Last summer I decided I needed to do something to improve our dinner situation every night. I had fallen into a pattern of doing 1 of 2 things, neither of which were good – either saying “Let’s go out to eat tonight” because I had no plan for dinner and no energy left to make anything, or on the nights I felt thrifty, throwing something together 10 minutes before dinner and hoping my husband would actually eat it! LOL!
Before I had my son, my midwife highly recommended that I save some meals back in the freezer for those hectic newborn days. I took her advice and turns out it was sheer genius to have some food set aside in the freezer that I could just pop in the oven on a busy day and have a home cooked meal rather than fattening pizza or carryout food. I thought maybe it was time I prepare some freezer meals again for those nights I just didn’t feel like cooking. . .
And then I saw the pin that changed my life over on Pinterest.
No thawing necessary, no baking in the oven. If I couldn’t be home right before dinner to bake a casserole in the oven, no problem, it could cook all day in the crockpot and be ready when we walked in the door.
The other fabulous thing is that many of the recipes I found via Pinterest are extremely budget friendly (especially when you take into account we’re not eating out as much!) and they save me soooooo much time, plus they are fairly healthy (yay for weight loss efforts!). Just look at all these vegetables and lean meats!
I spent several months scouring the Internets, gathering tips and recipes. The best tips I found came from Jaima’s blog entitled Ring Around the Rosies. Jaima had a way of writing that made me feel like I could just jump right in and do this! She also includes lots of ideas like making muffin sized spaghetti cups for toddlers that you can just pop into the microwave, etc. I also LOVE the recipes over on Six Sisters’ Stuff.
Once I gathered a handful of recipes, I made a giant grocery list of all the foods those recipes would require. Once I had all the ingredients, I just took one entire day where we didn’t have to go out for anything, and prepared each meal one by one. I made a total of 25 meals and determined I could then take the entire next month off cooking dinner. It was heavenly!!!
- My kitchen was an absolute disaster after an entire day of cooking with a two year running around banging pots and pans. But the more I do this, the more efficient I am getting. It was super overwhelming that first day, but just a couple weeks ago, I threw together 10 freezer meals in under 2 hours while watching 3 young boys.
- I’ve also noticed that the more times I do this, the easier it is to take other recipes that I have and adapt them so I can freeze them and just add a few ingredients the last 30 minutes of cooking in the crockpot, etc.
- Another great idea is to work with a handful of other ladies and you each make several of the same meal and swap with them at the end so you all get more variety.
Black Bean Taco Soup
Here’s a link to my Freezer / Crockpot Cooking Pinterest Board.
I have over 100 separate pins to freezer cooking recipes, tips on what all you can freeze and tips on organizing a freezer cooking day. There are all kinds of fun ideas from freezing avacados and guacamole to coffee ice cubes for iced coffee to loaves of homemade bread ready to be baked.
I even pinned a couple fun things like some free printable meal planners and a link to this site that details what items you can and can’t freeze.
So, ladies, what’s for dinner at your house this week? Are any of you ready to jump on the freezer cooking bandwagon with me? Wouldn’t you love to know that you could take the next month off of cooking too? Maybe we should have a freezer cooking party!!
P.S. Here’s another tips I read, if you don’t want to buy foil pans to freeze casseroles in, simply line your pans with foil, put the casseroles inside and freeze them, covering with more foil. When fully frozen, slip the foil-wrapped casserole “block” out and use your pans, then when ready to cook, place the “block” back in that same pan and bake.