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Blonde Designs is an inspirational blog focused on invitations, parties, and good design. We are Angie Gubler and Kristin Rees, best friends, graphic designers and moms.
We are both former art directors at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings, respectively. 
We own Blonde Designs, an invitation and stationery company.

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Friday
Jan292010

freezer meals

I don't know about you, but from about 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m, my day is crazy. I leave work to pick up my girls from school and with carpool, after-school activities, homework, etc., preparing dinner is the thing I dread.

I really used to love cooking – perusing my favorite cookbooks as I lay in bed at night, ripping out recipes from magazines that I wanted to try. Now, however, with 3 small children + work, there is little time for me to wax nostalgic on the joys of making my own pate brisee (not sure if I've actually ever made my own pate brisee!).

A life-changing event occurred in my life just before the holidays... my friend, Jen, invited me to be part of a freezer meal group. I was skeptical at first – what if the food wasn't good? I decided to give it a try and, thanks to Jen's exceptional organizational skills, it has been a huge success. There are 6 carefully chosen girls in our group. About every 6 weeks, we decide on a selection of 12 meals, each taking 2 meals and making 6 servings of each.

This month I made Chicken Enchiladas Verde and Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers. Usually, one dish is more involved and the other is a simpler meat marinade of sorts.

Don't get me wrong, it's no cakewalk making 6 pans of enchiladas. However, for the 2-3 days that it usually takes me shop, prep and cook, the payoff is enormous. Each of the meals are stored in either a freezer Ziploc or disposable tray and carefully labelled with the contents, cooking instructions and serving suggestions. Then, we meet on a scheduled morning to divide up the meals and leave with 12 dinners that fill up our freezers. The servings are usually for 4 people but with little children, we always have leftovers.

I love that I can walk to my freezer in the morning, take out a meal to defrost and know exactly what we're having that evening for dinner. The stress relief is unbelievable. Ironically, it is actually motivating me to want to cook again! I suggest you try it for yourself. You'll be happy you did.

If you would like additional recipe inspiration, click on the image below for some of my favorite freezer meals thus far. Do you have any recipes you think our group should try?

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Reader Comments (22)

These are brilliant recipes! I can't wait to try them! Thanks for sharing!

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

What a great idea!!! I wish I had more friends that would be interested in doing this. I don't have children but I have a busy schedule and this would make life easier and fun. Thank you for the suggestion.

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

A few years ago I did a fresh dinner exchange with a few friends and this lasted for about two years. Our husbands worked together and would take the meals to work to exchange. It was fantastic. However, now I started batch cooking and freezing my own. I'm loving the book Fix, Freeze, Feast by Neville and Tkacsik. Everything I've made so far has been wonderful and the whole family will eat it. The ingredients are whole (not canned soups, etc) and there is a lot of variety. It is based on warehouse shopping, so you use the sizes you buy there and each recipe makes roughly three meals.

In just a few weeks of cooking from this book, I have over 30 meals in my freezer. Now I only prepare 1 meal a week! This is just what I needed after adding a third baby to our family a few weeks ago. I really can't say enough good things about this book.

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterGeralyn

A few friends of mine started doing this a few years ago...right after I moved away! I hear it is fantastic!

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

This is a brilliant idea, I'm going to get my girldfriends togterh to do this. Thanks for sharing the idea and the recipes.
Cheers
Engracia

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterEngracia

Thanks so much for sharing your recipes! They sound delicious! This would be great for when the baby comes (or right now)!

This is so great! My husband and I don't have kids yet, but we both work full time and are in grad school - cooking is a huge stress when you have to get to class. This is so helpful!

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I did this a couple times and was so thankful for weeks after wards. The key is finding the time, isn't it?! There is a great web site - Once a Month Mom that posts shopping lists, recipes, and timelines for you already so you can cook for a full day with a partner and end up with a month full of meals for 2 families! It's a lot of fun and a great resource.

01.29 | Unregistered CommenterTrisha

I've made stuffed shells for friend's that have had babies, and this recipe freezes well:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/stuffed-shells-with-arrabbiata-sauce-recipe/index.html

01.30 | Unregistered Commentermaryann

I recognize that it is easier to order the masters thesis and buy dissertation about this topic, than to create by own efforts.

love this idea, but alas my nyc rental freezer can barely accommodate my ice cream stash

02.1 | Unregistered Commenteriyang

WOuld you be willing to share the labels you used for these recipes? thanks

02.1 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

You all might be interested in www.plummelo.com

You can save recipes from all over the web, plan meals and generate shopping lists.
Really simplifies the process and saves time!

02.1 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

A quick question: Do you cook the Fiesta Chicken in a slow cooker or stove top?

Thanks!

02.4 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Dang, I wish I had friends who liked to cook and were good cooks, this would make life here so much easier!

Instead, I'm off to the good Italian grocery this weekend to pick up their homemade freezer meals. Yummmy...(now to find a little grocery with Mexican, one with Indian, one with Japanese, one with ...)

02.5 | Unregistered CommenterLJ

I have to second Geralyn's comment recommending Fix Freeze Feast...It's a great source, especially for a cooking group. I'm in a cooking group with 5 other gals and we use this book almost exclusively. Our favorites have been the tons of great marinades for meat you just pop on the grill, so they're low effort pre- and post-freeze. Everything we've made has been delicious and well-received by our families.

02.5 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

it's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.

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I have always been a big fan of frozen foods. I love this post but now I'm getting confused as to how am going to find the time to do all the shopping. lol. Thanks for the freezermeal recipes though.


Eric

Are you willing to share any new recipes that your group has made? I love this idea and really want to start something with our local Moms group!!!

03.18 | Unregistered CommenterLMP

with this new recipe, I end my personal cook book, by the way if you obtain my book in the local stores, the owner give you a Viagra Discount in this and many others products.

Brilliant post you have made. Thanks for sharing great experience and your recipe. Keep sharing in future, too.

07.8 | Unregistered CommenterFreezers

I love Italian food, I think is the best in the world, however most of recipes are a few difficult to prepare and the cost of ingredients,,, well, ingredients are expensive., u know...
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