I Heart My Freezer

These day's I find myself with no time and in the evenings when things are the busiest no energy to make dinner. With the kids wanting help with homework, and the baby underfoot spending time over the stove just isn't practical. Surfing the web I found a wonderful idea called Freezer cooking. It's a life saver for me, and kind of fun. Healthy to because now you can avoid those days where you are DREADING making dinner, so you give in spend money and get fast food.

Here's what you need :
a little pre- planning
2 hours time in the kitchen
box of large freezer ziplock bags
black permanent marker
14-30 yummy recipes
your favorite music in the background

If you plan to cook for 2 weeks ( 14 meals ) then you can probably shop at your local grocery store. Find one that is having a sale on meats since this tends to be the where the bulk of your money goes. If you plan on cooking more than 14 meals then I would shop at your local wholesale grocer like Sam's or my favorite Costco. If you buy in bulk then the next time around that you cook you already have a pantry full of the staples and only need to pick up the fresh things like veggies, meats and so forth. What I do is pick 7 meals and then make 2 of everything, saves time and brain power. I also write is all down on a calendar and then I never have to think about what to make I just rotate several meal plans and I have the shopping lists all ready.

What you are doing pretty much is doing all the prep work for your meals in one day. I buy a pack of 12 pork chops each ziplock bag receives 4 chops ( since I cook for 4, needless to say if you are cooking for 2 you can make several more meals with 12 chops ) I label each bag, BBQ pork, Honey baked, Orange chicken, Wine and Herb Chicken and so on. Then you either make your marinades up and pour them in or you store bought marinades. Then you freeze them, when you are ready you thaw out your bag the night before and then all you have to do is pop it in the oven and poof done. You can precook your meal like the quiche's or the meatloaf, but I like to just freeze everything and then bake it when its time to eat.

There are a few tricks and tips that I have learned the hard way. One make sure you freeze your bags with NO air in them to avoid that nasty freezer burn taste. Two make sure you freeze them flat, sometime you will have to reverse the way you lay the bags to achieve this. Three lay a paper towel in between each bag, no matter how hard you try the bags always have some moisture so when you go to pull a bag out instead of one you get all. They will all freeze together and it is no fun to separate them. Four get a friend interested, it's a lot more fun to swap recipes and do the work together. Five start by making just 2 weeks, if you begin by trying to make all 30 your first time out you might be a little overwhelmed.

Here are my fav sites for Freezer Recipes
Once A Month Cook

Frugal Mom - Chicken

Frugal Mom- Beef

Martha Stewart has several on her site that are so tasty

These two sites are great for tips
Mom's Budget
Frugal Mom - 7 steps

Now about side dishes, usually I like to serve a salad or a veggie along with meat. You can pre-make your veggies especially if you like organics, or are trying to save money. I however like to save time so I usually splurge and purchase frozen veggies that I can steam in the microwave. I try and stay away from anything canned, not only do they have that "can" taste they are also high in sodium.

Cooking this way lets me walk in the door after the girls skate practice or gymnastics or after a long day with the baby teething and all i do is pop something in the oven and put a salad in a bowl. Go grab yourself a few yummy recipes and give it shot, let me know how it goes.

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