Thursday, August 20, 2009

Freezer Meals: Recipes That Work

Awhile back, I promised that I was going to start posting more information about freezer meals. It's taken me awhile to get going as I've tried to make a mental list of things I'd like to talk about. I recently received an email from a reader (thank you, Heather, I needed some inspiration tonight!) that reminded me about a freezer meal method that is very easy and convenient, but one that I haven't even taken the time to do.

Dump Recipes
I think the all-time easiest freezer meal has to be the one where you take some meat, dump it in a bag, dump in something as a marinade, and eventually dump everything into a pan to cook. Can it get any easier than that?

As much of a fan of freezer meal cooking as I am, strangely enough I rarely make dump recipes. Not that I'm opposed to them--far from it! It's mostly because of how my menu planning works. I use what works for me. I buy my meats ahead of time and stop when I have enough meat and freezer meal cooking day approaches, then I do a book all-day cooking event. I probably would make more dump recipes if I thought about it when I purchased the meat, but I usually just throw my meat purchases straight into the freezer, and as freezer meal cooking day approaches, I then make my menu based on my purchases. And so the opportuniy for making a dump recipe has, for me, passed.

But dump recipe may work out for you if you've considered do freezer meals and just haven't started because the thought of an all-day cooking event seems a little overwhelming. So having a stash of two or 3 dump recipes in your freezer each week may be just the thing you need to get your freezer meals started.

What are dump recipes?
Essentially, you take raw (meaning, never frozen) meat and place it into a gallon-size freezer bag. You could also use frozen meat, just make sure that you don't let it thaw and then try to refreeze it. That would just promote the growth of bacteria like salmonella, and you don't want to risk your and your family's health for the sake of a time-saving meal.

After putting your meat into the freezer bag, "dump" in a marinade or other ingredients that you want to cook with. This could be Italian dressing, barbecue sauce, chopped onion & minced garlic, bell peppers, lemon juice and lemon name it. There are a ton of flavor combinations that you can use.

After dumping in your marinade/ingredients, seal your freezer bag and place in freezer. You'll need to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, depending on how much meat & ingredients you've stuffed into the freezer bag. And if you used a sauce or liquid ingredient, then your meat will marinate in the fridge while it thaws (how convenient is that?!).

On supper day, simply "dump" the meat and ingredients into a cooking dish. This could be a baking dish, a crock-pot, a skillet, the grill...your choice!

How is are dump recipes a time saver? You cut out several steps that you won't need to do on cooking day--mixing together a sauce, marinating the meat, chopping vegetables...There were plent of times in the past when I had "intended" on making a meal, only to find out that I had to chop a ton of veggies, or I had to marinate the meat, and just didn't have time to wait, and I either rushed the meal preparation, or I gave up and made something else instead.

But if I had "dumped" the marinade or chopped the veggies ahead of time & "dumped" them with the meat into the freezer, then I would have saved a lot of time. A lesson that took me a long time to learn (and I hate to admit, still learning as I'm still kinda' incorporating dump recipes into my menu planning. :)

Some great sites out there with tasty dump recipes include Soopermom. She has quite a lot of dump chicken recipes that are really tasty & healthy, too. You can find 175 dump recipes at Recipezaar when you click here. And Lazy Day Gourmet, also a once a month cooking fan like me, posted a YouTube video on her blog about a dump freezer chicken recipe that might help you get started.

Good luck with your freezer meals!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Previous Posts