn’t want your food freezer burned!
2. Label! Label! Label! Label what is hidden under that tin foil along with cooking directions.
3. Plan ahead. Yes I believe freezer meals save time, but honestly they only save time if you plan in advance. You can’t pull a meal out of the freezer at 5:00pm and expect dinner to be ready by 6:00pm. It’s just not going to work that way. The meal should be taken out of the freezer the night before and thawed in the fridge. Then cook as you normally would (although I have noticed that mine generally take a bit longer). So really they only save time when you plan.
Sweet n’ Sour Chicken (my favorite freezer meal)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 cube chicken boullion
1 large can (20oz.) pineapple chunks or rounds
1 green pepper
Cut each trimmed chicken breast into 3-4 pieces and coat with flour. Fry chicken in a medium size fry pan using about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside in a 9×13 casserole dish (*if you are going to freeze this, then use a foil 9×9 pan). Drain pineapple, SAVING the juice.
In a medium sauce pan combine the following:
Pineapple juice (if the can didn’t give you 1 1/2 cups, then use water to make up the difference)
Boil for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (*take out of the oven and skip the next step if your are freezing the meal*).
Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees and add pineapple and sliced green peppers. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
If freezing, take out of the oven and DONT add the pineapple and green peppers. Put the pineapple and green pepper slices in a quart size freezer bag.
After it is slightly cooled, cover with foil and put it in the fridge until it is completely cold. (I usually just leave mine in overnight). Now put GLAD Press n’ Seal on and then tin foil on top of that. Place it in a gallon size freezer bag along with the bag of pineapple and green peppers and a card that is labeled Sweet n’ Sour Chicken and has all baking instructions written on it.
That’s it! Now you have one less meal that you have to worry about preparing on that crazy day where you feel like you have million and one things to do.
Happy freezer cooking!