Monday, January 31, 2011

Freezer Meal Night

My sisters, momma and I with (1) family's meals from the night
I mentioned that I did another freezer meal night with my sisters and mother dear the other night.  It required a lot of prep work and planning (I was in charge of it this go around) but was so worth it.  I have had several people ask for the recipes we used, and how we do this.  My sister Ali started the tradition for us several months ago and this was only our second go around, so by no means do I claim to be an expert on the subject.  Overall though, we've had some really yummy meals and I think we did pretty well with planning the right amounts (with the exception of our French Dip Sandwiches...kind of a laughing matter for us the whole night actually). 

Today I will post how to plan and prepare for your own freezer meal event, and over the next week or so will post the recipes we used.

First, select your recipes:
We have made (10) different recipes each time we've done this.  It's worked well for us.  Several of them make large amounts, so some of us opted to divide several of our meals into two nights worth.  We also tried our best to get a variety of recipes (mexican, italian, soup, sandwiches, etc etc).

Multiply your recipes and divide up shopping list:
This was actually the most time consuming part.  Several of the recipes make a ton of food, so often times we only multiplied an original recipe by 3 for example, instead of (5) for all 5 of our families.  Next, I typed up the list of all ingredients with specific instructions for how they needed to be prepared (i.e 4.5 cups chopped onions, or 5 lbs ground beef, browned).  I divvied up the list amongst the 5 of us, making sure to give each ingredient that was duplicated on several recipes to only one person, so that we could buy in bulk and save on cost.  I also had to keep in mind what grocery items had more major prep work, and was careful to divide that up evenly so that one person wasn't stuck with preparing all the meat for example, or grating all the cheese.

Each of us purchased our assigned ingredients (looking first for the best deal of course) and made sure to keep our receipts to reimburse one another at the end. Perhaps the greatest part about buying everything in such large quantities is how much money you save.  We averaged about $5-$6 PER MEAL for our whole family.  Eat that, Little Caesers!

Prepare your assignments at home:
When I sent out the lists to each person, I gave them assignments for any prep work that needed to be done.  We try to do as much of the time consuming work at home (or anything that needs to slow cook) so that we can simply assemble the rest when we are together.  Some of the prep work that went on this time around was:  peeling and cutting veggies, chopping LOTS of onions, grating cheese, browning ground beef, slow cooking beef with other ingredients for enchiladas, and slow cooking beef for french dip sandwiches.

The Main Event- Freezer Night:
We all met at my moms house and began the mayhem.  Each of us in addition to our food assignments brought:
  • A large cooler (to bring our food in and to take our finished meals home in)
  • Our own bags of gallon sized and quart sized freezer bags
  • Our own plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and cooking spray
  • Our own casserole dishes (as specified per recipes)
  • Our assigned pots/pans, mixing bowls, utensils, knives etc as needed per recipes
We set up two tables to work on.  A prep table for food, and a "packing" table where we laid out our "stuff" assembly line style so we could keep track of whose items were where and quickly prepare each person's dishes/ bags as needed.  This worked really well for us as often times one person got all of the bags or dishes ready instead of everyone stopping what they were doing to prepare their own items.

Assembly line table for packaging

Prep table

We organized the recipes based on the amount of time/work required.  We started first with the more difficult/time consuming recipes.  We worked best with two people working together on one task at hand.  Once one recipe was completed, it went into the bag or dish, was labeled with a sharpie, and put into the coolers.

Recipes sorted into piles: fast, medium, time consuming
*** A very critical part of the night for us is ordering in chinese.  You can't imagine how hard it is to smell the wonderful aromas on a hungry belly.  The last thing we wanted to do was prepare another meal for us to eat that night... Chinese it is! ****

Label frozen meals with instructions, or print out an instruction sheet that you have handy for serving your meals:
I'd say that header is pretty self explanatory :)

Overall, our evening lasted about 5 hours this time around (which was pretty fast for us- the first one was about 6-7 hours).  It is a lot of work but so worth the effort to have delicious home cooked meals ready at your fingertips.  We have decided to keep this a quarterly tradition.  Considering that I've already used 2 of my meals over the last week, it looks like I may be in trouble. :)

Recipes you can look forward to shortly:
  • Mini Meatballs
  • Leftover Baked Potato Soup
  • Shredded Beef Enchiladas
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • French Dip Sandwiches
  • Peanut Curried Chicken
  • Penny Wenny's Creamy Salsa Chicken
  • Lasagna
  • Beef Stew
  • Stromboli

~ PW


  1. What an awesome idea! I would love to do this sometime.

  2. Thank you so much for this!! I've been wondering about planning one of these Freezer Nights!
    I'm becoming a follower! Your blog topics are fantastic- things that my friends and I love to chat about!
    If you have a second I'd love for you to visit my blog- although I'm still working on a specific direction I want to take it in.


I can't wait to hear from you! If you have any detailed questions, please feel free to email me- Thanks!