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Happy Monday to you!
Freezer meals? You either like them and are currently doing them or you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. For the next 10 weeks I am going to be blogging about recipes that I have found helpful to my busy life of mothering babies, homeschooling, being a wife, gardening and all the other things we have thrown into our lives.
I have been so incredibly blessed by freezer meals. I share what I have learned because it has helped me to be efficient. I love good food but I don’t like spending all my time in the kitchen to get good food. There are days I don’t mind but then there are other days that life calls me away from the kitchen and these are the days I am so grateful for a freezer meal.
They are also so helpful for me because I am going thru a detox right now (after 5 pregnancies and basically nursing nonstop for the past 9 years my body has taken a beating) and my family isn’t always eating the same thing I am. The other huge blessing they have been to me is in my ability to drop off a quick meal for a friend in need without having to stress myself out to make it happen. If it happens to be for a larger family then ours and I have 2 of one item in the freezer, I just give them 2 of what I have even if pan sizes are off. No one cares, all they care about is the fact that you took the time to care for them. During this busy time in my life of ‘littles’ freezer meals are the one way that I have found I can bless people in my sphere of influence.
Freezer cooking takes some planning ahead but the benefits are so worth it. Little did I know the summer of 2014 before my 4th baby was born that when we (a couple of little church girls come to help me) did 60 freezer meals that it would literally help save my sanity during the illness’/non stop crying and just plain hard entry into the world this baby would have. He had such a rough start which was so incredibly stressful. He cried nonstop for 8 weeks, had 1 good week and at 9 weeks contracted pertussis, whooping cough. Those next 150 (it’s supposed to be a 100 day illness but I guess because he was so newbornish yet) days were very difficult, hard and intense. For 120 nights he literally didn’t sleep longer than an hour at a time. Round the clock we were getting him upright so that he would not choke to death. Now not all those days were critical to his survival but for a solid month and a half our pediatrician had us on edge.
I am such a firm believer of freezer meals for whatever stage you’re in. I am currently homeschooling 2 little boys and occupying 2 toddlers plus all these darling children have to eat. And EAT they do. Whew, it takes a lot of food!
There are days where I am simply just loosing it and a freezer meal is my only saving grace. I have great days and then I have really BAD days. Freezer meals are for both!
Whether you choose to make a few extra meals a month (like double your favorite meatloaf and lasagna recipe) that are in your family’s monthly meal rotation or you choose to take a week (like I do every summer) to make gobs of meals I hope you will find some of these recipes and tips helpful.
Probably the easiest place to start is to list 3 of your family’s favorite meals and just double the recipe. Just like that you have 6 meals for your freezer. You have saved 1 week of cooking. If you take the same 3 recipes and triple it, you have a week and a half.
It takes some money up front to do all the meals but I think over time you actually save money because you don’t have items in your frig going to waste. A good question to ask yourself after you have named the 3 dishes is, “How hard would it be to double this recipe?” Think chili/meatloaf/meatballs/soups/tater tot casserole.
My goal is to post a freezer meal recipe every Monday. I have learned what works for me and what doesn’t, over time you will learn the same thing. A recipe you think is fantastic and is so easy to make may be the one your family really doesn’t like, sigh.
Pasta (already cooked) dishes can work great; you just want to make sure you cook your pasta VERY al dente. One year I made a generous batch of a pasta dish. The dish was fantastic. But I had cooked the pasta too long and it continued to cook after I dumped it into the strainer because there was so much in my large stock pot. 🙁 We ate it but I would have much preferred it al dente.
The menu for the next 10 weeks will look something like this (there may be a few variations depending on the twists and turns in our lives but here is a basic outline):
Sunday Chicken (rice pairs well with this dish)
BBQ Meatballs and Whipping Cream Potatoes
Crockpot Chicken Alfredo
Salisbury Meatballs (pairs well with Freezer Mashed Potatoes)
Amish Breakfast Casserole
Easy Lasagna (no cook noodles)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
A few things you will want to have on hand are half sized foil pans (BJ’s is the best place for me to purchase these), think disposable pans or lots of glass 9 X 13’s. Quart and freezer bags are also a must (Aldi’s has amazing prices).
I also keep detailed notes of what I do from one freezer meal round to another because I am so prone to forget what worked and what didn’t. You might want to grab yourself a folder and keep your chitterings in that file.
Would love to hear your comments/suggestions in about what works or doesn’t work for you. And also what some of your favorite recipes are!
This is one of our favorite desserts and with fresh berry season just around the corner I thought I would share this recipe with you. It’s so simple! You can use any variety of berries that are in season or that you prefer.
For this recipe, I just used a box mix of angel food cake that I picked up at the grocery store. I followed the recipe as stated on the box but baked it in a jelly roll pan. I lined the jelly roll pan with parchment paper before I baked it. I baked the cake for 25 minutes. While the cake is still warm, flip the cake out on to a clean tea towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up as if you already have your filling in it. If you fail to do this it will be more difficult to roll up once it is completely cooled.
I used 1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 – 3/4 cup each of blueberries and red raspberries
1 1/2 cup whipping cream, it will whip up to 2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
I whip the whipping cream just until soft peaks form, add the powder sugar and mix again lightly. Side note: when working with whipping cream it is very important to not over beat it or you will have butter. Once powdered sugar and whipping cream are mixed remove the whipping cream mixture from the bowl. If you don’t remove the whipping cream and just add the cream cheese you will not get a smooth consistency. Then place the cream cheese in the bowl and beat until creamy. Add vanilla extract. Once the cream cheese and vanilla are smooth, add the whipping cream back into the cream cheese mixture and lightly mix together until well blended.
When you are ready to fill your Angel Food Cake Roll, unroll your cooled cake and spread the whipping cream mixture all over it. Place your fresh fruit and start to roll up the cake roll, starting on the long side. If you start at the short side you will have a super fat cake roll.
This was our special dessert for Valentine’s Day this past year but we enjoy these often throughout the year! With summer and all it’s berry goodness just around the corner, I am sure we will be eating this often. In a few years we hope to have all our own berries come from our land. We have 100 blueberry plants waiting to go in the ground this spring and we already have 20 red raspberry plants and 100 blackberry plants planted.