Sunday, October 21, 2007

Look What I Did!


I made Cheerios #1! No, that was a long time ago. : ) I made my freezer into a mess. Well, maybe. But at risk of turning this blog into some sort of feminine domestic saga, I'd like to show you what happens when someone puts a month of meals in the freezer. After shopping trips to Fred Meyer and Costco, $240, and seven hours of preparation, I closed my freezer at midnight last night on 21 assembled 4-serving meals ready to go. Averaging $2.85 per serving and 20 minutes prep time per meal, I feel pretty good about my accomplishment. The recipes included ingredients like lamb, fish, steak, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a couple of varieties of cheeses.

However, I can't take all the credit. A few months ago, I came across Leanne Ely's website http://www.savingdinner.com/. Her purpose is to create useful, simple, and delicious menus for busy families to use in having family dinner time every day. I registered to receive her free weekly menus (complete with an organized shopping list, recipes, and tips). I liked how Leanne encouraged using whole foods (fresh vegetables, real butter and olive oil, no prepared sauces or mixes) and encouraged cooks to expand their exposure to spices. The organization was excellent, the meals quick and easy to make (yet pushed me out of my rut), and I soon had a well stocked spice cupboard and something for dinner every night! It was a good feeling. Two weeks ago, her website offered a discount on their monthly menu sets. So, I bought two to try.

The 20 meals a month are taking into consideration that families will sometimes like to have a pizza night or have a favorite family recipe now and then. For us, it works great because on Monday James leaves at 7:45 AM and doesn't get home until 10:30 PM and on Sundays we eat with the church and young adult group. Since the meals are for four, we also have the option of eating the leftovers for lunch the next day (as usual) or inviting another couple to come share dinner with us! I could even give guests a list of meals for requests . . . nah!

I was completely beat, though, after seven hours on my feet in the kitchen. My hands (and the whole house) smell of the nine chopped onions and countless diced garlic cloves that went into the meals. Most of the meals made me say, "Yum," when I assembled them but a few made me say, "Well, that will be interesting" or "Hmm." And although I am thankful for the 21 meals ready to go, I don't relish the idea of another two day shopping and cooking marathon. We will see! I think it might have been easier if I had help (poor James was slaving over a take home structural foundations test) or someone else to collaborate with. I guess we'll see in a month if I get ready to cook up my second month of menus!

Since the meals are assembled now, all I will need to do is choose the meal I want to eat the night before I need it, put it in the fridge to thaw over night, cook it, and add a freshly tossed salad, veggies, or noodles (rice is already included) as a side to the meal. The organization is so superb that there is a separate shopping list that gives suggested sides and necessary last minute ingredients (like lime wedges or sour cream). The monthly menus also have the option of separating the meals into meat groups so instead of assembling the meals all at once, I could have fixed the five that called for chicken at one time, etc. This gives the benefit of being able to wait for good sales, use time effectively, and not needing to pay for 12 pork chops, 14 chicken breasts, 16 turkey cutlets, etc. all at once. But me? I never like doing things the easy way!

As a side note, the ham in the freezer is a Christmas gift from the company James worked with before the last one (I doubt the $3 rebate is still good!). We will probably have to find a time to thaw it out and do a month of ham meals. : / I won't mention that one of the Rubbermaid containers holds remainders of cooked turkey from the year before last! I used the cutting board in a vain attempt to make the food bags freeze flat. And now you know that we like Breyer's ice cream!

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Hey what a wonderful wife my son has!! You are not only beautiful but you are also a great cook!! :) I for one am a bit jealous of your organization skills. I will go to the website and check it out myself!! :)
    Mom

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  2. Hilarious! Love it! I'm anxious to be up to freezing meals again. I've started a list now. I've got 2 1-week menus with their shopping lists ready to grab and use! I'm proud of myself. But how did you manage to freeze them in ziplock bags? Don't they need baked or anything?

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  3. I didn't end up baking anything, just assembling (some were more complex than others). Leanne suggests that fresh - frozen tastes better than cooked - frozen. If they have a sauce with them, they already are marinated by the time it comes to cook them in the evening. Getting a meal from the fridge to the table has been very quick over the last week. Also, I don't have to worry about having a full fridge of food to eat before it spoils--just salad ingredients and breakfast foods.

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