Tuesday Toss-Up

How Not to Starve During NaNoWriMo

Freeze Ahead Meals for National Novel Writing Month

Hungry bird
Feed. Me. Now.

Imagine this: it’s the end of another NaNoWriMo day. You’ve worked, studied, and/or chased kiddos all day long. Maybe you’ve already knocked out your daily word count or maybe you’re gearing up for a kamikaze session this evening. Your stomach is growling and your family, especially if you’re usually in charge of meal prep, may be eyeing the dog with evil intent. Somebody’s gotta make dinner or it’s gonna be pocket pizzas and candy corn again.

That dog is starting to look pretty tasty.

He knows what you’re thinking and hides under the nearest chair/couch/bed.

Happily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure take-out and delivery arewe are ready (to not cook) always an option, as are those nifty tv dinners (mmmm, LeanCuisine again) but, with almost three weeks left to go, you’ve got plenty of time to store up a freezer full of tasty, homemade food that’s ready to go come those dark NaNoWriMo days.

Some folks call it “once-a-month cooking,” some call it “freeze-ahead meals” and some call it “freezer cooking.” Whatever you call it, it generally involves some menu planning and shopping in bulk, then preparing, assembling and/or cooking enough meals over a day or two to last 30 days.

Baked Rigatoni Pasta Freezer Meal (In Pans)You don’t have to plan for 30 days. Especially the first time around, it’s a lot of work. You can prepare meals for 7 or 14 days even easier than for 30.

This is something I like to do for my family on a regular basis, NaNo or no. By the end of any given day, I’m so very not in the mood to prep and cook a meal. But my kiddos must be fed and good nutrition is important. So, I generally freeze meals for 14 days at a time.

My favorites? Soups, stews, chili and any crock pot meal that can be assembled and frozen without cooking.

Once a Month Mom, Once a Month CookingMama and Baby Love and FrugalMom all have excellent resources for getting started as well as recipes to suit just about anybody. Some of these sites offer membership with monthly menus and shopping guides. Mama and Baby Love offers an ebook with recipes and tips.

Whether or not you’ll do NaNoWriMo, you could still stock up on side dishes and dessert for Thanksgiving. That way, when the holiday rolls around, you can pull them out of the freezer, heat/cook them up and relax (for a change). Once a Month Mom’s 101 Fall Freezer Meals have tons of tasty side dishes and desserts that would work beautifully.

Tomorrow, the kiddos and I will be heading out to a local apple orchard onPicking Apples at the Apple Orchard a homeschool field trip. We’re likely to come home with more apples than we can possibly eat fresh, so I’m planning to put up the majority of the apples for later. I’m thinking of canning some apple sauce and apple jelly.

I’ll also be experimenting with freezing filling for apple crisp. I’m going to use the freezing technique described on Green Bean Garden (but I’ll be peeling my apples) and this apple crisp recipe from AllRecipes. I could freeze the apple crisp raw and fully assembled in a baking dish but I’d like to put up enough for several apple crisps, I only have a couple of suitable baking dishes and freezing in a freezer bag will take up loads less room (more room for all my other frozen meals). I may also mix up a batch of the crumble topping to freeze as well. That way, on baking day, I can just thaw, assemble and bake.

apple crispNomnomnom.


Have you every tried freeze-ahead cooking? Any tips? How will you not starve during NaNoWriMo?


Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Hungry bird by Marco Vossen, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
we are ready (to not cook) by found_drama, on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Apple Orchard (mine)
apple crisp by bookgrl, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

34 thoughts on “How Not to Starve During NaNoWriMo

  1. Sometimes I’m so good with this and others, well, not so much. If I’m cooking something putsy, I may as well cook enough for 2 or 3 batches — lasagne, meatloaf, stuffed shells.

    But you’ve inspired me to take another look at freeze ahead. One thing I have done is line a pan with cling wrap, then once the dish is frozen, take it out of the pan (tupperware, whatever) and put it in a sealable bag. Thanks for the great resources.

  2. thanks for the link 🙂 its my first time around the NaNoWriMo but I am a lucky one: My husband does the cooking. Great post! Thanks

  3. @Amy: That’s an excellent idea with the cling wrap. That would work really well for casseroles and even pies or crisps.

    @Caleb: So true.

    @Phoenix: That’s awesome. My hubby is the grill master around our house but he often works late so dinner’s usually on me. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

  4. I’ve just filled my freezer with frozen veg.. What was I thinking? Will be doing some batch cooking this weekend and finding some space to freeze them ready.. Great post. See you in nanoland.

  5. I do this all the time. I live alone. Which means that everything is up-to-date. I mean everything. If the phone rings I have to answer it. I can’t even say hey can you catch the door when I’m in the shower. So, I can’t depend on anybody to pick up a loaf of bread on The way home. So, for several years, I have done massive cooking days a couple of days a month, and put away dinners. Everything from steak dinners, two spaghetti, two porkchops, two turkey dinners. It’s great. Especially, when I am really tired.

    I’ve actually been thinking about putting together a number of my recipes into an e-book. Maybe I could call it the Nanel Reimold guide to nutrition.:-)

  6. I love your ideas, Sonia, and that you’re thinking ahead about eating well during your hectic writing time. Whole grain, veggie lasagna freezes well. (People with gluten problems can use sliced zucchini instead of noodles.) I also like freezing cooked brown rice. It may seem silly, but it saves an hour-plus prep time.

    I’m chock-full ‘o recipes, if you ever need extras. 🙂 Good luck!

    1. Oooh, I haven’t tried the sliced zuc instead of noodles but I love that. I totally agree with you on the brown rice. I soak the rice overnight and freeze it. Then I can cook it up in my rice cooker like white rice.

  7. I like to buy things like peppers and cut them up and freeze them, and also keep frozen peas and other veggies on hand. That way I can use the microwave to nuke up a healthy meal. It is way less trouble than cooking for just me, whether I’m in the middle of a project or not.

    Today I bought some baked chicken at the grocery store, and got a little bit more than I needed on purpose. The leftovers will either be made into fajitas or frozen for a delicious nom later on. 🙂

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