Make Ahead Convenience Foods - Freezer Meals
This is the article that started it all for me personally. The article calls it Investment Cooking. I had gotten in the habit of haphazardly making things as I needed to. You know, stand in front of the fridge/freezer way too late wondering what's for dinner. My make ahead items I had traditionally done had fallen by the wayside. I'm a SAHM, I had time to cook now right? I LOVE to cook right? Well truth is, kids occupy most of the after school time. Saving a few steps is a wonderful idea and I needed to get back and improve on this concept. This article was just what I needed and pretty much changed my life. I waited for the first sale and bought 4 five pound rolls of ground beef .
- One roll changed into 20 fresh pressed hamburgers (seasoned to my liking).
- Second changed into 4 meat loaf's (I have 4 extra of the same metal loaf pan I use).
- Third changed into EIGHTY meatballs.
- Fourth changed into 5 one pound servings of Ground Beef Base (includes 2 onions and 6 cloves of garlic).
I was not sure at first about the Ground Beef Base. But let me assure you, this turns out to be such a convenience. Chili, Hamburger Helper, Taco meat, start of Enchilada filling, Casseroles. You name it. Already done and ready. Its so nice. Be sure to lay your hamburgers and meatballs out on a cookie sheet and freeze at the bottom of your deep freezer. The final frozen product can then put placed in a ziploc and your food wont stick. This allows you to take out individual servings. Bloggy mommas everywhere were calling this Flash Freezing. My husband assures me that this is not technically "Flash Freezing". Hey, it works regardless of what you want to call it.
Then I went and purchased two whole chickens. They were placed in the crock pot with about 2 cups of water and a few bouillon cubes. From that I got:
- 4 or 5 bags chicken meat to freeze
- and 8 cups of chicken stock (that I froze flat in one cup portions in smaller freezer bags).
From that the ideas exploded.
- Every time I made taco meat, I'd freeze half.
- Every time I made Bolognese sauce, I'd double the batch and save 4 serving bags for other meals (say ziti, lasagna, etc).
- Enchilada's are another dish that is easy to make two of and freeze half.
If I manage to find some manager special chicken or pork, I'll marinade those ahead and freeze them with the marinade in a zip lock bag. You can look at my post here to find my favorite pork marinade recipes. And on occasion Kroger will have an excellent sale with $1 marinades that I can match a coupon too. I use those for chicken and occasionally beef.
This method turned out so successful for our family that I now provide this make ahead service to my sister.