Monday, June 27, 2011

Cooking Freezer Meals

Growing up I didn't do a lot of cooking because I was a competitive swimmer and was always at the pool it seemed. I did enjoy baking and remember even as a young child wearing an apron my grandmother made that was reversible and had cats on it. 

When I lived in Africa for two years I didn't have a choice....I had to cook and from scratch! I did enough to manage thanks to The Newcomer's Guide to Cooking in Africa: American Recipes from Scratch, edited by Edith M. Jenkins.  But when I got married I really became interested in cooking. My husband likes to eat and I like to make him happy :)  We both love different ethnic foods so I remember our first months of marriage experimenting and rarely making the same meal twice.  I think cooking became a hobby for me. I don't know if I loved the act of it or how it pleased others to eat food that I cooked...probably a little of both.

Then pelvic pain and pregnancy entered my life and I don't remember cooking much during that time. After the baby, I was just trying to survive and deal with lingering pain so I became very interested in crock pot cooking thanks to The Crockpot Lady.  Then in March 2010 my pain reached new heights and life became very different for me in the following months.  I still enjoy the idea of cooking and looking up new recipes, but actually cooking is definitely a challenge. My husband works a lot of evenings now and my pain is worse in the evening. If it were just me here I'd eat a bowl of cereal every night for supper, but around 5:30pm my little one comes tugging on my pants saying, "Mommy, I eat".  I have a few go-to staples for her, but I want her to eat a wide variety of foods and I know I need to eat healthy too, even though I don't always feel like it.

With my pain levels rising as of late, I recently began researching the idea of once a month cooking--you set aside a day or two a month to cook a freezer full of meals.  I haven't actually done it yet because I have a small side by side freezer and I will need to clean out the full size freezer left in our basement when we bought this house last year.  I have been trying out some of the recipes I've seen though and storing away a few meals. Once a Month Mom has a great website with pretty much everything laid out for you (recipes, grocery lists, labels, you name it!).  She recommends cooking with a buddy and even at that it will take about 6-8 hours.  If you double the recipes (at her advice) you get around 6 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 15 dinners! So basically every other day you don't have to cook dinner. She even encourages cooking with seasonal items and provides the menus at the beginning of each month so you can spend the month looking for the best food prices and collecting all your items for the big day of cooking.

6-8 hours of cooking is daunting for me right now, so we will most definitely have to do a couple days of cooking. But I think this might be a big help to me! Some of the menu items aren't super kid friendly, at least not for my kid ;), and the idea of eating the same 7-8 meals twice a month is hard for me to get used to since I love variety in cooking.  But I think this will be a big help to me and anyone who struggles with chronic illness. Or really any mom for that matter...aren't we all a little tired by the end of the day?!

I tried out Once a Month Mom's Chicken Burritos last week and they were a big hit. Definitely an easy recipe to start with. I added rice and stuck them in the oven at 350 for a few minutes to warm them thoroughly. It made about 6 large burritos for me.

Do any of you do freezer meals? If you suffer from chronic illness, does this help you? Any help for a newbie in freezer cooking would be appreciated! I'd love to have more recipes that freeze well too so feel free to pass them along.

I'm hoping maybe I'll actually get some comments out of this post :)

4 comments:

  1. I love freezer meals :). I only cook twice a week (Sundays and Wednesdays) so it's much easier for me. The microwave is my friend lol!

    It does help having freezer meals available. If you have a bad flare up or are fatigued it's nice. You don't have to think about take out.

    Pasta meals tend to freeze well, as well as veges, brownies, breads,etc.

    http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/frugalfreezermeals.htm

    http://www.frugalmom.net/blog/in-the-kitchen/frugal-recipes/once-a-month-cooking-recipes/

    I haven't used the above webpages but they look great!

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  2. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for the post and ideas! When I had surgery last month I prepared three soups and froze them. It was so nice to reheat those for lunches for my mother and me during recovery. However, as I contemplate hip surgery in the peak of summer, hot soup doesn't sound so good! So I'm off to check out some of the above recipes for that time of recovery. Plus, my sweet hubby likes more substance than soup :)

    I'm so sorry to hear your pain levels are escalating. Many hugs. Wish I lived close so I could come help you out.

    P :)

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  3. Hi Hannah! I've come to your blog from Rest Ministries Sunroom - I'm doing the Summer Bible Study too.

    First I have to admit that I don't cook for myself, I'm really fortunate to have moved home when I got sick and my Mum does almost all my cooking. which is a good thing because I actually did eat cereal for dinner most of the time for the first 6 months I was sick and living away at college! :) But one of the things my Mum does for me is make a huge pot of soup once every 2 weeks or so & freeze it in individual portions so that I can have it for lunch most days when I'm home on my own. Its really healthy because its just a variety of vegetables boiled until they're soft & then liquidised in a blender & depending on what veg you use it can be very filling.

    I'm on a gluten free diet so bread is another thing I freeze/ I don't actually make it myself but I buy it from a farmers market once a month, slice it into individual portions, wrap in clingfilm and stored in ziploc bags then I can take out a slice & toast it when I need.

    I have a few allergies as well which sometimes means I have to have a different dinner to my family. I know that sometimes my Mum makes double and freezes the second portion which I can use if shes too busy to cook or shes away or something. She actually does this with regular dinners for the whole family too - in family size portions!

    I guess its about finding out what works for your family. Cooking once a month sounds really intense! Could you start by just doubling up on the days when you do cook something like Bolognaise, curry or stew. Freeze the second portion and gradually build up a store to have on hand on the days you're in too much pain to cook?

    I hope it works out for you, it must be so difficult caring for a family when you're sick.

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  4. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Freezers

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