August 17, 2011

A New Way of Cooking Dinner?

If you follow me on Pinterest, then you probably know my little secret.

No, I don’t mean the secret that I love junk food.

No, not the secret that I am (apparently) obsessed with Halloween décor.

No, not the one where I can’t decide how I want to decorate any room in my house.

Clearly, Pinterest gives away a lot of dirty little secrets.

I’m talking about my current obsession with freezer meals.

You see, with my current 8-5 schedule at work (I used to work 7-4 which was amazing), and the commute home, I don’t get home until around 5:45 these days.  I used to get home at 4:30 at the latest.  And that one hour + some?  That is a precious hour to lose!  An hour that I could have spent with Cooper.  So, now that I get even less time with him before his 6:45 bedtime, I refuse to spend it rushing around the kitchen cooking a full dinner (and yes, I do want to cook dinner every night).  I had a hard adjustment to all of this when we moved and I started my new job.  Which I know may sound ridiculous, because it’s only an hour less and most working parents face this every single day.  But, it was new to me and I was trying desperately to figure out a solution that would enable to me to get dinner on the table AND spend some quality time with my baby. (Cooper doesn’t eat what we eat for dinner, mostly because he eats so early and goes to bed often before dinner is even fished.)

Pinterest to the rescue!! I started seeing pins of freezer meals.  Some with pictures of freezers stocked full of pre-made, ready to bake, dinners.  I couldn’t pin those fast enough!  Once I pinned, and eventually followed the link (is it just me, or do y’all obsessively pin but never get around to clicking through to the link?), I was hooked.  This was totally do-able!  I decided that I would cook several meals once a week, or a couple times a month, on a weekend.  That way, we would have dinner mostly made and I could just pop it in the oven, on the stove, or (nest of all!) in the crock pot and then I could enjoy my precious time with Cooper.

I actually ordered a book, Don’t Panic Dinners in the Freezer, which has some great information on how-to’s and some really great husband-approved recipes!  For us, it’s not really sensible to make a TON of freezer meals, just because we simply don’t have the freezer space(although in unrelated discussions, we do want to eventually get a second fridge or freezer only for the garage, so maybe in the future that would be a possibility).  I also do worry about keeping things in there for too long, one of my main concerns with this whole idea is that the frozen meals won’t taste very good, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that.  Anyway, I decided to start small and just make one weeks-worth of meals last weekend.  But, I made two of each meal, to save for another time.  I got the idea from the book.  Genious!! 

So last Sunday, I made 2 casseroles, enough meatballs for 3 meals, enough marinated chicken for 3 meals, and enough pork chops for 4 meals.  All of that, in less than an hour and a half!  Seriously!  And, because we don’t usually eat an entire recipe, some of the recipes, as you can see, made 3 or 4 separate meals for us.  And?  I did it all while Cooper was napping :)  I had told Lee my idea, and he didn’t understand how it would really save time, but once I told him everything I’d made in that amount of time, he took back his negative comments!  And this way, Lee can even cook his own dinner sometimes, because it’s pretty easy (even for him) to pull something out of the freezer and put it in the oven. (The poor man can’t cook)

I have to be honest and say that we have yet to eat a frozen meal because our schedule has been a little weird this week, but I’ll be sure to let you know how they all turned out!


Sweet Simplicity said...

You will have to share the yummy recipes you find! I always think freezer meals sound like a good idea, but have yet to actually make any.

katie@tulsadetails said...

I love doing freezer meals and am always looking for new recipes. Can't wait to hear your faves!

One of my favorites is Giada diLaurentis' chicken Pastina. Super easy and on the Food Network website. Delish!!

Ashley @ KiwisandCocktails said...

at first, I thought you were talking about like frozen meals you buy- like stoffers or something. haha.
We NEED a 2nd freezer. I cant fit anytthing in mine.
I cant believe he goes to bed at 6:45!! IM not even home by that time some nights. I will be sad when that time comes for A because I wont get any time with her :((

Kaitlin said...

I think I'm going to hop on board & try this this weekend. My schedule is very similar to yours and I am always racing around the kitchen after work to prep & cook dinner, while also wanting to spend time with L. Plus, she's ready to eat much earlier than our dinner is ready, so I end up making a meal for her AND a meal for us. It's exhausting. We have a second fridge/freezer, so I think I can stash a few weeks worth of food. Question- when you marinated the chicken, did you just pour the marinade in the bag and freeze it all together? And then, do you thaw it the day you want to cook it? Sorry for my 20 questions- this is new for me!

jenny collier said...

I just began doing freezer meals this week since I was obsessively pinning freezer meals as well. I saw a tip where a mom bought two rotisserie chickens and shredded them into portions. So, I have four baggies of shredded chicken for salads, tacos, etc. I cooked up 2 lbs of hamburger meat so that I can thaw and add to pasta, chili, tacos, or even Hamburger Helper if I'm at a loss. And then I marinated 3 lbs of chicken (raw, just adding the marinade) so we can grill those for 3 different dinners. And then I'm just making 2 of whatever meals I make this week which happen to be lasagna, chicken enchiladas, a lemon chicken bake, vegetable stew, and meatloaf. I soon found that even with two refrigerators I'm almost already out of space! I am considering a deep freeze but my husband now thinks I'm crazy and preparing for Armageddon. :) Can't wait to see how yours goes...and if you have any recipes that you love please share. And I will be sure to do the same.


Jax said...

I am very intrigued by these freezer meals, friend. I shall pick your brain tomorrow! :) And um.. I've also recently realized I love anything that starts with casser and ends with ole. ;)

Kelly said...

New to your blog! I am in love with pinterest and there recipes. I plan on trying a white pasta one very soon. Can't wait to read more from you.

Michelle said...

You'll have to update when you start eating them, would love to hear how it goes! This is one of those things I always say I'm going to do, but never get around to actually doing.