Freezer Meals

Posted in WA Grown on Sunday, July 07, 2013

Freezer Meals

As much as I love food and cooking, there are definitely times when preparing meals takes a backseat in my life. When my twin daughters were toddlers it seemed like it was all I could do just to keep up with my kids. I distinctly remember one week when we ate whole wheat pancakes for dinner on four nights. Don't get me wrong, pancakes are a tasty, timely dinner option around our house, but by the fourth night no one was happy to see them again. I realized that I needed to find a better way to have dinner prepared for busy nights. I took a trip to my local library to peruse the cookbook aisle in search of a little help. The freezer meal idea was in the back of my mind, but it didn't appeal to me. In my experience, freezer meals usually meant casseroles swimming in cream of something soup or loaded down with cheese and my family doesn't eat like that. Then I found a book called Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. Their method was revolutionary to me. They advocated preparing meats with marinades in freezer bags and even had a recipe for freezer lasagna in which you don't precook the standard lasagna noodles. My curiosity was piqued. I checked the book out, selected recipes that appealed to our family and did my first round of freezer meals. It was a hit! The food was delicious and our freezer was stocked with meals that I'd prepared to suit our preferences. Now on busy nights I could pull a bag of Caribbean pork loin or teriyaki chicken thighs out of the freezer, grill it, and serve it alongside a whole grain and whatever fresh vegetables we had on hand.

Buttermilk Herb Chicken Breasts straight out of the freezer. 

Grilled Buttermilk Herb Chicken Breasts served with a baked potato and kale salad.

Learning this new method gave me a slew of ideas for our freezer. I adapted some of our favorite vegetarian meals, soup bases, sauces and even quick breads for freezing as well. When our freezer is running low, I make a list of recipes, compile a giant shopping list, purchase my ingredients, spend about 8 hours in the kitchen and walk away with dinner for at least 40 nights. We save money by not eating out, I save time, and we've been able to easily help friends and neighbors when they've been in need of a delicious meal. Not to mention how much it simplified our weekly grocery store trip. If you've never tried freezer meals, give them a whirl. They're a lifesaver for me and a versatile, efficient addition to any kitchen.