Monday, May 28, 2012

Freezer Meals: AKA Curbing the Craziness

Wow. I just realized my last post on this blog was March 29.  Yikes!  The last few months have been oh. so. busy.  We are in the process of buying a house which we are planning to move in to in June.  Add in to that gymnastics, small group, tee ball, Ben's travel, wrapping up the school year, and other family matters, and it's been pretty crazy around here!  I myself have been trying to find balance between getting food on the table, running here there and everywhere, and not losing my head in the process.  (You can read more about that on my other blog here.)

In the midst of all the madness, I had stumbled upon a website through Pinterest  This website offers several different freezer meal plans per month, including a "Whole Foods Menu" which offers recipes for the freezer using only "real" ingredients based mostly on what's in season.  SCORE!  Oh, and did I mention it's free?  (BTW, I am not being paid to write this post. I could only be so lucky.)

I had noticed this website in April and glanced at it, but didn't actually take the time to try it.  This month with all of the craziness in store, I decided to bite the bullet and carve out some time to try it out.  I have experimented with once a month cooking, or freezing cooking, or whatever-floats-your-boat-to-call-it cooking before.  I can't really carve out that kind of time to cook and don't really want to right now either.  That being the case, I did some tweaking to the plan and did not do a full-fledged cooking day.  

Out of the menus they posted I baked a double batch of the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies (yum) one weekend and we ate those for breakfast the next day and I froze the rest.  Later I looked at the rest of the recipes to see which ones I wanted to cook as it lined up with the food we were getting from our produce share, and made a list of what meat I needed from the meat market. (I stored the meat in the freezer for later use.)  The weekend we got our produce I picked up any remaining ingredients needed from the grocery store.

Out of the other recipes for May, I decided to cook all of the dinner recipes, except for Pan Roasted Chicken with Lemon Garlic Green Beans.  I didn't have time to cook all of the recipes, and those recipes fit my produce items better.  The website has a downloadable spreadsheet for recipe cards, instructions, and grocery list, which allows you to input the number of people you are cooking for in order calculate the amount of ingredients needed.  I found myself referring back to the original recipes (which are all linked on the website) frequently as there seemed to be some glitches on some of the recipe cards.  Also, since I wasn't using all of the recipes listed, I put the recipes I chose into Pepperplate and created my own grocery list.

All of the recipes we have tried have been delicious.  These recipes have also helped us get our of our dinner-time rut.  The kids devoured the Shredded Beef Tacos we had for dinner a couple of weeks ago along with Black Bean-Goat Cheese Dip.  It has been refreshing to find freezer meals that do not call for cans of cream of chicken soup or dried soup mixes and the like.  Whatever little kinks there are with the spreadsheet are well worth working through, especially considering the fact that it is free.  Tonight I just pulled out the other half of the Shredded Beef Tacos to thaw.  With Ben out of town and tee ball tomorrow night, it is going to be a life saver to come home to the smell of shredded beef warming in the crock pot. *sigh*