Friday, October 1, 2010

Planning Freezer Cooking Days and Meal Swaps

I have been trying to come up with a "plan" for a successful meal swap for a few weeks now. With only one O-A-M-C (once a month cooking) session underway I still need to find and perfect some recipes to make that happen. I'm on the hunt for some great vegetarian recipes that can be frozen and I'm finding that to be a bit of a creative problem but I've found one recipe already and have several other ideas (that I will post soon).
I have found some great resources for Freezer Cooking and thought that might come in handy to anyone who is interested in trying this concept. I do think that Freezer Cooking is most successful if you have a group of like-cooking people to get together and "swap" so that everyone walks away with a variety of different meals and isn't eating three of the same ol' dinner week after week.

  • Here are some Freezer Cooking Basics from Life As Mom.

  • Here are some more great tips from The Coupon Project including some great side dish recipes that freeze well and breakfast burritos! Hint, Mission flour tortillas are BOGO this week at Publix! I'm stocking up big on those.
My tips so far-

  • Look for great deals on meats at Publix and Target. There are several times when I have seen chicken breasts or lean beef on sale for at least as low as it is at Sam's and I hate to shop at Sam's! I always spend more than I intend to and it's just one extra place to stop. Also, produce is not always cheaper at Sam's. I find great deals at the local veggie stand and even at Publix.

  • If you follow the seasons you will be amazed at how affordable things are. Plan freezer meals in seasons to stretch your dollars and that way you can make your favorite foods last and last! For example, stock up on tomatoes in the summer and make large batches of Tomato Basil Soup, Tomato Sauce, Pasta Dishes and more!

  • Don't forget to include seafood and vegetarian meals to the Freezer Menu. Many of the delicious meals I've found from Freezer Cookbooks are heavy on meat. While every once in a while it is OK to indulge in red meat, or having a few servings of chicken a week won't kill you, you want to have a varied diet and be sure to have lots of produce on hand to make that happen.

  • The herb garden is truly essential to freezer cooking! Season, season, season your food! What better way to use up loads of basil than to make a freezer pesto?!
-Examples of time savers to use with Freezer Cooking
  • Chop onions and store in zip lock bags by the 1/2 c (this should equal 1 onion). Freeze them in the baggies (or Tupperware) until needed.
  • Buy fresh produce, blanch and freeze it for use in stir-fry, roasted veggies or just a regular side.
  • Host a swap so that you have helping hands!

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