Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Vacation Tips: Freezer Meals Save Your Sanity!

I accidentally found a great way to prepare for after a vacation or to feed your family real food, real quick when time is short during the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve holidays – freezer meals!


Of course you folks who are regular freezer meal makers are probably laughing at me because my epiphany is nothing new to you. But like most things in the Lazy Budget Chef household, I fell into vacation freezer meals by accident because it filled an urgent need.

We were getting ready to go on vacation and still had a bunch of fresh produce in the refrigerator we wouldn’t finish before we had to leave for New Orleans. (I’ll write about how I vacationed with food allergies a little later in the holiday season on Lazy Budget Chef so stay tuned!)

Real Food Pantry Freezer Meals for Lazy People

 

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  • Base your freezer meal recipes on what you have in your kitchen first. Since my first goal was to keep the food we already had on hand from spoiling during our vacation, I based my freezer meals on what I had already planned to make when I originally went grocery shopping (pizzas) and searched Pinterest (follow me at Condo Blues on Pinterest pretty please?) for recipes using the ingredients in the refrigerator that didn’t have a predetermined plan.

Here’s my vacation freezer meal recipe plan:



  • Instead of preparing my eight meals in one day long cooking marathon, I broke it up into two days of cooking for a few hours each. I understand part of the appeal of cooking make ahead freezer meals is to do all of the cooking at once.  I had a family event I had to attend that wouldn’t allow me to do that.
I like this way better because it gave me a break. It also gave me time to use the dishwasher to clean everything I needed for the next batch of meals instead of needing to hand wash dishes. I’m not a fan of hand washing dishes. Lazy, remember?

  • Chop/prepare all of the ingredients for your freezer meals at once. This is a great idea if your menu allows because it will save time in the long run. U
Unfortunately, I couldn’t for this for everything because my breadmaker isn’t large enough to make all of the dough I needed for the pizzas and the hand pies in one massive batch. This is another reason why doing this over two days worked better for me so I had time to use and clean the bread maker for two of my three recipes.

  • Slightly undercooking freezer meal recipes or not cooking at all might keep your meals from drying out when you cook and reheat them for dinner.  This will depend upon your recipe of course. For example, I thoroughly cooked the casserole because it has chicken in it but only cooked the stuffing of the hand pies again, because I used chicken sausage. Not prebaking the hand pies saved a lot of time. I after rolling and cutting the dough I was done with the recipe after stuffing the hand pies. Yay for easy!

  • Allow the recipes to cool (in necessary) and pop them in the freezer for a few hours before vacuum sealing them. If I didn’t, the vacuum sealer would have smashed the pizzas and hand pies into mush when it sucked all of the air out of the vacuum bags. Guess how I know?

  • Dance with joy, when you come home from vacation to a healthy home cooked meals that only take a few minutes to heat in the oven. Truthfully, Husband and I weren’t exactly dancing. We still wanted to be in New Orleans and eating wonderful Cajun and Creole food but it is nice to not have to go grocery shopping immediately after coming home. 
 What’s even better is we can rely on those freezer meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season when we want to eat a quick and healthy home cooked meal before darting off to any number of holiday activities.

How do you save time during the holidays? Do you make freezer meals? What are your tips? Even better, what are your favorite recipes?

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