We all do it. Too tired or busy to cook so we get take out instead. Sometimes it happens more than we like, but our days become busy with schedules or just need a break from cooking. We love the thought of eating healthy, and a dial-up personal chef is usually out of the question.
An idea of a monthly ‘cooking for the day’ ritual started from a good friend of mine. She has a family of growing boys and food was moving fast through the house. She planned for a day (about once a month) to make several freezer meals to store when they were running short on time and energy. This can be a monthly ritual in any home that can make life happier, just by a little planning and preparation.
Jessica Merchant lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and son Max. She wrote the cookbook called Seriously Delish. Jessica decided to try something new…freezer meals. Maybe this idea in her home can start a new ritual each month as well.
“I was super hesitant about doing this. To be honest, I don’t really… care for… freezer meals. I can get down with freezing some leftover soup every now and then but I rarely freeze anything else. I live with a human garbage disposal who eats a ton, many of the recipes I make serve around four people – so if he doesn’t eat it all in one night, it only takes another day or two to finish it off.”
“I am snobby and really love the taste of FRESH food. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I didn’t want freezer meals, other than I… just don’t like reheating food from the freezer. There is nothing more that I love than preparing a fresh meal and sharing it.”
“I kept thinking of how much we LOVE getting back in the groove come January, not because it’s cliché and a “oh it’s a new year, time to eat healthy” type of thing, but more so because the holiday parties are over and things can start to feel routine and normal again. Not that my life will ever be normal again, I GET IT. A new normal, if you will.”
“And then. I got OBSESSED with the idea of freezer meals. Like down right obsessed.”
“Like could-not-sleep-until-I-got-this-done type of obsessed.”
“But here’s what I had to do to make it work for me: I determined that I couldn’t think about the meals too much. I literally needed to make them and throw them in the freezer and forget about them in hopes that when the time comes, I will want to eat them all up.”
“This is how I did it all: I made a gigantic grocery list of EVERYTHING I needed for the freezer meals. We are talking a HUGE list. I planned on doing it two or three days in a row – I’d get up and get my prioritized work done ASAP and spend a chunk of the day cooking. I only went to the grocery store once and probably looked like I was the poster child for extreme couponing or something based on the pile of food in my (overflowing) cart. It was horrifying.”
“I blasted music playlists, you tube videos and podcasts while I cooked.”
“It seems overwhelming, but to be annoyingly frank, it was fairly easy and therapeutic for me.”
Here is what was made for the freezer meals:
- Spicy beer braised chicken enchiladas
- Chicken spaghetti
- Smoky white bean chicken chili
- Regular chili
- Bean Soup
- Butternut squash lasagna
- Roasted vegetable lasagna
- Whole wheat pizza dough – 4 batches
- Chicken pot pie
- Saucy pulled pork
- Taco meat
- Banana bread
- Pumpkin bread
- Cinnamon rolls
- Chocolate chip cookie dough
As another idea, packages can be pre-made with the chopped ingredients and flavorings ready to go into a crockpot or oven. Many recipes can be found for freezer meals and crockpot dishes. Have fun searching and getting creative with your meals!
Photography: Kristin with Live Simply