Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Freezer Cooking Part One

I've heard about freezer cooking for quite sometime, but it sounded like a lot of work. I also suspected that I needed an extra freezer to really do it well. I was so mistaken! It really isn't hard at all! I decided to try it out right before we went out of town for a week for Thanksgiving. I prepared a lot of meals one day and stuck them in the freezer. We have been eating on them since we got back from our trip Thanksgiving and it's been wonderful!

I'm going to show you how I did the prep work for 7 meals and it really only took me an hour of work. Today, I made a large batch of lime chicken taco meat in the crock pot, 3 batches of vegetable chili and two batches of black bean soup. The only thing I actually cooked was the chicken taco meat the rest was prepared and ready for the crock pot.

In the morning, I doubled this recipe for chicken lime taco filling and put it in the crock pot. It is a super easy recipe and it should equate to three meals for my family. We will eat some tonight, I will make sure there is enough for Matt's lunch tomorrow and I will split the rest and freeze. I always have tortillas on hand so it is so handy to just pull out the meat in the morning and serve it for dinner. It could also be used on nachos, as burrito or enchilada filling.

Later that afternoon, I had exactly 45 minutes to put together the other five meals. I put a show on for Harrison and got to work. The key is having your recipes, all of your ingredients and supplies out and ready to go.

I chose to freeze these meals in large freezer bags. This is when you don't want to skimp and buy the cheap bags! I also found it to be much easier to go ahead and label the bags before you start filling them.

I put the bags in bowls and started putting all of the ingredients for black bean soup. I usually make this with smoked sausage but I am trying a vegetarian version today. If it turns our good, I'll give you the recipe, assuming I actually remember what I did!

Then I got to work on the chilli. I decided to make three batches of chili. Last time I used ground turkey and I just browned the meat and added it to the mixture.

I have the soups and chili's ready for the freezer. Through trial and error, I found there was no need to thaw these before throwing them in the crock pot. If you put it in the crock pot in the morning it will be ready in plenty of time for dinner. If you want it for lunch, you'll need to thaw it in the fridge the night before. We will probably have the black bean soup for Sunday lunch after church with quesadillas.

And here's the mess! I actually got it all cleaned up with three minutes to spare, only to then find Harrison had spilled chocolate milk all over himself! The fun never ends!

I hope you find this helpful! As you can see, you can do this with any soups you like. You can also put the ingredients for any of your favorite crock pot meals in a bag with the meat that cooks in the crock pot raw. Then all you have to do is dump it in, so easy! It has been wonderful to have this stash of meals! I know it saved us some money over the holidays when I really wasn't in the mood to cook and I would have been tempted to eat out or grab a pizza.

Tomorrow, I am planning on poaching and shredding some chicken and putting together several more meals. I'll get some pictures and share that with you as well.

 Click here for Freezer Cooking Part Two.