I probably have mentioned earlier in a previous post that I have a freezer meal group. I wanted to do a series of post on how it works and give you some helpful hints and advice if any others are interested in starting their own. It is an absolutely great way to get some easy meals that you don’t have to worry about during the week. Especially if you have kids in sports, dance, or any other extra curricular activity. It will definitely save you time and money. Of course it is a bit of work to bulk cook and you do have up front cost but that all comes out in the end because you’re not having to grocery shop for that meal throughout the month and it’s already prepared. Some of the meals all you have to do is dump in the crock pot to cook others are already cooked and just need to be heated up. Now you may be saying I can just by one of the freezer meals at the grocery store. True you can but the cost savings in making it yourself, knowing what the ingredients are in yours, and controlling salt and preservative content is greatly beneficial to you and your wallet.
To start here is the letter I send out to all who want to join —- It explains how it works, the categories we cook in, and freezing tips with recipes.
We have a few basic things to go over:
First our meet up date will the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7pm. This will never change. Unless some unforeseen circumstance. You will be notified in plenty of time if there is a change but it will still be held in that same week.
You are to make so many of the SAME meal depends on the number in the group. If you are unable for some reason to do it one month or decide it is not for you please give us advance notice so we can adjust our cooking numbers.
Lets try to keep our meals (and packaging) equal to about $10 per meal per family and make enough for 6 individuals per family. You don’t have to be exact on the price because over the course of the year some meals may be more expensive and others cheaper so it will even out. If you would like to provide a side or dessert definitely up to you but not required.
Keep in mind we do have some smaller families please try to portion these out in two half portions instead of the one full portion.
Lets also try to keep our meals clean from MSG and other preservatives … I have recipes for seasoning and cream of soup alternatives that will save you money and are simple to make.
Make sure you label your meals with recipe and cooking instructions.
I will also send out an email or FB message to let you know what category you will be doing for that month and we will rotate the next month. Again the categories are chicken no pasta, chicken with pasta, beef no pasta, beef with pasta, soup/stews/chili’s, and other (this will be anything that doesn’t fall into the previous categories).
Please go read through the links below: I want to make this as simple as possible so I have listed some links to read through if you have any questions on what is freezable, how to pack it to last, and some recipes.
What you can freeze and not freeze:
How to pack your freezer meal:
We will consider a freezer meal anything that can either be dumped in a crock pot raw (for example a marinated meat with veggies), casseroles, one pot/baking dish meals (for example burritos, stir fry, spaghetti, chili, soup, ect.). If your dish requires pasta, soft shell tacos, tortilla chips, buns, tomato sauce, cheese, ect please make sure you include that with the meal otherwise it is not a complete freezer meal. Basically anything that you will need to make it a complete meal has to be provided…..We are just trying to take the prep out of the meal. To clarify: We do not do sides. If someone brings a main course that requires buns, rice or pasta, you are expected to provide those items because they are a necessary part of the main course. When I say rice or pasta, that would be if the main course is supposed to be served over rice or pasta.
Some examples of freezer meals:
Chicken and Black bean Mexican casserole that you freeze without the tortilla chips and cheese those are added when it is time to bake. So I would provide the casserole along with the tortilla chips and cheese.
Fajitas you place your marinated meat (chicken or beef cut into strips raw) in Ziploc and then place your veggies in separate Ziploc(bell peppers, onions, ect) freeze bring with tortilla shells.
French Dip Sandwiches place your roast raw with marinade in Ziploc bag freeze and provide sandwich buns.
Casseroles or Bake Pasta Dishes: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole…cook your chicken and add other ingredients and freeze, for pasta like lasagna or stuffed shells cook shells add cooked meat and cheeses and freeze.
Spaghetti make your pasta sauce with cooked meat freeze in a disposable plastic container or Ziploc bag flat and bring with uncooked pasta still in box.
Meatloaf mix your ingredients, place in a tin foil lined pan and freeze. Lift meatloaf out of your pan, wrapped in foil and put into a Ziploc.
Please make sure you use either disposable aluminum foil baking pans, Ziploc bags, aluminum foil for your items as we do not want any confusion on whose baking dish it is that we have. Plus you will be able to use that baking dish for other things like brownies instead of it being in yours or someone else’s freezer. You can get a pack of 30 disposable baking dishes for around $7 or less at a Costco or Sam‘s Club or you can also get aluminum pans at the Dollar Tree.
Feel free to copy this and use for your freezer group. My next post will show you how I keep up with rotation on who cooks in what category plus a nice little piece of clip art you can use for your event set up on facebook or other social media.