that one time that I made ten million freezer meals.
Or okay, maybe like twenty. Let’s just say that it FELT like ten million at the time, and with the way our freezer is bursting at the seams, it most likely thinks the same.
A bunch of you asked for more details on my freezer meals, so ask and you shall receive! I figured I better get to this since I’m about to pop – and figured even more so that it would be a good idea to break it into two parts: [part one] what I did now – and in a few weeks/months – [part two] if it was all worth it.
Let’s get on to my wordy rambles:
I was super hesitant about doing this. To be honest, I don’t really… care for… freezer meals. I can get down with freezing some leftover soup every now and then but I rarely freeze anything else. I live with a human garbage disposal who eats a ton, many of the recipes I make serve around four people – so if he doesn’t eat it all in one night, it only takes another day or two to finish it off.
I am snobby and really love the taste of FRESH food. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I didn’t want freezer meals, other than I… just don’t like reheating food from the freezer. There is nothing more that I love than preparing a fresh meal and sharing it.
But. Then you all convinced me on facebook + twitter that I’d be so relieved and thrilled if I made a few meals for when the baby comes. And I started thinking about it and realized that it will be the holiday season – a good length of time where we consume lots of junk and cookies and booze, where we eat out a bunch and don’t always have time for GOOD home-cooked meals, and my mom is really the only other one who cooks full meals regularly and while I know that friends and family will surely bring us some sustenance if needed… it might be take out?
I kept thinking of how much we LOVE getting back in the groove come January, not because it’s cliché and a “oh it’s a new year, time to eat healthy” type of thing, but more so because the holiday parties are over and things can start to feel routine and normal again. Not that my life will ever be normal again, I GET IT. A new normal, if you will.
And then. I got OBSESSED with the idea of freezer meals. Like down right obsessed.
Like could-not-sleep-until-I-got-this-done type of obsessed.
But here’s what I had to do to make it work for me: I determined that I couldn’t think about the meals too much. I literally needed to make them and throw them in the freezer and forget about them in hopes that when the time comes, I will want to eat them all up.
Since this is a little page of transparency, I’ll tell you that a large part of me made these meals for Eddie. He pretty much eats dinner for lunch and dinner for dinner – biiiiig ass meals. I know that even if I’m not interested in eating these exact meals when the time comes (I’m a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person when it comes to dinner), he will gladly eat them up and take them for lunches. They are some of his favorite things.
Many meals I made contain dairy, but I did think about that fact that if I’m nursing, there could be a slight chance that I need to cut dairy out if needed (so many of my friends have had to do this) – so some of the soups are where it’s at for me. We will see!
This is how I did it all: I made a gigantic grocery list of EVERYTHING I needed for the freezer meals. We are talking a HUGE list. I planned on doing it two or three days in a row – I’d get up and get my prioritized work done ASAP and spend a chunk of the day cooking. I only went to the grocery store once and probably looked like I was the poster child for extreme couponing or something based on the pile of food in my (overflowing) cart. It was horrifying.
I blasted music playlists, you tube videos and podcasts while I cooked.
It seems overwhelming, but to be annoyingly frank, it was fairly easy and therapeutic for me. I had all of the ingredients I needed, I didn’t follow many “recipes” because most are my own that I already know, and the lack of having to style and photograph food was the best thing ever. I didn’t need natural light! I could cook when it was dark out! Back when I was testing recipes for Seriously Delish, I would often work on 12 or 13 recipes per day, so I knew that for me, this was doable and could be completed in a matter of days.
In other words, I wasn’t going to rest until this was DONE. Once my list was made, it was set in stone. There was no turning back – I was doing this.
So this is what came out of my kitchen! As a note, we have a fridge in our kitchen and one in our garage – both freezers are now TOTALLY full. I’ll admit that in my insanely hormonal nesting moments, I considered buying one of those huge deep freezer things. But that… would just be ridiculous. Says the person who doesn’t like to eat things out of the freezer.
Well, things other than ice cream and mini chocolate peanut butter cups.
Spicy beer braised chicken enchiladas: I got one pan of 10 enchis.
Lightened up beef enchiladas: again, one pan made 10 enchiladas. I made the enchilada sauce here in a double batch for both.
Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti: this might be Eddie’s dream meal. I split it into four portions.
Smoky white bean chicken chili: split into two portions.
Regular chili: not this exact recipe, but a version of it. split into three portions.
Mother Lovett’s bean soup: perhaps the most comforting food ever to me. split into three portions.
Butternut squash lasagna: the recipe out of Seriously Delish, made in an 8×8 pan.
Roasted vegetable lasagna: split into two portions. I made this up on a whim and it was SO good (I had extra that we ate that week) – come spring I may share the recipe if I decide to make it again.
4 batches of whole wheat pizza dough: this can work double duty if I want to make a pizza recipe for the blog and use whole wheat dough. I made the dough, let it rise, then packaged and froze.
Chicken pot pie: I prepared the filling and bought a package of puff pastry to defrost when the time comes.
Saucy pulled pork: I added some root beer like a bunch of those old school recipes call for because OMG NOSTALGIA. I froze this into two portions.
Make ahead freezer meatballs: this is another recipe in Seriously Delish made with a combo of ground beef and ground turkey. We love them and I plan on using them for pasta and subs! They are frozen in resealable bags.
Taco meat: again, I made a mix of ground turkey and ground beef, split into three portions. I add in bell peppers to the recipe. This almost seemed unnecessary since I can make it super quickly, but I’m thinking at the time it will be appreciated? let’s hope.
Pumpkin banilla bread with chocolate chips: just one loaf; another recipe out of Seriously Delish that combines pumpkin, banana and vanilla in, you guessed it! Bread.
Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls: I also had a killer craving for these and the recipe made eight (!!!) pans. In the past I’ve given these away to family on Christmas so that’s the plan, plus keeping a pan or two for us. I love her recipe because it’s so largely scaled. Ha.
Chocolate chip cookie dough: I followed Julie’s instructions to make the dough, freeze it on a baking sheet and then pop it in resealable bags once frozen. This is like, for REAL cookies for us. Not for holiday cookie trays.
I used fancy colored tape and wrote not only the food description on the tape, but the cook temperature, cook time and extra directions (i.e. pot pie) if needed. My freezer meals are covered in hot pink and teal tape. It’s true. DECORATE!
So. How much of a lunatic am I? A gigantic one, I fear. Especially because many nights I will probably want salads and cereal and huge bowls of fresh fruit for dinner. I know that these will not only carry us over into the new year, but also can work for some last minute entertaining near the holidays (like the pulled pork or meatballs for sandwiches, the taco meat for oven nacho appetizers, the cinnamon rolls for holiday brunch, etc). Since everyone is ramming the whole “YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TIME AGAIN” mentality down my throat, I prepared us with piles of food in the freezer. My wacky version of nesting. Stay tuned for part two in a few weeks where I tell you if this was really worth it, or just an excellent coping mechanism when it comes to fearing the final stages of pregnancy.
Now have I scrubbed the kitchen floor with a toothbrush? Nada. If that happens, miracles do exist.