Freezer Meal Party, 10-7-2014

In the fall of 2014, my daughter, daughters-in-law, and I decided to do a meal exchange.  Each of us would make 4 copies of the same main dish (one for each person in the exchange).  This exchange went over really well with our families, and it was nice knowing we’d have a few pre-frozen homemade meals that we could use on days when we didn’t feel like cooking.

A few months later, we decided to up the game a bit, and have a full-blown freezer meal party.  But this time, we’d do all the shopping and preparation together, in one day.  Everyone would get some of each item, same as before.  But instead of only 4 meals, we’d do 17.  Triple the work!  But also more economical. It cost us only about $110.00 per person for the 17 meals.

Each person received the following main dishes, with 4 servings each:

3 turkey breads

3 sausage cheese breads (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

2 honey mustard chicken

3 shredded pork barbecue sandwich filling (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

3 lasagna (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

3 Italian meatballs (unpublished family recipe; similar to this one)

bread-dough-rising

For the turkey and sausage bread loaves, we started with pre-made frozen bread dough.  It’s cheaper to make your own, but for the sake of time and doing all the prep for the meals in one day, we bought the pre-made ones.  Follow package instructions for thawing and rising.

turkey-bread-fillingFor filling the breads, you’ll want to roll them out with a rolling pin, then add your fillings and seasonings. Don’t forget to add lots and lots of cheese.

Fold the sides in lengthwise and pinch them together to completely seal the edges.  Then carefully flip each loaf over so the seam is on the bottom (it’s easier to do with two people). Then add whatever toppings you want on your bread.  The turkey bread uses butter and garlic, yum!

sausage-bread-sealing

turkey-bread-risingHere’s what a dozen turkey breads look like…

After the glaze is on, you’ll want to fold the aluminum foil up around the bread and seal it closed.  Then place each loaf in a 2-gallon ziplock bag to put in the freezer.  This way, the loaves don’t stick together, and you can remove only as many loaves as you need because they’re individually wrapped.

crock-pots-porkThe pork barbecue was the only thing we purchased and started cooking the night before.  We bought pork loin instead of pork butt or shoulder, because it’s leaner.  Just throw it in the crock with some water and onions, turn it on to low, and forget about it for the next 12-14 hours!  The pork just about shreds itself, and all you have to do is drain off any excess liquid (which would make an excellent stock for pork gravy) and add your favorite barbecue sauce.

filling-pork-bagsWe figured the quart freezer bags would be easier to fill if we did this, and it worked great! All you need is a large container that’s taller than it is wide.  Then you can measure the amount of pork filling you want for each bag.  We figured about 3 cups per bag– which is really alot more than 4 people will eat in a single meal, but it makes good leftovers for lunch the next day.  It’s also great for last-minute company.

forming-meatballsThe Italian meatballs went over with our families like gangbusters!  It’s a super simple variation on meatloaf but very versatile. You can add all sorts of sauces to it, anything from savory sauce to marinara to French onion soup! We used a cookie scoop to get evenly sized meatballs, and then baked them in the oven to cook them before freezing.  That makes it easy to just pop a few in the microwave when you really want a filling snack.

baked-meatballs-coolingmeatball-scooper

We did have a little trouble finding an appropriately-sized scoop.  Most of the ones we found were too big.  You want one that’s about 1.5 inches in diameter, maybe 2 inches at the most. Ice cream scoops don’t work as well for this, so keep that in mind.

honey-mustard-chicken-2The honey mustard chicken is another recipe that’s become a favorite with everyone.  Preparation is super simple, and because there isn’t a need to cook anything besides the bacon (or you could use precooked bacon bits for that, if you wanted to), it’s a really quick meal to prep for the freezer.  Just make sure to keep your cheese and bacon separate from the sauce, so that they can go on right at the end of the cooking.

marinara-sauceThe lasagna was next, and we worked the preparation in assembly-line fashion.  First the sauce!  We make our marinara from scratch, which also gave us the bonus of some leftover quart freezer bags of sauce to have for spaghetti.  We could also tailor the sauce to taste and for salt content, which is alot healthier for you.

layering-lasagneWe lined up all the lasagne pans and each person had a job to do, whether it was laying the cooked lasagne noodles, spooning in some sauce, or adding the cottage cheese/mozzarella mixture.  Doing it this way, we were able to make a dozen lasagna pans very quickly.

freezer-meals-stackedWhen everyone was finished, this is how much room it took up in an average freezer above the refrigerator.  It’s surprising how much room is left, because the containers we chose were all similar sized and easily stackable.

We have done another Freezer Meal Party since this one back in December of 2014.  You can take a look here and see how we made 15 family-sized main dishes for $56.94!

%d bloggers like this: