As mentioned in my March Goals post, having a day of freezer meal making has been on my monthly goals since last Fall. Each month it wouldn't get checked off so it would be carried over to my next month's goals. Finally in February I changed my goal to a 'mini' day of freezer meal making, taking the easy way out hoping that it would actually get done for once.
Now, lets not forget that it was five days before the end of February that I had an 'Oh shit' moment and remembered that the coming Saturday was the last day of the month and the last day for me to complete almost all of my February goals, including having a mini freezer meal making day. (Why I always do this to myself I have no idea). So off to Pinterest I went, searching my Mmm Mmm Good board for any freezer meals I had previously pinned and also searching for new recipes. I wrote down a few that looked good (remember, at this time the plan was to have a 'mini' freezer meal making day) and while in 'the city' the next day I picked up all of the ingredients for the few meals I had planned. Fast forward to Saturday morning and I hadn't done anything related to my freezer meal making plans since putting away all of the necessary ingredients on Wednesday. I definitely went into this as unprepared as I could be
Here's, as the Pioneer Woman would say, (most of) the cast of characters involved in the freezer meal making process:
When I did my shopping I also bought a few items that I needed that weren't for the freezer meals, and in total, including those few extra things, my grocery bill came to $150. I normally am a brand name snob but I shopped at Clifton's No Frills in 'the city' and purchased as many 'no name' items as possible to cut down on costs considering I'm still under a self imposed 'spending freeze'
It wasn't even until noon on the Saturday that I finally started freezer meal making. I had no plan of attack whatsoever so the first couple of hours were a learning curve. I started off by clearing off the kitchen counters (I cannot stand clutter when I'm cooking) and lugged all of my groceries up from the downstairs refrigerator and then tried to stuff them into the upstairs refrigerator. I had my iPhone, my laptop, and my Mama's iPad all on the go so I could pull up more than one recipe at a time. I started off by cooking a pack of chicken breasts in the oven and browning ground beef on the stovetop. I knew that I would need a lot of rice so I also made 10 cups of rice while the meat was cooking (and then even that amount of rice wasn't enough, I had to make more later. See how being a little more prepared would have helped...).
After getting the rice and meat cooked I decided to stick to one recipe at a time since I was already so unorganized. As I was cooking I was still looking at recipes on Pinterest and realized that with the ingredients I had I could still make a few other dishes, and that's when my day of 'mini' freezer meal making day ended and turned into a full day of freezer meal making. I was in the kitchen from noon until around 8:00 that night, with a little break to eat supper myself. Obviously if I had been more prepared I could have cut this time down by a lot.
If I had been more prepared I would have spent waaay less time chopping vegetables and doing dishes. Oh, the dishes. I actually love to cook but when it comes to dishes I hate even the idea of having to do them. I'm pretty sure I filled the sink no less than 5 times that day. A lot of the time wasn't even spent on cooking or preparing things, it was spent doing the dreaded dirty dishes.
I definitely plan on doing this again in a little while - maybe every other month? Next time I plan to have a list of everything I plan on making ahead of time so I can then cross reference all the ingredeints, see if there are similar items in the recipes, and then prepare them in bulk. Chopping cilantro and onions are my least favourite things to prepare and I had to do it at least four different times that day
I also re-organised some of my pins just this past weekend and created a Freezer Meals board so that next time they are not mixed in with all my other pins. It's a little embarassing to admit but I feel SO accomplished by finally crossing this off my monthly goals and having a freezer full of food that I can pull out when life gets busy!
I'm happy to say that after a day of freezer meal making my freezer is now stocked with:
I've made a fairly similar version from a cookbook a local community organization compiled but this one uses shredded hashbrowns instead of cubed and I had three bags of shredded hashbrowns in my freezer that needed to get used up
I actually only have one left now as I took one out this previous weekend and ate for supper one night and lunch for two days following. I used to be really picky about my lasagna but LOVED this version (had never tried it before). I was a little skeptical of the use of ricotta cheese but now this is the only kind of lasagna I will make from now on!
I'm a huge fan of the Pioneer Woman's cooking - she can do no wrong in my book - and I love this dish of hers. The picture below is before I added the meat ingredients - I usually sneak a few bites of jus the noodle mixture before I add the meat - so yummy!
This soup is heavenly (though not at all good for the waistline) and cooked up really fast. It would even be good for a night when you don't have anything planned since it can be whipped together really quickly
One 6x8½x2"Hsized dish of Sweet and Sour Meatballs
I don't have a recipe for this one - sorry! I realized towards the end of my cooking that I had a little bit of ground beef left. I was going to make another dish of lasagna roll ups when the idea for meat balls came to mind. These are sooo yummy I was tempted to eat them as a late night snack after I finshed making them at 8:00 o clock that night - no joke!
This is the recipe I use when I make Chipotle copycat burrito bowls. I thought it would be perfect to have some rice ready to go for when the craving for a Chipotle burrito bowl strikes. Which, lets face it, is fairly often
Mmmm, corn salsa. Again, this is the recipe I use for the corn salsa for copycat burrito bowls. I kept 'sneaking' spoonfuls of it while I waited for it to cool down - I just love it so much and, again, is good to have on hand for when the Chipotle cravings strike. Why can't there be Chipotle closeby?!
This one I was a little weary about since all you have to do is prepare the ingredients and throw everything into a gallon size freezer bag uncooked to pull out to throw into the crockpot when you need. I was hesistant about mixing raw chicken with all these fresh ingredients but I did a little research and everyone said it was okay so if I get food poisoning afterwards I might feel a little stabby
I've been OBSESSED with Tim Horton's Greek Yogurt Mixed Berry muffins so I figured these were as close to a copycat recipe as I could get. I can grab one of these from the freezer in the morning before week and by mid morning it would be ready to eat!
One medium sized bag of cooked diced chicken
I had some chicken left over so I diced it up and froze it to pull out to use in a recipe later when I don't have time to cook fresh chicken, to use in a salad, or to heat up with some seasoning to add to a Burrito Bowl!
I didn't take many pictures of the cooking process (due to being so unorganised) and the pictures at the end of the night have terrible lighting due to it being 8:00 at night, but you get the picture of what the end product looked like. Next time I plan on taking more pictures and documenting better for the blog - this time I'm just happy the post is finally getting published!
And there you have it - how I turned a day of cooking into have 15+ meals ready to go. All I'll have to do is add a quick side dish - some garlic toast or a salad- and voila a meal is ready!