Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freezer Frenzy

The freeze ahead meal was a foreign concept to me when I started utilizing the Holiday Grand Plan.  Sure, I'd prepared meals in advance for company and knew how to freeze leftovers to enjoy on a later date, but I was definitely a newbie when it came to preparing meals months in advance.

I combed through my recipe collection looking for any and all things "freezable" and came up with (drum roll, please) lasagna and chicken enchiladas.  That's all.  But, seeing as this Italian is married to a Mexican, I figured it might suffice as long as I threw in some spaghetti and tacos periodically.  I was wrong and it didn't take long for me to realize it.  Since then, I've scoured the Internet looking for new and "doable" recipes for freezing and have managed to find enough to provide my family with some variety throughout the holiday season without breaking the bank.

It took some time and effort, but I knew after my first year of holiday planning it was going to pay off.  

Why?  You've experienced the holidays before, right?  The holiday season can best be defined as the shortest period of the year in which we cram the most possible into our schedule and spend every last dime we have.  With countless gatherings, recitals, and other events, it's impossible to find the time to cook a meal every night.  That's where your freeze ahead meals come in handy.  Just knowing dinner is ready and can be popped in the oven with zero prep work makes a huge difference.  Take for example the night before Thanksgiving.  You've already been slaving away in the kitchen, baking pies and throwing together whatever you can in advance (not to mention, cleaning like a mad woman).  The idea of having to make another meal and another mess, it's a bit more than anyone should have to handle.  So, what are your options?  Order a pizza? pick up burgers.? Spend a small fortune taking your family out for dinner?  Let's face it, you don't have the time or the money for any of those options.   What a relief to know dinner is made and sitting in your freezer.  Pop it in the oven and rest your weary feet for a while.

That's just one example of when freezer meals come in handy.  There are countless others and you will quickly see how and when they fit best into your schedule.  Our plan will have us preparing 11 meals (that's just over two weeks worth of meals, not counting weekends when you will inevitably have plans to eat elsewhere). 

So, now it's your turn.  Flip through those recipe books and look for anything that can easily be frozen and reheated.  I'll give you two freebies: Lasagna and enchiladas.  You're welcome. ;-)

If you need more variety, check out Delish or Recipe.  You might also try Betty CrockerKraft, or Food Network.  Truth be told, one of my best resources has been Facebook.  Put out an APB to your friends and ask for their favorite recipes.  You'll be surprised how many gems you find!

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