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4.12.2013

My Freezer Meal Prep Day

Well, this is kind of over due. Like me. Ha... see what I did there? In all seriousness though, I've been meaning to write this post for a month now. I did a freezer meals day back in March in preparation for the birth of our second baby {*ahem* who I'd like to remind was due April 10th}. I then shared a photo of the loot with my inter-web friends who then wanted details. So here we are!

First, I have to say that it was WAY more work than what Jaima, the blogger whom I got the majority of guidance from, made it out to be. But it was worth it. And it was less work than some other meal preps I've done in the past. Second, none of this is original {read I didn't come up with this in any way, shape, or form}. I just hit up my "mmm mmm good" Pinterest board and went to town.

This here is the the starting point: http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/02/freezer-cooking.html. Jaima outlines how she prepped her meals and has printable recipes of the meals she made. All but two of the recipes that I'm going to list later are from her site. They're not all at the link above. If you browse her blog more {which I totally did}, you'll find more yummy recipes. I just found the ones that sounded good for my family. Do the same for yours!

Next, I will list out the recipes I used and what we thought of them. If there are no comments, we haven't eaten them yet. Also, the last two recipes are from other sites, which I have included the link to:
Banana Nut Muffins {They were inhaled! I think they were good.}
Pepper Steak
Baked Goulash {My mom had given us a batch of her homemade spaghetti sauce so really, it was an adaptation of this recipe. In any case, it was amazing and simple. We used Ditalini pasta and it was perfect. Amelia calls it "circle pasta goulash". Hehe.}
Cilantro Lime Chicken w/ Black Beans & Corn {Super simple and yummy. We served it in tortillas which was a bit messy due to how juicy the filling is. I think it would be perfect over a bed of chips and lettuce! I loved avocado and sour cream with it.}
Slow Cooked Beef Fajitas {A huge hit. I will never make fajitas any other way.}
Sausage & Peppers
Teriyaki Chicken {We really liked this. However, it wasn't as "teriyaki-ey" as I would've liked. Not sure why?}
Lazy Day Stew {Ok, this was a pain to cook. I think because I didn't thaw it all the way. Nor did I cook it on low. It really does need to cook on low for a while after being thawed out. Once that happened, the flavor was amazing. It doesn't look very appealing but I think that's pretty typical of stew. We served it over quinoa!}
Layered Enchildad Casserole {This is so easy to throw together and really delicious. I ended up doubling the recipe and making two casseroles because why not?}
Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup {This isn't typically a freezer meal. It's just a favorite of ours that I wanted to make. The flavor wasn't as yummy as when I make it fresh. But still, we'll take it!}

Alright! So once I knew what recipes I was prepping, I made my ingredients list. I'm not sure the best way to do this. I think you'll know what works for you. My favorite part was going through our pantry and crossing items off the list that I already had. Then I set off to the grocery store. Actually, my mom did because I ended up getting a really bad cold while I planning all of this. I got the rest of the ingredients at Fred Meyer and Costco. And ladies, I didn't even use coupons or shop sales. It's a shame, really. Even still, I spent $144.87 to make two batches of muffins and eighteen dinners. Um, WIN! And nearly every dinner we have made so far has given us leftovers. So that's awesome, too. 

Once the ingredients were gathered, I started cutting away. Lots of veggies to cut. And meat. Jaima said she did all this following prep in a nap time or two hours. Yeah... she's SuperMom or something. I actually made the muffins the day before. The whole rest of the prep work took me about six hours. I just spent that time cutting veggies, cutting meat, putting them into appropriate bags, and putting them away in the freezer. I was 36 weeks pregnant so maybe that made me slow? I don't know. Either way, I was super excited when I opened my freezer at the end of the day and saw this!



With the exception of cooking the chicken for the casserole and cooking the muffins before freezing, everything else goes in raw. With other meal preps I've done, we actually did cooking then packaging.. all on the same day. Honestly, that was hell compared to this. I would love to eventually do this once a month for my family. Not only would it bless us but I've thought about how easy it would be to give meals for someone in need at the last minute. I know a ton of new mommies! :) Might as well share the treasures.

A few random tid bits that I didn't know where to put into the above commentary: 
- Remember! The majority of these recipes make TWO dinners {well, about enough to feed a family of two adults & two small children}! Each recipe is split into two different bags. This blew my mind and was reason enough to make me do the meal prep.
- If you can't spare the six hours in one day it's easy to spread out over a of couple days. You don't have to bust out that many recipes in one go around.
- Don't forget your Ziploc freezer bags!! And write the meal name/instructions with Sharpie the night before.
- Save your ingredients list and recipe list. I'm already looking forward to how much less work the next prep day will be for me because I kept everything in a little folder, including my receipts so I could see about how much I spent.
- OH! When putting your ingredients into the bag, I've found that it really does matter when you put the meat in the bag! Especially on the bags that are a bit more full after everything is in. When you dump the contents into your crock pot, you want the meat on the bottom so it cooks well {that was part of my issue with the Lazy Day Stew}. So, put your meat in last if you can!
- Jaima suggests cutting your chicken breasts in half so that you have four strips per bag. I second this!

I hope this was somewhat helpful! If you have any questions, ask away. Let me know if you end up doing this and how it works for your family! Danny has loved having yummy meals. And I have loved not cooking. It's a really great situation these days!

2 comments:

  1. Oh! Sweetie. You have inspired to do this and I am thinking of all the nights that we have of "Hurry grab something to eat before volleyball." That this is going to come in handy.
    Love you!
    Aunt Tiffaney

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad that it has inspired you. ;) I hope it helps on those busy nights. I find it's hardest to eat healthy when you're busy. But these freezer meals made it easy!

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