Freeze Ahead Meals for National Novel Writing Month
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 are 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.
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 Cooking, Mama 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 on 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.
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
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