Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guest Post: Freezer Meals as Lunches

The Meal Planning Mommies would like to say thanks to Jen Tolbert for sharing her freezer meal experience with us! Jen is an experienced freezer meal planner/cooker. She has participated in 2 meal planning co-ops (including the one she talked me into joining!) and is very comfortable talking about freezer meals. She is an excellent, frugal cook and loves to cook for her husband and son. Jen is the one who got me interested in freezer cooking and I know you will enjoy what she shares with us this week.


I have been using my freezer to help keep my grocery budget down and to help make meal-planning easy for most of my ten years of marriage. I do two different things, one of which, my husband will jokingly say, "saved our marriage".

The first way that I use our freezer to save time and money is for lunches. I freeze leftover dinner into freezable, microwavable containers. I then label them and stack them in a certain spot in my freezer, so at a glance I can tell how many "lunches" we have.

I make lunches every evening and simply pop a frozen lunch into my husband's lunchbox along with fruit and a soda and put it in the fridge until he's ready to go the next morning. He loves leftovers and will complain if we're out and has to eat soup from a can or a sandwich (poor guy). He sticks his lunchbox under his desk and allows it to defrost a little longer (while keeping his soda and fruit cool) before he reheats it in the microwave at lunchtime (reheating usually takes anywhere between 2-6 minutes depending on how frozen the meal and how powerful the microwave).

He is never tempted to eat out and I never have to make an extra meal or spend time planning one! (Note: not all of our dinners generate lunches but most of them do; also, sometimes we will have 2 or 3 lunches from one dinner and occasionally he does have lunch meetings or goes out with a friend (or takes me on a lunch date) so for us, it evens out).

The other way I love using our freezer to make meal planning easier is by participating in a cooking co-op with friends. This is the one that my husband will say "saved our marriage"! We had only been married a year or so when I first joined a co-op at my church. I was working until 5:30 every night, we had one car and we were living on a small income. By the time my husband picked me up and we finally got home I was starving and in no mood to cook what little food that we had. Joining a co-op put already made food in my freezer at a price that fit into my budget.

So What is a co-op? How can you get one started in your area?

Check back tomorrow for another Guest Post from Jen to get all the info!

1 comment:

reikifeet said...

that's what i do for my husband too! he's a long-haul truck driver. luckily his truck has a fridge and a tiny freezer, and he has a lunchbox-sized oven that holds foil loaf pans. so i cook family-sized dinners even though it's just the 2 kids and me, then i freeze the leftovers in loaf pans & label them. Same thing here -- we don't always have leftovers, or sometimes we have 2 or 3 extra meals worth.

Another thing i do is cook up a batch of rice & partially fill loaf pans with it. He'll heat it up and add a can of beans and spices, or a tin of sardines (shudder!). I also tend to add frozen stir-fry veggies to the meals i make for him -- the kids won't eat it if i cook it that way, as they prefer their raw, so i make it without and add to his. that way they're only cooked once and not mushy.

totally saves our budget!