If I need to cook dinner fast and all I see in the freezer is frozen blocks of uncooked meat, then I’m so tempted to go out to eat. If however I see a couple of chicken breasts that are already cooked, then it feels like dinner is almost ready! It’s no problem to boil some water for pasta or rice and have a full home-cooked dinner.
I thought about this as I was getting ready to have our next baby. I wanted to have meals ready in the freezer, but I knew my freezer space would only hold enough for maybe a week or two.
I decided to focus on preparing meal starters, instead of complete meals.
We started at the grill and made about 50 small burgers and 30 chicken breasts. Cooking that much meat in the kitchen would have required several hours of time plus a huge mess.
The best part about the grill is the help. If I were to say, “Hey Doug, don’t you think it’d be nice to do some batch cooking today?” then he’d raise an eyebrow. But if I say, “Hey Doug, why don’t you grill some meat for us?” then he’s much happier.
The burgers make a good lunch. Sixty seconds in the microwave and they taste like they’re straight off the grill. We can also break them up to add to spaghetti sauce or scrambled eggs.
The chicken breasts are nice for dinner, but we mostly shred them for pizza topping, stir fry, salad, or soups. Some of the chicken was added to a double batch of Santa Fe Chicken Chili.
The ground beef that didn’t make it to the grill went into another huge pot of chili, and I mean really big, like 22 servings! Chili freezes well. When I freeze soup or stews, I use a quart freezer bag to hold two large adult servings. I stack the bags on top of each other in the freezer, and when it’s time for dinner they don’t take long to defrost because they’re thin. Ten minutes in a sink of water to defrost is usually long enough, and then I heat the soup for a couple of minutes in a pot on the stove.
I made 6 cups of basil pesto and froze it in a muffin tray for adding over pasta or as a pizza topping.
I didn’t have any freezer space for loaves of bread or muffins, so I made bread mixes.
I prepared and froze several pounds of strawberries, blueberries, and peaches to use in smoothies.
We brought home frozen french fries, pasta, and cereal from the grocery store. Eggs make a quick, easy meal with no advance preparation, so we always keep those in the fridge as well.
A few weeks later, we’re still eating from the freezer. It’s been so nice not having to clean up a bunch of pots and pans after meals, and we’ve hardly gone out to eat at all.