Friday, November 21, 2014

Freezer Meals

     This coming week I have the pleasure of going to a freezer meal exchange. Tonight was prep night. Funny that I made dinner to freeze and the family enjoyed leftovers. Guess who still got stuck cooking and cleaning up after cooking...yep...this girl. But let me tell you how seriously awesome this is. IT ROCKS! Why? Because I do the work for 1 meal, double...errr...quadruple the recipe, and I come home with totally different meals, that I didn't have to prep. Plus I can buy all my supplies in bulk. And as the holidays are coming on us that is one less meal a week that I have to stress about, and I think we all could use a little less stress around the holidays.
     So how does this freezer meal exchange work? Well, My group takes a count of how many individuals want to participate, and then you make that many meals, freeze in 1 gallon Ziplock bags, and meet for some well deserved mommy time out while you exchange your meals. Easy-peasy. There are other ways of doing it, but this works for us and our group number.
     I believe the toughest part is deciding what you would like to make and can afford to make for a group. Last time my meals worked out to about $10 a meal. Not too bad. And the seriously great part is that you get to try out all sorts of different recipes without having to do much of the work. Some are home runs for the entire family, some are not. And that's part of the fun.

 So here are some tips I have for you:

1. When making a large quantity (in other words multiplying your recipe by 8-10) try to do your mixing in the bag of each individual portion. Less dishes, and lets be honest, I do not have a bowl big enough to mix 20 cups of rice, nor a spoon strong/long enough.

 2. Make something that you know your family will like. That way you know you have at least 1 meal that your kids will eat.

 3. Freeze your bags flat or folded in half. It takes up less freezer space that way, and folded in half is easier to put into the crockpot when the meal is frozen. Also freeze with cloth between the bags so that they don't stick together.

 4. Make sure that you can read your label. Either print the directions onto stickers or double bag and slide the instructions in between the bags if your food is dark (I learned this lesson the hard way when I made Mexican chicken rice bowls and just wrote on the bag with brown sharpie...oops). It's okay to write with sharpie, just make sure that it will be easy to read with the color of your food. And on that note, label before you fill the bags. Trust me on this one.

 5. Don't be afraid to try something new. It's good for you and good for your family.

 6. Make an extra if you can. That way you are set and prepared for when you are taking a meal to a friend after surgery or having a baby or whatever hardship may befall someone in your life.

Oh and on a side note: A rotisserie chicken from Costco yields about 4-5 cups of family will be eating a ton of chicken in the future. Praise God it freezes!

Are you inspired to try this out with your friends?

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