Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stockpile Meals: Freezer Meals

Happy Sunday, readers!

This time of year is super high anxiety for me. Beginning tomorrow, I will have a week long inservice training at work, and trying to squeeze the to-do list in every chance I can get. Saturday is move-in day for our on-campus students, which I assist with. Then on Monday, classes begin--both for students at my college and at the University where I'm getting my graduate degree.

On top of all this, I begin my travels in a mere 4 weeks. For those of you who don't know, I travel for work Mondays-Thursdays from mid-September to as late as mid-December. It's exhausting.

As my anxiety is getting worse and worse, I'm trying to ensure that I keep up on my sanity by preparing as much as possible beforehand. One of the ways I'm doing this is by making Freezer Meals. Most will be for Matt to eat while I'm on the road, but it will be nice having a homemade meal to come home to on my busy days.

When I was growing up, my mother would make freezer meals when she was leaving town for an extended period of time. None of the recipes I used were hers, but I could very easily have made those recipes. Instead, I tried to use as much from the stockpile as I could, and didn't make anything that required me to purchase more than 2 items.

I do make freezer meals from time to time, but it's usually just doubling a batch and freezing it, especially with soups and bolognese sauce. This is the first time I've ever made batches of casseroles for the sole intention of freezing and not consuming at least a portion immediately.

Freezer meals are pretty easy and, for the most, pretty cheap, too. I started by looking up recipes where I knew I had most of the ingredients. I settled on making the following (I've linked the sources and recipes--check 'em out!):

Tater-tot Casserole
Baked Pasta
Cheeseburger Pie
Easy Chicken Pot Pie

So, last night I wrote down recipes and made a shopping list of what I didn't have in my stockpile. I also have had a turkey thawing since Friday. We had found a turkey in June for $.89 a pound--not bad, especially for the off season! Well, it began to crowd our freezer, so I decided to make it into freezer meals. The Chickaroni and Easy Chicken Pot Pie I made substituted the chicken for turkey.

This morning, after several pots of coffee (surprised? me neither), I ran off to the grocery store with my pre-made shopping list from the night before. I was able to breeze through the store and was back, eager to cook, by 10:30.

My first step was to put the turkey in the oven. This allowed me to work on the ground beef meals while baking the meat for the next meals.

My second step was to get out and prepare the dry (not refrigerated or frozen) ingredients. I also got out all of my packaging for the freezer meals. Doing this allowed me to not have to run back and forth to the stockpile, looking for ingredients.

I got many different pan sizes, but my favorite are those "PANS" you see in the back. They're aluminum, and disposable. Additionally, they're 4x8 pans, which is perfect portion size for Matt to have 1 dinner and 1 lunch. Or, it's just enough for the two of us to eat one dinner with a side dish. This helps so we don't get tired of the meal (which frequently happens when this family of 2 makes 9x13 pans of the same dish) and takes up less freezer space because it's more moveable. The best part? They came in packs of 4 for just $1 at our local dollar store...

I began cooking, and was impressed how quickly these meals came out...

Tater Tot Casserole (2 4x8 pans)
Cheeseburger Pie (one pie tin)

Baked Pasta (4 4x8 pans)

I packaged and froze each meal immediately upon completion.

It took a little while for my turkey to finish, so I got a nice 2 hour break (and short nap) before beginning again:
Yum yum!
I carved up the turkey. Large slices were stored for today's lunch and dinner, and I shredded the rest. I then made two turkey dishes...

Turkey Pot Pie (2 pie tins)
Chickaroni (4 4x8 tins)
I was intending to make one more dish, but burned my hand pretty badly while draining the pasta for the Chickaroni, so I called it a day.

Here's what I was able to make in a matter of a few hours:

Freezer Meals!

I ended the day with 2 turkey pot pies, 1 cheeseburger pie, 4 baked pasta dishes, 2 tater tot casseroles, and 4 chickaroni dishes.

...and now the kitchen is a bit of a mess. Matt has volunteered to wash all the dishes from today, though, since I made so many meals for him to eat while I'm traveling (which also means fewer dishes he'll be dirtying and need to wash while I'm traveling).

Do you guys have favorite recipes or tips and tricks for freezer meals? Do share in the comments below! :)

1 comment:

  1. I should do this, think of all the extra time i would have to


I love hearing from you! Leave your comment below!