Introduction to Freezer Meals - Frozen Assets
By Deborah Taylor-Hough
Following the premature
birth of our first child, a group of ladies from church filled
our freezer with two weeks of frozen meals. Between frequent
visits to the I.C.U. Nursery and the normal stresses of starting
a family, those meals in the freezer were a lifesaver. This
was my introduction to the idea of freezing meals ahead. Since
then, I've applied this concept to our regular family meals.
I save substantial time, effort and money in the process.
Some cookbooks refer to
this as "investment cooking." Often I'll cook one day each
month and have 30+ main dinner meals tucked away in my freezer,
ready to thaw and heat for a month's worth of easy meals.
The popular book "Once-a-Month
Cooking", by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, outlines
step-by-step menu plans for cooking 30 meals in a day. I found
the meals in "Once-a-Month Cooking" to be too expensive for
my limited grocery budget (lots of expensive pre-made ingredients),
but by applying their methods to my own less expensive recipes
I've been able to save money by purchasing in bulk. This method
also cuts down on those quick (and expensive!) trips through
the local drive-thru when I'm rushing the kids to T- Ball practice
or an evening meeting. I call my personal method of cooking
ahead "Frozen Assets."
If you're thinking, "I
could never do this. I only have a small fridge top freezer," don't
tune me out. When I first started cooking ahead, I only had
the small freezer attached to the refrigerator. By packaging
meals in plastic freezer bags and freezing the bags flat, I
was able to store a month's worth of Frozen Assets in my small
An easy way to start building
up Frozen Assets is doubling or tripling recipes as you prepare
them during the week. If you're making Lasagna, prepare three:
one for eating tonight and two for the freezer. Just one week
of tripling recipes will give you a stock-pile in your freezer
of two weeks of meals with virtually no extra effort.
Andrea, the mother of
a two-year-old and seven months pregnant with twins, is starting
investment cooking. Realizing her hands will be full during
those busy post- partum days, she says, "I don't have the stamina
to devote an entire day to standing on my feet cooking, unless
I want to send myself into labor right now! So, I'm going to
triple recipes of easy meals every night until the babies arrive.
I know the extra work now will pay off when I find myself less
harried later. I can devote my energy to caring for my little
No matter who you are,
how big your family or what your lifestyle, whether you're
a single working mother or a mom at home full-time with your
children, investment cooking has something to offer everyone.
Frozen Assets could be
the answer you've been looking for: Save $$$ on your food budget.
Save time in the kitchen each day. Increase the outreach opportunities
frozen meals can provide (meals for the sick, the young mom
on bedrest, a grieving family, etc.).
We could all use a few
more minutes in our day, couldn't we? Anyone out there have
enough time for everything they want to accomplish?
No... ? I didn't think
(serves 4 - 5 people; 2 times)
12 oz. lasagna noodles
1/2 tsp dried oregano (crushed)
2 (15 1/2 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce
2 cups cream-style cottage cheese (or Ricotta)
12 oz. mozzarella, sliced (or shredded)
Add oregano to spaghetti
sauce. In two 10x6x2-inch baking dishes, spreading one cup
of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of each dish. Then make
layers in this order: uncooked noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella
slices and remaining spaghetti sauce; repeat. Wrap pan in foil;
label and freeze. To serve: thaw completely (takes about 1
1/2 days in the refrigerator.) Bake tightly covered at 350
F for about 45 minutes, or until edges are bubbly and center
is hot. Take cover off during final 10 minutes of baking time.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
There's no need to pre-cook
the noodles since they'll cook in the sauce while the Lasagna
bakes. Just make certain that the noodles are completely covered
with sauce. Some people recommend adding a small amount of
water to the sauce (about 1/2 cup), but I personally haven't
found that necessary with this particular recipe.
Taylor-Hough is the author of the popular book, Frozen Assets:
How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month, and the new Frugal
Living For Dummies®. Visit Debi online for more articles
at: http://hometown.aol.com/dsimple Subscribe
to her free e-newsletter by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org