Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stocking the Freezer

For some reason "stocking the freezer" sounds like something one should only do around Christmas time, but really, if you have the time and resources it's something everyone should do. (And if you don't have time, make time. In the long run, you'll be way ahead of the game.) Especially if that someone is me - I work full-time, I'm a single mom of two kids, I commute 45 minutes to work one way every day and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in the world in that aspect. Lots of people do what I do, but they're selfish and won't share their secrets to success. Lucky for you I am not selfish and I like sharing. Unless it's my last piece of chocolate, in which case, if I haven't given birth to you (and even that's iffy) don't bother asking.

Since moving to the house, mealtimes during the week have been a struggle. We walk in the door a few minutes after 6 p.m. and the kids are starving. And while they're whining about starving, they also want me to turn on the T.V., or show me stuff, or are raiding the fridge because the five seconds it takes me to take off my shoes is just way.too.long. and they might starve to death waiting for me.

A lot of nights we eat quick foods - canned soup and sandwiches, spaghetti, pancakes... McDonald's before leaving town. The kids themselves also pose some challenges with menu planning. The Diva is 4 years old and pretty much fearless when it comes to food. She is always willing to try a new dish, a new food, and very rarely does she not like some thing. (We have "normal" eating phases where she isn't interested in eating much for about a week and then will eat anything that holds still long enough.) The Spawn poses most of my meal planning challenges. He is picky and resistant to trying new foods. Pretty much if it doesn't fall under Pizza, Hot Dogs, Bologna, McDonald's or Spaghetti, he isn't interested in it. Many things he passes simply on principal - he has high functioning Asperger's so not eating Hamburger Helper because the commercials are annoying is perfectly logical and reasonable to him. I keep trying to find things that he likes, with limited (read: no) success. I keep trying and once in awhile, he tries to like something too.

When I moved into the new house there was a large deep freezer in the basement, in working order. It's old and probably not as energy efficient as newer models (probably even less so because I keep it barely stocked), but it's in already in the house so I started using it. Up until a few weeks ago, I barely kept anything in it. Mostly sandwich meat, cheese, bread, pizza and ice cream. The last few weeks I have really done some looking around (on the web and asking friends for recipes that freeze well) to figure out how to make this freezer work for me.

The game plan going forward is to start compiling a list of items that my family uses (or would like to use) frequently and when time allows, to make batches specifically for the freezer. I'm going to attempt to make one extra meal every shopping trip (I'm on a bi-weekly pay schedule and do my grocery shopping only on payday) to specifically stock the freezer.

A few things I have coming up for you are:
  • pizza crusts
  • Sausage and Lentil Soup
  • pita bread
  • hamburger buns
  • beef stroganoff
  • beef and bean burritos
I will also be noting in more recipes when I think some thing would work well as a quick freezer meal. We'll meet up in July to see how my freezer looks - okay?

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