|An easy freezer meal strategy for families. You can do it!|
This week, we will be eating the meals that I prepped and froze over the weekend. I’m looking forward to a week of easier meal prep!
There are so many wonderful freezer cooking plans available on Pinterest right now, that it’s really hard to resist the urge to prepare all kinds of delicious meals, and throw them in the freezer for convenient future meals. However, planning for freezer cooking, doing the shopping, and actually completing the freezer cooking is a pretty big time investment. If you have small children, you are probably thinking that spending a day in the kitchen is impossible.
And you are right!
When our twin boys were about one, I decided to do a once-a-month cooking day, and it nearly did me in. Thankfully my wonderful husband took care of the boys while I shopped and cooked. We did have meals for a month, but a lot of the stuff I made was food we would never really eat anyway. I made breakfast dishes, and we are a Pop-Tarts and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast kind of family.
One of my favorite bloggers, Ruth Soukup, recently posted a new freezer meal plan on her blog Living Well Spending Less. All of the recipes are kid and husband-tested, and they’re designed to be cooked in the crockpot or on the grill. They are great summer recipes for when you don’t want to heat up the house by cooking.
Ruth’s plan makes ten freezer meals (it’s actually five different meals, but you make two of each one). This is perfect for our family because we have a VERY small freezer that doesn’t have a lot of food. In fact, in preparation for the freezer cooking, we spent a week eating leftovers and random things that were in our freezer in order to make room for the new dishes. That in itself was a big money saver!
Here are some things I did that made my freezer cooking session(s) much more manageable:
8 Tips for Making Freezer Cooking with Kids More Manageable
1. Eat from the freezer the week before doing freezer cooking. This clears out space, and helped me to declutter the freezer. There were some weird-looking things in there…
2. Grocery shopping for the trip at a time when someone can watch the littles. Grocery shopping with preschoolers is challenging. For a big shop like this one, I needed to be focused.
3. Double-check your supplies before heading out to the grocery store. There were a few ingredients that I changed in order to save a little money. One of the recipes called for four limes. I just used some lime juice we had in the fridge instead. Instead of mincing garlic myself, I just used the minced garlic in a can that you can buy at the supermarket.
4. Clear out space in the fridge to store the meat while preparing meals. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to get the freezer cooking done in one session, so I made room to store the meat just in case.
5. Keep unrefrigerated ingredients out on the countertops. This saved time because I didn’t have to hunt through the cabinets to find stuff while I was working.
6. Label all freezer bags before you begin cooking. I didn’t have ink for my printer, so I just wrote the name of the dish and some basic prep instructions directly onto the bag with a Sharpie. Next time I do freezer cooking, I wouldn’t mind having the Jokari Hands-Free Baggy Rack Storage Bag Holder, 2-Pack to hold the bags open for me:
7. Make one recipe at a time. I knew there would be interruptions (and there were!), so I set up everything with that in mind. I wasn’t upset if I had to stop cooking to officiate an argument or kiss boo-boos. I planned for the interruptions, so it was fine if I stopped for a while. Because I only had two freezer bags open at a time, I was able to put unfinished bags into the fridge for a little while if necessary.
8. Cook when the littles are occupied or sleeping if at all possible. Naptimes are starting to disappear at our house, but I was fortunate to get a small block of time to set up and cook while the kids were sleeping. I made a few meals during nap time, and one while the kids were playing with the sandbox (right outside our kitchen window!), and one right after dinner while the boys were playing with their dad.
Ruth’s freezer cooking plan is really easy-to-follow, and is simple enough to be broken into several smaller sessions. It’s perfect for parents with small children at home. I would imagine that older children might even be able to help with pouring some of the ingredients into the freezer bags. Here are the recipes that it includes:
The plan could easily work with other recipes too, as long as they are simple, and don’t have a lot of ingredients. I liked using a pre-made plan because it made planning much easier for me.
This post is linked up to Menu Plan Monday on orgjunkie.com.