My husband had the week between Christmas and New Years off. The younger versions of us would have never let this week pass us by without making some amazing travel plans. The current versions of us let finances, toddlers, and the third trimester of pregnancy get in the way. Lame excuses. I know.
So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities.
Various doctors appointments. Finally sitting down to write our Will. Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.
I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.
We did the freezer meals before Wynn was born and it turned out to be a life saver for us. There was already going to be plenty of chaos in our house as first time parents of a newborn, and typically we cook a hot breakfast daily, and 5-6 dinners a week.
There was no way that was going to happen those first few months, so being able to pull out a meal from the freezer was one very appreciated amenity. Between a tired mama, and a crying newborn, nothing good happens in the kitchen. We would have ended up eating Chipotle or Pizza Hut every night, which contrary to what some of you believe, probably isn’t the best idea.
Actually, it could have been even worse than that.
We could have reverted back to our early marriage days where lean pockets and ramen noodles were considered full meals. You can read about the entire ridiculous year we spent learning to cook here. Expect to read lots of embarrassing stories and many, many typos. You’ve been warned.
You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from stocking your freezer with meals. This is great for all of us with a busy life.
Here is the game plan we used to stock our freezer with 22 meals (88 servings). I recommend spreading the tasks over three days so that you don’t overwhelm yourself:
- Day One (30 min/1 person): Gather recipes on Pinterest for freezer meals. I actually had these saved on my computer from last time we stocked the freezer. We chose 11 different recipes and planned to make two batches of each recipe.
- Day One Cont. (30 min/1 person): Create a master shopping list, organized by the section of the store the ingredients would be found in: meat, produce, canned goods, etc. Make sure to double ingredients if you plan to make multiple of the same meal.
- Day Two (1 hr/1 person): Go grocery shopping. I went to two stores, Grocery Outlet and Ralphs, and spent $230 ($2.61 per serving). The most expensive part was that we chose to buy organic meat and ingredients when possible. It adds up, but organic meat is important to us, especially when I will be nursing and passing everything along to my young baby.
- Day Three (3 hrs/2 ppl. steps 4-7): Label all the freezer bags with date/recipe name/servings/and cooking day instructions.
- Put all the meat in the bags so that you only have to touch meat once before moving on to other ingredients.
- Recipe by recipe add remaining ingredients. It’s great to have one person reading the recipe and adding the dry ingredients while the other person is chopping the fresh ingredients. Lay each bag flat in the freezer, and stack them on top of each other to save space.
- Clean up.
For a price, there are sites out there that will email you a monthly menu, shopping list, prep instructions, and bag labels. Once a Month Cooking is one that I have used a free sample menu from in the past. But I also enjoy finding recipes of my own that I know my family will eat.
If you looked in our freezer on a typical day, it’s freakishly barren. To the point you might feel bad for us. A few mini bottles of airplane booze and an ice pack. But now it is completely stocked. We look like a real American family, with the status symbol of abundance, the ‘overflowing freezer’.