Monday, January 17, 2011
Convenience Food at it's Best
Today was a wonderful exhausting day. A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that she would come over today and help me make freezer meals. Whoot! After mega planning and a phenomenal grocery store trip by the marvelous husband yesterday we had all the ingredients necessary to put together 20 meals that serve at least 8 people each! Thankfully a couple of stores had meats on sale so I didn’t have to spend my entire life savings (which really amounts to about 24 cents in my wallet) on the food. It was a little more than regular shopping, but in the end the convenience is totally worth it!
I like to think of these meals as almost ready meals. They aren’t your regular casseroles and such. Several years ago my sister in law gave me a couple of “Mega Menu” kits from www.savingdinner.com. I tried them and absolutely love them and have purchase and made some of their other kits as well. The one I did today was a Low Carb Menu for 20 meals. Basically you put all the ingredients together for each meal, but it isn’t cooked yet. These are a good balance to killing yourself all in one day to make meals, and having something easy to prepare. I also get to eat healthier since these are main dishes that avoid things like creamed soups and incorporate more items like fresh veggies, spices, and whole grains, etc. Just in case you like this idea, they have plans for 10 meals or you can just make 5 all chicken or 5 all beef.
Anyway, we had a grand day of chopping, dicing, squeezing, measuring, pounding, and running around changing dirty diapers. We made things like Italian Chicken Skillet- with loads of zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, chicken, and tomatoes, and Mini Meatloaves- which is about half beef, half shredded zucchini, and Nutty Fish- a cod dipped in egg and then dredged in ground pecans and paprika. Of course, after the main dishes are prepared and frozen, then I just have to pull them out and cook them. There are also whole menu suggestions of side dishes and salad ideas to have with it to keep it in the “Low Carb” category. I love it!
One of my favorite discoveries recently has been mashed cauliflower. I really should stay away from that big heaping pile of buttery mashed potatoes and this menu suggested using cooked, mashed cauliflower with a little cream cheese, salt and pepper instead. Does it taste like potatoes? No. However, it makes for a yummy creamy substitute that I can enjoy and even put a little gravy on if I choose.
So, now I have preassembled meals for a month in my chest freezer. I couldn’t be happier! Our family can all eat the same thing at dinner and I can rest easy knowing that I’m being “good”. For anyone that has struggled to stay on some sort of diet while feeding your family, who is not on a diet, you know it gets old trying to figure out two meals every single day. This combines things so that if I want to add bread for them I can, but if they just eat what I’m serving for myself, then I can be confident that they are consuming something that is good for them too. And it helps me keep from slacking off as much on what I’m eating.
Bottom line: we had a good time and it’s all done and in the freezer waiting, or perhaps begging to be pulled out in a couple of days.
I’m now off duty, the children are in bed, and I’m putting my feet up. I just might go to sleep a wee bit early- smiling all the way.