For Christmas my mother bought us a freezer.  I had been toying with getting one over the past year, and everyone I talked to who owned one espoused what a fabulous purchase it had been.  So when my mother asked what I’d like for a present I was prepared with an answer for once 😉  (Just to clarify, I actually asked her to contribute to the purchase as it’s a fair amount of money but she made it our family gift.  Didn’t want you all thinking that I ask for such large ticket items!)

I’ll try not to sound insane but, quite frankly, I’m in absolute smitten with our new freezer.  I’m even considering giving him a name.

While I had time off in December, I started my toll of the internet for vegetarian freezer meals and found quite a few sites that talked about making a “month of meals” which sounded quite appealing, if initially arduous.  Since I generally hate cooking having one day of all out kitchen hell sounded more appealing than my current situation of racing around daily trying to pull together a meal with my child rolling around under foot.

So I followed some of the advice on the various sites.
Tips for Power cooking
Tips on freezing food
Once a Month Cooking Tips
Tips and tricks for doing a BIG cook

First and foremost PLANNING!  I am the worst about shopping for groceries without a plan.  At which point, several days later, I find out I have all the ingredients for fajitas except cheese, or some other such nonsense.   Needless to say, if you plan on making double or triple batches of 5 different meals you will need an accurate grocery list.

Another fabulous tip was from {never} homemaker, and it was to collect all cuttings in one large bowl.  We keep our compost in a bag in the freezer, so it can be inconvenient to repeatedly take it out to collect all the trimmings.  This way, I was actually able to conveniently collect all the vegetable trimmings and set them aside for making stock.

The next tip that I would agree with is to make recipes that cook in different ways: one bakes in the oven, another is a pot of soup, the next is a slow cooker, etc.  Then you don’t have recipes competing for the same pot and you can make more simultaneously.

Several sites say to divide up your work and minimize the use of appliances.  This is one where I disagree, at least for me it didn’t work.  I prefer one tiring day of hell and messy mayhem.  But then I don’t like cooking to begin with, so pacing myself wasn’t going to make this a pleasant activity.  My focus was on accomplishing as much and as fast as possible.  I’m also only cooking each recipe to feed 2.5 people for 4 days, so a family of 4 may need to divide and conquer.
So I collected my recipes and made my grocery list one day.  The next, I did both shopping and cooking and clean-up.  I was able to finish 4 out of 5 meals.  Quite frankly the sense of accomplishment was a huge pay off for me, and has made subsequent meal preparation a tad more enjoyable.  Now that I can cook a large batch and both feed my family that day and also set aside 2-3 more days of meals…. such a thrill!  Does that sound sad?  That I’m elated by frozen food?  Oh well, you get your joys where you can 😉
Also, while cooking I used every appliance I could.  If it made my life easier and the process faster, I used it.  I rinsed everything as I went so clean up wouldn’t be too insane later, but the pile of used kitchen ware was huge at the end of the day.  So my mantra for the day was just to accept the mess.  It’s only dishes after all.  Plus as the person cooking so many meals, the task of dishes was passed on to my partner for the majority.  There’s no such thing as a free meal~ childcare and dishes are the payment here.

At the end of the day I was quite satisfied with how it all played out.  It took far less time than I had anticipated.  My one learning point was in regards to recipes.  In my case I only had one decent freezer meal in my repertoire – white bean, kale and sweet potato curry.  The rest I had to source from the ‘net.
Since I was only making food to freeze that day, it means that our freezer meals are going to be a bit of a Russian roulette, taste-wise, as we haven’t tried any of the recipes before.  Now that we have a starting point (meaning a freezer full of meals) I can, in future, cook a large batch for dinner and freeze the rest knowing if the meal has turned out well or not.

The other point to remember is to make sure you have sufficient storage containers.  For most, this would be a no-brainer; however, for the less fore-thinking types out there, such as myself, this is a good reminder 😉  I have plenty of Tupperware, but I don’t want all of it used as storage in the freezer, so I bought some freezer bags and foil containers to use.  I’ve also started saving my yogurt containers to use in future.  They are a good size for 2.5 servings of soup/stew/chili.

And lastly, if you’re thinking about getting a freezer, do it!  Sam (my freezer, who I’ve now named) and I are in heaven.