Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I pinned it and did it. Now I'll review it.

Ever since we bought our freezer last year I've been working on finding good freezer meal recipes to stock the freezer with. I've also come to love my crockpot, so when I came across this pin I just had to try it out. The recipes seemed to fit the parameters of what my family will eat (after eliminating any onions or peppers in the recipes) and seemed to give a reasonable amount of variety.

I had the brilliant idea to try this during our first month on a budget. I compiled my grocery list substituting a few ingredients for those listed (adding in veggies when I needed to replace an "off limits" veggie, etc). And I doubled the recipes so we ended up with 24 meals (I think that's right, but I could be off by a few).

I logged them all into an excel spreadsheet so I could keep track of what was in the freezer and jot down our thoughts on each meal. Here is what I wrote down for each meal (in the order that we tried them) along with any other thoughts that come up right now :)

*Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken - The perfect amount for the 3 of us! Serve with rolls and you're done.    

This was one of my favorite recipes from the line up. I really liked that we didn't have leftovers and that it was so healthy and flavorful. Don't let the "BBQ" fool you. It isn't like traditional BBQ. Honestly, I'm not sure why it's called "BBQ Chicken" since it's more like flavorful, fall apart chicken with veggies.

*Chicken Taco Soup - Makes a LOT. Maybe cut recipe in half? We've already gotten nearly 2 full dinners out of it so I ended up freezing the other half for later. Also, if chicken breasts are large (.7lbs or larger) you only need 2.

This is a great meal for a large group of people. I wonder if you could split the recipe in half before freezing but I'm not sure if/how that would affect the cooking time?

Bean Stew - A good meal for Friday. Will and Joseph liked it (with black beans), and I thought it was fine for a Friday meal but not something I would be asking for otherwise.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew - I didn't have any, but everyone at the potluck seemed to like it. Makes A LOT.

This is the only meal that I never actually tasted because I gave my second batch of it as an extra meal for a new mom. I got lots of compliments on it at the potluck I took it to, though.

*Sausage and Bean Supper - Very good, but pretty similar to the New England Baked Bean Stew I make. Be sure to use *non-spicy* sausage next time :)

The non-spicy sausage is so Joseph can eat it with us (without tears, because he still gobbles up the sausage even if it's spicy and causing him pain).

Pork and Veggies - Good. Will and Joseph really liked it, but I was just so-so on the meal. We have a decent amount of leftovers, but I don't think quite enough for 2 full meals.

Meat Stew - Good, but not super flavorful. A good simple meal.

Chicken Tortilla Soup - This was very similar to the Chicken Taco Soup, but much more soupy. Very good.

*Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup - I loved this. A good, hearty soup for a cold day.

Overall I was very happy with my experience preparing a bunch of freezer meals at one time. I will likely continue to prepare meals using this method as it made meal planning much easier.

Also, while the woman who wrote the post with the recipes I used this time did all the prep work in one day it took me nearly a week because I couldn't find one full day to do prep without any distractions (aka - Joseph). But it was still worth it to me.

I plan on making all of the *starred recipes again in preparation for baby #2 as they were my favorites. I also plan on trying a few recipes from here this time around. Eventually I hope to have a list of recipes tailored to my family's tastes. It's a slow process trying out new recipes, but I think it will definitely be worth the effort.


Lucy The Valiant said...

I have to start doing this! I've been wondering how all these people on pinterest find a whole day to do nothing but cook, though!

Betsy @ Adventures of an Amateur Housewife said...

I'm totally with you, Lucy! Even if I had a whole day set aside to do it I just don't know that I'd have the stamina to chop and prep and wash dishes for 8-9 hours straight. I think I would go crazy!

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

I am stoked that you already did these! Sweet, sweet, sweet. I only tried 3 recipes, and doubled all of them: the creamy chicken garden soup, chicken and sweet potato, and the bean stew (which I added BACON to for yumminess :) ). Can't wait to taste them! I didn't substitute any ingredients, so we'll see...