Cooking with the Ice Queen and the Robot Food Slave (aka Freezer-mealing 1.0)

In Home Life by Jenn0 Comments

I must be having some kind of post-honeymoon/penultimate-week-of-summer crisis that’s causing me to nest ferociously. Last week I went on a cleaning rampage that left the house cleaner than it’s probably ever been since I’ve lived here. I’m also hell-bent on establishing some kind of cleaning schedule so that things do not fall [completely] into chaos and ruin and desolation when school starts, but Science Guy seems recalcitrant. I already have a laminated calendar with sticky icons for different chores, so we’ll see how that goes. ANYWAY…

Today I probably crossed some sort of pre-soccer mom Rubicon by tackling freezer-mealing for the first time. (Yes, I realize freezer cooking is the grammatically normal term, but I’m going with freezer-mealing to spite the high school English teacher who told me to use better verbs.) I’ve been intrigued by the idea for some time but only yesterday, when it was 4pm and I decided I felt too lazy to cook dinner and was saved from failing my wifely duties by a well-timed message from Science Guy proclaiming there was free food on campus, did I finally decide to bite the bullet and go for it. If I feel too lazy to cook now in the summer when there’s nothing I actually have to do, how am I going to feel in two weeks when I’ll be spending 7 hours a day galloping around a science classroom to convince a bunch of teenagers that biology is fun and no, sorry, we’re not going to blow anything up? But I digress.

Some freezer meal plans involve lots of processed, pre-made items and/or cooking lots of ingredients beforehand, which kind of defeats the purpose for me. I didn’t really feel like spending an entire day cooking, and I wanted something I could either throw in the robot food slave crockpot in the morning or pop in the oven for an hour when I get home from school. I generally try to cook with fresh and whole ingredients because it cuts down on the amount of packaging waste we generate and I can control the flavor and nutritional content better. So I started looking for “whole food freezer meals,” not necessarily for any specific health benefits or diet regimen but just because that’s how I’m used to cooking.

I ended up choosing 8 Freezer Meals in 2 Hours from Stockpiling Moms. Science Guy scoffed audibly at the website’s name and I guess it does sound vaguely Y2K survivalist, but I was willing to give it a shot because they had a complete shopping list, instructions for n00bs like me to label containers with instructions and cooking times, and 7 recipes that sounded good to both of us. (We’re opting out of the meatloaf.) There were only a few pre-made ingredients that weren’t too expensive and truly not worth the trouble of making myself (my skepticism toward cranberry sauce has not been allayed in the slightest, but we’ll see), there was no prep besides knifework, and most importantly, all recipes can be given to the robot food slave crockpot to babysit until dinner time.

Most of the ingredients for this meal plan, minus some spices and chicken broth.

Most of the ingredients for this meal plan, minus some spices and chicken broth.

I was really interested in whether the plan would truly deliver 8 meals in 2 hours, so I timed myself. Not counting the hour it took to get groceries (and this mostly because I also decided I wanted to make Jeni’s ice cream and had to spend 10 minutes roaming aimlessly through the middle aisles looking for corn syrup), I clocked in at 2 hours and 9 minutes for 7 meals. Again, this time probably could have been shortened if I’d remembered to keep the cutting boards and knives separate for meat and veggies. I just went through each recipe one by one; maybe someday I’ll get good enough to chop all veggies at once and distribute, all meat at once and distribute, etc. But I didn’t want to be overly ambitious this time (as is my wont).

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All seven recipes minus the honey rosemary chicken which is currently being sacrificed to the robot food slave. I mean, cooking in the crock pot.

As you can see, I opted for the lesser of two evils and sprang for some freezer-safe Gladware containers rather than a box of gallon freezer bags. I already know that I’m way more likely to clean plastic containers than zipper bags. Some freezer-mealers use glass canning jars which would probably be my first choice but I was afraid the ones at Kroger wouldn’t be large enough. These were 1.89L containers and then the pork had to go in a giant tupperware. (I may have to cook that in batches, now that I think about it.)

Some freezer meal plans tally cost per meal, though this one did not. If I deduct the industrial size boxes of cereal and various other groceries not involved in this enterprise, I would estimate the cost of the ingredients to be around $50, including pantry ingredients I already had. If this really does come out to 7 dinners with 4 servings each (though I’m pretty sure 3 pounds of pork will yield waaaaaay more than 4 servings) that’s less than $2 a serving, which is pretty good. I’ll probably wind up supplementing the main dishes with rice or pasta for my carbivore husband and extra veggies for me, so this may very well feed us for the next month, and that’s great! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Until next time,

The Technophile Domestic

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