I have been making freezer meals for our family for over three years now. It has saved me thousands of dollars, not to mention the amount of brain space it has freed up not to have to worry about what I am going to make for supper every day. By spending one or two days cooking, I am able to have enough meals to feed our family for between one and three months! That is what I call a good use of my time!
In the first article in this series, I outlined what steps need to be taken in planning, in the second, I detailed what steps needed to be taken in preparation, and in this article, I will take you step by step through the day you assemble your meals.
At each of your stations, put out the rest of the ingredients. These will include refrigerated ingredients and the items you prepared in advance such as the browned meat, cubed chicken, and chopped vegetables.
Step 11: If you are doing this in a group, assign one person to each station and get to work. Making many of the same meal is hardly any extra work and at the end of the day, all of you will have many meals to take home to your families. If you are doing this on your own, start at one station and work you way around. It helps to keep your energy up if you alternate between a dish that is easy to assemble and one that is more difficult, as you will see progress.
Step 12: Freeze the meals. For all meals that are put in a bag, let out all excess air and lay the bag flat. This will optimize your freezer space. If you are doing this in a group, have everyone bring a box or a laundry basket to transport their meals in. Keeping the meals cold can be tricky the day of the assembly, but if you live in a place where the winters are cold, schedule your cook days for cold days and store the assembled meals in the boxes outside until people are ready to go home.
Step 13: Stand back and admire your work. For the next month at least, your meals are made. Last year, I did a freezer meal marathon of two days of assembly and ended up with enough meals to last over three months.
(this is a picture of my actual freezer following a day of freezer meal assembly – there are 37 meals in here plus four bags of homemade tomato sauce that can later be used on pizzas, in soups, or on pasta…the end result is well worth the effort!)
By using this method of cooking, I am able to feed our family of 9 suppers for between $8 and $10 a meal, averaging out to less than or a bit more than $1 per person. (note…those calculations were before I started couponing, so I expect that the per meal amount would be considerably lower now.) I am also able to go about my days without having that mid-afternoon panic worrying about what to make for supper!