8.24.2015

20 Freezer Meals in 4 Hours: Part 1


Since my hubby and I both work for a school, August and September tend to be more about survival than anything, especially now that both of our kids are in school. Freezer meals seem like it's something super organized, planning ahead types would do. But I went ahead and stuck it out, and recruited hubby to help. He was totally on board with less dishes, easy meals, and surviving the back to school season.

I used Mixing with Michelle's THM (Trim Healthy Mama) freezer recipes. She makes it so easy with a shopping list, prep list, and links to all the recipes. These recipes are LOADED with veggies and seasonings, spices, and herbs. Everything seemed very do-able for the average Joe. (That's me.)

First stop was Sam's Club, and let me just say, it was very hard for me to swipe that card. The total was way more than I usually buy at once. I decided to buy half the ingredients, then decided against it, telling myself, "If you're doing this, do it all at once." Best advice. I couldn't get very many of the veggies at Sam's and was very disappointed by the quality of bell peppers.


Next stop was Publix for the remaining seasonings and veggies I couldn't find at Sam's. I love Publix, but as frugal as I am, I only shop the sales and staples there. Meat and some dairy comes from Sam's.

Pros:
No excuses that you don't know what to make for dinner.
Eating whole foods, no processed, unpronounceable ingredients.
Save money with simple dinners.
Takes the stress out of planning ahead.
Save time with only one prep session.
Keeps things interesting, making food we normally wouldn't have

Cons:
Prepping that many ingredients at once was slightly overwhelming.
My kitchen was a disaster.
So much chopping! It was a lot of work.

Note: Many of the directions say to thaw and cook 4-6 hours. I put it in the crock completely frozen and cooked 8-9 hours since I work full time. They all turned out fine.



Here is a review of what we have eaten so far (link to all recipes above):

No Potato Beef Stew: A+ It was very good! One child eats most anything and one is extremely picky. They both ate the turnips thinking they were potatoes. They never even noticed. I didn't tell them later either. Muwahahaha.

Jambalaya: Very good, just wait to add the shrimp until the last 15 minutes. I read that tip in the comments and was skeptical. I added it and waited an hour, then it was a little rubbery. The soup is so hot that it cooks quickly. The kids didn't eat it. They picked out the chicken.

Easy Slow Cooker Moroccan Beef: Not a fan, but I think it just calls for waaaaay too much seasoning. It called for 2-4 TBS organic garam masala spices and I put in 4 because it smelled so good. I actually want to make this again just to try it with half the seasoning. The kids didn't eat it.

BBQ Chicken: Very, very good. I'm usually not a fan of sweet potatoes, but I really liked it. This was the only one where I just couldn't eat the leftovers. (We usually follow the "cook once, eat twice" method to save money, but didn't happen this time.) It made a huge amount, too. The kids liked it.

Pork and Veggies: Very good, pretty basic. Needs an exciting side, but I would probably make it again. The kids liked it.

Sausage and Bean Supper-pretty good. The kids were picky and didn't really eat it.


Placing a freezer bag into a large bowl, then scooping the ingredients into it helped the process go so much quicker. We chopped everything and then assembled. Be sure to follow recipes and measure, or you might get to the last recipe and not have enough veggies! I eye-ball recipes to a fault--no patience here!

Overall, it was a great experience with a learning curve. I can't wait to try the next batch of recipes. It feels good to know we are totally prepared for the busy season or if someone gets sick.

Happy cooking!

Crystal









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