Monday, August 6, 2012

How to Start Making Freezer Meals: 5 Excuses Busted!

Freezer meals save my sanity, and they are utilized every week in my kitchen. When I talk to other people about freezing meals for their family, most are excited by the idea, but have a lot of excuses why they don't do it:

1. It seems too expensive. 
Some freezer meal sites show you huge counters full of groceries, ready to be made into meals. This amount of food shocks most first timers and their grocery budget, but you do not need to use up all that money in one big sha-bang to make freezer meals.

Just double ONE meal each week. This is easy to do because most ingredients have leftover portions anyway. I like to use whole 16 ounce boxes of pasta at a time, (random half-ful boxes in the pantry drive me psycho) so if a recipe only calls for 8 ounces of dried noodles, I double the recipe and freeze half. Every meal does not need to be an expensive, meat-heavy recipe. Freezing black bean enchiladas can stock your freezer without breaking your budget, either.

2. I can't afford to buy all those disposable pans.
So don't! Glass Pyrex dishes are extremely reasonable at thrift stores and work great in the freezer. Another option is to freeze the casserole in the foil-lined pan, and pop it out once it's frozen so you can re-use your dish. Just place the dish back into it's original pan when you are ready to cook it.

I buy my freezer bags when they are on sale: my buy price is about $1 a box. I also like to use "free" bags (i.e. bread bags) when I am only keeping items together (like Breakfast Burritos or foil wrapped Ham & Cheese Sandwiches).  All the meals in my freezer are in glass pans or freezer bags. I only use disposable foil pans when I want to drop a meal off to someone.

3. My family doesn't eat casseroles.
There are many different types of freezer meals out there, not just casseroles. One of our family favorites, Peanut Chicken, is not a casserole. Take an existing family favorite recipe that you know your family will eat, and freeze it. You don't even have to freeze the whole recipe, just a portion of it, and that will give you an idea of how it will survive the thawing/freezing process.

4. I can't make 30 meals in one day.
Some people follow the logic "If I'm cooking, let's cook once and I won't have to do it for the rest of the month." I think that's great if it works for them. I don't have the motivation or attention span to cook all day. I have a lot of more flexibility in my schedule, so I like to cook some meals from scratch during the week, but still like to take some nights off and use a freezer meal.

5. I'm not that organized. 
I am not either. Multiplying recipes by six gives me hives, let alone shopping for all those ingredients get me overwhelmed! I like to double one meal a week: that seems manageable to me. Find your level where you still feel in the control and start there. Maybe it's buying extra ingredients one week, and cooking them the next week.

It doesn't have to be a big ordeal to start utilizing freezer meals: just start small and see what works for you and your family!

Check out my Freezer Meal ebook, available for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad.

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