This isn’t usually the nature of posts on My Red Leather Notebook.. but oh well, the nature lately has been nothing! Enjoy my long-winded explanation of my freezer meals.
Sometimes I’m a bit more of a planner and talker, than a doer. I’ll find these great ideas and be all motivated, but then it gets a bit complicated and my excitement wanes and the project gets ditched. However, with a baby due in a little over 4 weeks, and the memory of baby #1 arriving 3.5 weeks early, I definitely wanted to be prepared. I love lists. So I made piles of lists, down to very minute tasks (because it’s so rewarding to cross this off the lists :P). I cleaned the pantry, kitchen cupboards, linen closet, you name it (except the fridge– still waiting for that bug to bite!). I baked and baked and baked and filled the freezer with delicious things for “after baby” while our “before baby” supply dwindled and nearly disappeared.
During all this, I knew that I wanted to have meals in the freezer, but I kept putting it off because I don’t often enjoy cooking one meal for supper, let alone stocking meals in the freezer. It just seemed like a lot of work. But these little thoughts of practicality kept nudging me and I knew I wouldn’t regret putting the work in now, rather than trying to get supper on the table with a screaming baby in my arms and a tired toddler hanging on my feet.
I don’t remember what I typed into Google. But somehow I came across this website: http://whoneedsacape.com/ and more specifically, this page: http://whoneedsacape.com/2012/11/crockpot-freezer-cooking/
I was intrigued immediately by the 40 meals in 4 Hours idea. It didn’t sound like I needed to dedicate hours and hours of time to stock my freezer, and the meals were quite varied. So after mulling it over, I printed off the master grocery list (see how easy they make it?), and figured out what I still needed. Over two weeks of grocery shopping, I bought my non-perishables. I looked at flyers and called people and finally found a poultry shop where I bought all my chicken for a great price. The beef and pork I also bought on sale over the two weeks before I made the meals.
I made these meals on 4 different days. One night, before I had all the ingredients, I did the easiest part: labeling all the bags. I printed out all the recipes so that I wouldn’t be running back and forth to the computer to see what needed to be added next.
Day 2: We picked up all the meat. I trimmed the fat right away and sorted it into the freezer bags. Dan helped with this, and weighing the meat, so it went quite quickly. This step took about 2 hours.
Day 3: I pulled 11 bags out of the freezer. I set out all the ingredients I needed for those meals, chopped everything up, and then tossed everything into the appropriate bags. (time: +/- 1 hour)
Day 4: I pulled another 12 bags out of the freezer, and while Elijah ran around getting into trouble, I finished those meals off. I took an exhaustion break and went for round 2 and finished the remaining 17 bags. (1 hour in the morning, +/- 2 in the afternoon)
I figure it took me about 6 hours in total, which was good considering I had counted on it taking much longer. (Yes, it says 4 hours, but I think that’s if you’re ultra organized and have a good system. If I did it again, I think I could trim off an hour. By the end I was working much more quickly.) I wasn’t super particular about measurements either..
These recipes were large, and we aren’t big eaters, so many of them will be enough for 2 (some 3) meals. So that means we’ve got close to 3 months of weekday meals in the freezer. Of course, we won’t be eating them every day most likely, since I think I’d get sick of crock pot meal after crock pot meal after crock pot meal 🙂 But like I said, there is quite the variety in flavours, plus you can add more variety by changing your sides etc. (Some meals are complete, some are just meat and veggies, and some are just meat). Now I’m hoping they taste delicious! I eliminated/substituted ingredients I know we won’t like, but I was also brave and tried some new things, so we’ll see!
After adding up all of the money we spent on meat, other pantry items, I calculated that the cost will be less than $6/meal. Not bad! (I wasn’t super particular about keeping track of costs since I bought a lot of it with my regular groceries.)
And here’s one of the lovely messes I was left with 🙂 But I’ve now completed the number 1 thing I really wanted done before the baby is born, so I’m happy! That doesn’t mean I’m done though… I’m waiting for another big bout of nesting to kick in so I can get everything else done as well 🙂
p.s. stay tuned for pictures of my latest sewing projects!