Wowzers… I truly wasn’t expecting that kind of feedback from my post on freezer meals!!
One thing I want to get out of the way nice and early here, is that I’m not some kind of ultra-organized, sale-hounding, high-energy type of person. Seriously. I’m pretty embarrassed by some of the comments and the attention, because the whole point of me doing these freezer meals, is that I can be pretty darn lazy.
I regularly don’t start thinking about dinner until close to 5:00. It’s not unusual to have dishes still in the sink the next morning. I am always amazed when I hear people say they have a certain day of the week that they always do their grocery shopping. That is just not me. I go to the store when we need food. It’s very rarely before noon, because sleeping in is fun. Yes, I clip coupons and watch for sales… but not to any extreme at all.
And this is why freezer meals are so awesome! Because they let me be me. I can have a lazy afternoon and not worry, because at least dinner is ready. I can completely skip going to the store for 3 weeks (except for milk and produce runs), because I have enough food to last us for months. Dishes aren’t a concern, because we just need to throw plates and cups in the dishwasher since there aren’t really bowls or pans.
And then when I do have that day where I have a burst of energy, I run to the store to grab my meat and I get cookin’!! And, while I’m at it… a little clarification here… because I made 46 meals does NOT mean I made 46 recipes!! I’m going to take a guess here and say I made about 7-10 recipes that day! Remember, one batch of teriyaki marinade made 8 meals in about 15 minutes. One batch of taco meat made about 4 or 5 meals. My stockpot of chicken probably got me 7 or 8 bags of shredded chicken for meals. And you use all these “meals” in different ways so it never feels like you’re having the same thing over and over again!
I did put a video together that shows me putting together some freezer meals…
…and I’ll attempt to answer some of your questions, but I really am NOT an expert… just cookin’ for my little old family so I thought I would share the way we do things!
Q: Can you share the recipes you use?
A: The reason I didn’t post specific recipes (other than the teriyaki marinade and taco meat), is because I get them from published cookbooks, specifically Don’t Panic- Dinner’s In the Freezer, and since I’m not all up on the legality of this type of stuff, I thought it best if I didn’t post it! If you plan on doing this, I really do recommend this book! It’s awesome and I just noticed it’s down to $8!! You can’t beat that! And you know, those authors spent a lot of time and effort getting their book published, so it would kinda be pretty crappy to just post them for free on here.
Q: I’m wondering logistically how to do you make use of all these freezer meals — do you need to think to thaw them out the day before. Are there some recipes that can go straight from the freezer to the oven/microwave etc.? How do you know? Any other tips for making use of all of your labors?
A: And this is what I mean when I say I’m not organized!! I would never give this a lot of thought! I set things out the day before and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. I suppose you could transfer it to a microwave-safe container and thaw it in the microwave but I wouldn’t recommend that for marinated meats. Letting the meat marinate as it thaws really helps it become more flavorful and tender. You absolutely could microwave-thaw the bags of pre-cooked ground beef, taco meat and shredded chicken. I re-heat my taco meat in the microwave all the time and it still tastes great! When you’re thawing a soup, it can still be pretty slushy/icy when you put it in the pot to re-heat. If I forgot to set something out the night before, I often will take a bag of tomato basil soup and put it in a pot of cold water to thaw. Then use the same pot to re-heat it. Then I make 3 grilled cheese sandwiches (for all 4 of us), cut them into croutons and sprinkle on top of the soup. There’s a picture in this post of what I’m talking about. My kids LOVE it and if we’re having a bowl of soup, we really don’t all need a whole sandwich! I started doing it because I was low on bread and now it’s the only way we eat it!
Q: Do you have a generator?
A: Nope! We really don’t live in an area that has a lot of outages and when we do, they don’t last long. I’ve been known to say to my husband, “Did the power just go off or did I blink too long?”. It’s just not an issue around here, but if it ever did go off for long, well, yes… I would be crying.
Q: How did you get your meat so cheap?
A: The only real “trick” is that I know what day my grocery store marks their meat down! Yes, it’s meat that is about 2-3 days from the “sell by date”. It’s very rarely ever the same day that it expires and I’ve often put those packages back even if they are cheap. I just go to regular, chain grocery stores. My one store is significantly cheaper than the other one, but I’m able to find deals like this pretty much every Wednesday (if I decide to go that week). A couple weeks ago they had their 1 lb. packages of ground chicken marked down to $1, so I picked up 4 packs of that. I try not to clear the shelves, because it tickles me to think that somebody else gets to come along and see that great price too! I don’t show up at any special time, usually I wander over sometime in the afternoon and see what’s left. And, yes, I realize these are great prices and not all stores go that low (not even all of mine do), but most stores do have a specific day for markdowns if you just ask your butcher. My sister lives in a different state and she’s able to find great deals on her meat too, just because she checked on her store’s day.
Q: Do you have a deep freezer?
A: No, we just have a refrigerator in our kitchen and one in our basement. Both are the top/bottom style, so I have 2 “top freezers”.
Q: I’ve always been told that potatoes don’t freeze well?
A: I’ve found that to be true for many dishes that contain potatoes. I once made 3 batches of scalloped potatoes and ham casseroles that smelled heavenly and looked delicious and I made the mistake of freezing them. It was a disaster and it all got thrown away! They were runny and the potatoes were brown and it was just plain yucky! Since then I only make one batch of a new recipe before trying it out in the freezer! But for some reason, the double-stuffed potatoes freeze beautifully! They taste like you just made them fresh and the potatoes don’t brown at all! I really don’t know why it works for some dishes and not others, but I’ve had great luck with the stuffed potatoes (plus I got the recipe from that cookbook, so they’ve been tested many times by many different people!)
Q: Where do you live?
A: Central PA, and that’s about as specific as I’d like to get!
Q: Will you come to CA and cook for me, niece?
A: Yes, Unc… gladly! Get that wine chilling, I like cheap stuff! : )
Hopefully I answered your questions! And what are we having tonight, you ask?? I’m about to pop 4 potatoes in foil in my oven (setting the delayed-timer is a great thing!) and I have taco meat thawed in the refrigerator. We’re having Taco baked potatoes with a side salad!
If you’re interested in reading the original post, the cookbooks I used are mentioned at the bottom! Thanks!