Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Freezer Meal Success!

Alright - I am ready for my foot massage now! I just know I can count on the Historian for a nice one when he gets home!!! Right, hon?

Here is a run down on how my cooking day went today. Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let's get the bad news out of the way, o.k.?

I underestimated in quite a few areas - I'll know better for next time!
  • I underestimate the time. It took 6 hours, instead of 5, but the main problem was clean up time, cool down times and interruptions. I thought that since the children are still at Poppa and Grammy's I wouldn't have any interruptions, but I was wrong! I also had forgotten my own needs - as the lunch and a potty break or two!
  • I underestimated the effort. Why is that I still think that under this apron there is a Super Woman costume ... I am really tired! Next time I'll be less ambitious - honestly - I will! Well, I'll try! Still coming to terms with liver disease, I guess.
  • I underestimated the power of ice tea - my blackberry tea is herbal - I could have used some powerful caffeine!!!
  • I underestimated my lack of ability to focus. I thought I would multi-task and listen to those ministry tapes I've been longing to listen to, but the recipes were new and required some brain power to follow, so I couldn't listen and concentrate at the same time. I'm thankful for Christian radio keeping me company!
  • I underestimated the freezer space required - I should have organized my freezer first!
  • I forgot to count out my freezer bags and ran out of the size I needed.

Chicken in Phyllo - I made the cream cheese version
of these and I think they will be a hit with our family!

All of these little problems are just learning opportunities, and are quite fixable - so lets get to the good news!
  • I made everything I had intended to, with one substitution. I was reading the ingredients on the oil packed sun dried tomatoes for the Italian Stuffed Chicken and realized that it had three really bad preservatives in there - so I made Pecan Stuffed Chicken Breasts instead.
  • Everything smelled and tasted wonderful - that is, the things that I cooked tasted great - some of the recipes I put in the freezer uncooked - but the ingredients smelled wonderful. I loved using my fresh herbs from the garden!
  • My yield was higher and my cost per meal was actually less then I thought since I didn't use the expensive sun dried tomatoes and got more meals then I estimated.
  • The Chicken Tortilla Soup is more full bodied than I thought, so I will use it for a main dish.

French Onion Soup - 4 servings for my Historian
Chicken Tortilla Soup - 3 dinners
Manicotti - 2 dinners
Buttermilk Herb Chicken Breasts - 2 dinners
Chicken in Phyllo - 3 dinners
Pecan Stuffed Chicken Breasts - 1 dinner
Sloppy Joes - 3 dinners
Mama's Joy's Meatballs - 4 dinners

That's 18 meals in the freezer!!!!

Mama's Joy's Meatballs - I let them cool and removed all the fat before freezing.

So, when I take off the sun dried tomatoes, add in the cost of the Chicken Tortilla Soup ingredients and a few other things that I used from my pantry that I missed in my initial estimate, the total was more like $68 which makes each meal $3.78! That works for me!

Pecan Stuffed Chicken Breasts filling - mmmm!

Now, I'm going to finish washing the dishes, wash the kitchen floor, soak my feet and have a nap! There is no need to panic - I've got dinner in the freezer!

I would not feel right about sharing the recipes I used from the book since they are copy written, but I will share my Mum's amazing 'Mama's Joy's Meatballs' next post - they are wonderful! The book 'Don't Panic Dinner is in the Freezer' is in our library lending system - so hopefully it is in yours as well, and if not, try your local Christian Bookstore first (please please keep your neighbors employed folks - local stores are rapidly diminishing and it is a real shame, in my humble opinion), or CBD.

Now, where did I put that mop?

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  1. So glad you had such a success! Although I can imagine how tired you must be! What a lot of work! I'll have to get that book out of the library -- I think I've seen it before. Am looking forward to the meatball recipe.

    My sister made freezer jam and forgot to let it sit out for 24 hours -- therefore it did not jell. Is there any hope for restoring it some way?

  2. Thanks for the plug for local Christian Bookstores. My hubby manages ours here in town. It's sad to hear daily of new stores having to close their doors.

    I'll have to check out that book. I used to do once a month cooking when my kids were babies, but I got out of the habit of it. I miss those long marathon cooking days.

    (To Heather l. that commented, when I have jam that doesn't set up I use it for pancake/waffle syrup. I assume you can do the same thing with freezer jam. I've only ever made the cooked kind.)

  3. Sounds like a good idea. I don't know how I would like doing so much at one time; I do enjoy cooking...I just don't know if I would enjoy doing so much at once. I have thought about doing it, but that is as far as I have gone. I am wondering how fresh the meals taste when you freeze them?

  4. ps. You mentioned liver disease--I was wondering about your symptoms, and what you actually had. I have been having trouble with my liver enzymes off and on, but I think (and hope) mine is related to my gluten allergy.

  5. Wow! You did a wonderful job and it's going to be so nice to have those meals tucked away in the freezer! Now put your feet up and've earned it!

  6. Heather - I've never had to rescue freezer jam - but I think you might be able to throw it in a pot and bring it to a boil to thicken it up - especially if she used the liquid pectin. I wish I could be more helpful! If it doesn't work she'll have plenty of ice cream topping and milkshake flavoring!

    Caednkat - my dad is a small businessman and he taught us the importance of supporting our local small businesses first - which we really try to do. Two local Christian bookstores have closed in the last 5 months - it's sad.

    Nannykim - the authors give a chart for just how long to keep the meals and how long they will taste fresh. They also give great tips for proper storage and I think that helps a lot. When I did once a month cooking most of the meals were cooked and it was a matter of reheating and it wasn't always as nice. My hubby didn't enjoy the results as much since he prefers fresh food. I purposely chose meals that were not pre-cooked this time, and I'll let you know in a couple of weeks how popular they are!

    My liver condition is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (also N.A.S.H. or fatty liver)and it causes my liver enzymes to soar at times - I have pain, swelling, and general exhaustion - but more good days then bad, thankfully.

    Kelli - as I was cooking today I wondered if we were just around the corner from a season of busyness or illness and the Lord was prompting me to be prepared! It feels great to have some meals on hand again.

    Thank you all for your kind encouragement.

  7. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    Honey - once again you amaze this old father of yours. You are such a wonderful home maker. You exhaust us and we are just reading of your efforts.

    Happy to see your successes. . . they truly look yummy.

    The storyteller has asked for (I wouldn't want to say ordered !) banana muffins for breakfast tomorrow so mum is getting the ingredients ready for an early morning shunt.

    Dreamer L O V E S canoe/kayak camp. Glowing again and it wasn't the sunshine either.

    Keep up the great work honey, and look for more positive things ahead.

    Love Ya !


  8. Wow!! That sounds like a very, very industrious and fruitful six hours!! I am totally inspired!

    I look forward to your meatball recipe, and I will definitely be hunting that book. The chicken in phyllo has me completely intrigued and mouth is watering. :o)

    You did an awesome job, and, like I said, I am completely inspired now!


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