Over the weekend, on the Simply Frugal Facebook page, I was talking about trying to get dinner time under control around these parts. Between waking up at 4am on workdays, working at the golf course all day, coming home to work on Simply Frugal, and trying to be in bed by 8pm, I was having troubles with finding energy or the time to make a decent dinner! (I really do love my life despite my whining! :)) I thought a freezer cooking day would be a great start to get things under control.
I asked the wonderful readers of the Simply Frugal Facebook page for some of their favourite meals to freeze. As usual, they did not disappoint! Armed with all the suggestions, I set to making a list of meals that I could do in an afternoon. I mainly concentrated on coming up with the main course (meat dishes) as I find it easy to whip up a salad, cut up some vegetables or put on some rice to go along with the protein part of dinner.
My Mom came over to help me
kicking and screaming happily, which was, I think, a large part of me feeling so successful at the end!
Here are the recipes we made yesterday:
- Chicken Satay x2
- Peanutty Asian Wraps x1
- Meatballs (about 4 meals)
- Teriyaki Chicken x1
- Cheesy Beef & Rice x2
- Freezer Mashed Potatoes (obviously not a main dish)
- Mesquite Chicken Pasta x1
- Gyoza (actually bought from Costco, but I divided them into three bags for appy nights)
Here’s how I made these into freezer meals:
- The Chicken Satay: I (my mom) cut up chicken into 1 inch(ish) chunks. I placed a bunch of chicken into a freezer bag, then poured the sauce over top. (I also used chicken instead of pork)
- Peanutty Asian Wraps: Cooked the turkey, added carrots, then added all the sauce ingredients while still cooking. Once finished cooking, I placed into a freezer bag.
- Meatballs: Put all the ingredients into my Kitchenaid mixer. My Mom polled them into balls, then placed on a cookie sheet for freezing. (I’ll later put them into freezer bags)
- Teriyaki chicken: Cut 3 chicken breast in half, then placed them into a freezer bag. Poured the sauce ingredients over top, omitting the corn starch
- Cheesy Beef and Rice: I followed the steps in the recipe
- Freezer mashed potatoes: I followed the steps in the recipe
- Mesquite Chicken Pasta: For this I only added the mesquite marinade and some ground pepper to a freezer bag with cut up chicken. I’ll add the cream, bacon, pasta and other ingredients when I cook it up.
Here are some tips I discovered that made the afternoon a breeze:
- Start with a clean kitchen
- Start cooking the things that will be the most time consuming. For me it was the ground beef, ground turkey and brown rice. I found I was excited to get going at first then started to wear down at the end and was glad to have only chicken and sauces to cut and create.
- Have a sink full of soapy water to wash dishes as you go along.
- Have a helper! My Mom was an absolutely amazing asset. As I cooked, she washed dishes. As I made sauces, she cut chicken. I must add, it was great to spend the time with her and have some fun conversations!
- Have enough freezer bags/freezer pans on hand. I did, so no last minute trips to the store!
- Only make 1 of each meal if you’ve never tried the recipe before. You don’t want to have some meals sitting in your freezer for ever because you weren’t impressed with the first one. I doubled up on the recipes I knew we loved and would use quickly.
- Label your meals with the date, the meal name, and cooking instructions.
- Try to freeze your bagged meals flat. My Mom suggested I lay the bagged meals on a cookie sheet so they lay flat. Once they’re frozen, I can stack them easily so they take up less space!
Here are some pictures of all the dishes we prepared:All the chicken meals and the Gyozas Cheesy Beef & Rice and a package of plain ground beef to throw into sauces Freezer mashed potatoes Meatballs! The ground turkey and carrots and sauce for Peanutty Asian lettuce wraps
Finally, here’s the cost break down for everything I bought:
Chicken: $16 (not on sale…expensive, included 9 chicken breasts)
Ground beef: $8 (not on sale, again expensive)
Ground turkey: $5 (not on sale)
Mesquite marinade: $3.60 (not on sale)
Cream cheese: $2.48
Sour cream: $2.19
Everything else I had on hand, so the costs for those ingredients were very minimal.
Total: under $40 for the main part of 11 meals. Not bad!
The gyozas from Costco were $6 (and something) and I didn’t include them into the total cost.
Have you ever done any freezer cooking? Have you got any tips to share? I hope this post will help out a bit. I’ve got to say this was my first time really doing some freezer cooking!