Freezer Cooking

I've been meaning to share this with you all for a while now.  A month or so ago, a coworker of mine shared this website about making freezer meals to cook in the crockpot.  She had made a few of the meals and was bringing delicious smelling leftovers everyday for lunch.  So we had her share her secret... Jaima over at Ring Around The Rosies has created a list of meals that can be made way in advance and then stored in the freezer until ready to be eaten.  The best part is that you just take everything from the gallon-sized ziploc bag, dump it into a crockpot, and hours later dinner is served.  Y'all, this is my kind of cooking.

Doc and I had a few friends that we'd been meaning to prepare a meal or two for, and it certainly didn't seem like a bad idea to stock up our own freezer, so we decided to spend an evening making Jaima's creations.  Each recipe listed on her blog makes 2 gallon-sized ziploc bag meals, so we decided to pick a few recipes and double them so we'd make 4 batches of each one.  I let Doc choose which ones and he went to the store for the ingredients.

For our 5 meals, we made Savory Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Sausage & Peppers, Mexican Taco Meat, and Meatballs.  We started with the chicken dishes and Doc got to work dividing the chicken breasts up between the ziploc bags.

While he did that, I used a red sharpie to label all the bags.

The Mexican Taco Meat is the only meal that required us to do any pre-cooking.  We just had to brown the ground beef.  For all the others, we just measured and dumped in the ingredients.  As we filled the bags, I realized the red sharpie was a bad idea.  You could no longer read the cooking instructions.  Rats.  You can also see in the picture below that on the bag in the upper right I tried to add a label.  By that time, the bags were too cold/wet for the labels to stick.  Double rats.

The next day I happened to be at Michael's and found these cute tags in their Dollar Bins.

With a hole punch through the top of the bag and a little curling ribbon, boom! Cooking instructions problem solved.

Here are all five meals for one recipient.  Admittedly not the cutest things ever, but what frozen food is pretty?

For the Savory Chicken, you don't add the broccoli until the last 30 minutes, so we put it in a separate bag and attached it with the card.

And because we wanted to do complete meals, we had a few more items to pack into the box.  We added taco shells and cheese for the Mexican Taco Meat, pasta for the Sausage & Peppers, and rice for the other meals.

And with that, our box of 5 meals was complete!

Why you should jump on the freezer cooking train: We spent about $200 and were able to make twenty meals in under two hours.  You can't beat $10 a meal!  And really, I use the figure 20 meals loosely...we filled 20 gallon-sized ziploc bags full but, depending on how many people you're feeding, one bag could be enough for more than one meal.  Who knows how far they could stretch?  Doc and I recently ate the Savory Chicken over rice and there was more than plenty for the two of us and he was able to take a generous portion of leftovers to work the next day for lunch.  Did I even mention that the recipes are good?  The Savory Chicken was quite tasty and we've had a couple friends say the Meatballs are good too.  One called them, and I quote, "slap your momma good."  Might not want to invite your mom over for dinner that night; I'd hate for anyone to get hurt.

So what are you waiting for?  Get to cooking freezing!