]Freezer meal websites are popping up all over the place. As we try to cram more into our days and still want to be able to have a healthy meal on the table, freezer meals appear to be the “quick fix” we are looking for.
I have done quite a bit of research on freezer meals and making 30 meals in one day. (Yes, some people make a month’s worth of meals at one time). Each time I read about it, I shake my head, knowing that it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The fine print of this meal-prep method is that it can take hours to plan out the menus and shop for groceries. Many of the sites also suggest having a helper present (by “helper” I don’t think they are referring to my ever-so-eager 2.5 year old). Plus, many of these recipes require 10-15 minutes (or more) of cooking time the day you eat them.
I don’t know about you, but convincing my husband to find a sitter for the kids for two days (one for planning an shopping and the other for cooking) and to come help me cook for the entire day, just isn’t in my cards. Another claimed benefit of the once a month cooking is that it is supposed to save money. I wonder if the cost of the freezer bags and pans have been calculated into the cost. And let’s not forget about the cost of purchasing an extra deep freeze and the electricity to run that freezer for the year.
Now, that’s not to say that all make-ahead meals are bad, but in typical American style, we have taken it to the extreme. A more realistic approach is to use the recipes you currently cook and make a double batch for use later. It is quite easy to build up a few meals in your freezer for those days you don’t have the time or desire to cook.
So, don’t get discouraged if the thought of planning out an entire month’s worth of meals stresses you out. (It scares me sensless). You can still use freezer meals. Just go slowly. Here is one freezer meal that we use and is so easy to throw together. Make up one for tonight’s meal and a second for a meal later.
One of my biggest challenges of freezer cooking is finding recipes that include enough fruits and vegetables. The days I choose to include freezer meals are days that I don’t want to or have time to prepare a fussy side dish. This meal is loaded with both fruits and vegetables and is an easy lazy-day meal.
All you need:
4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce*
2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large can pineapple tidbits
1 onion, chopped
All you do:Combine all ingredients in a freezer bag.
To prepare: Thaw. Cook in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours. Serve with rice.
*To make gluten-free, use gluten-free teriyaki sauce.