In March my friend Carol had a “Dream Dinners” party. I knew about the company because I’d done something similar once but that place went out of business pretty quickly. I didn’t know you could have a “party” though. It’s pretty neat. You get an email invitation, accept it, then pick and pay for three meals to prepare at the party. I chose Mexican Meatballs, spicey shredded pork thing that was topped with cornbread – kind of like a casserole, and something called Pub Style Chicken with Mashed Potatoes.
It’s actually a pretty neat arrangement. For each dish on the menu there is a prep station with all the ingredients laid out for you. You follow the directions on the recipe card and package it all up- usually in Ziploc freezer bags, but sometimes (in the case of the pork and cornbread thing) in disposable aluminum pans and add the recipe directions. (They print these for you too!) There are no leftover ingredients that you’d end up tossing, and everything is pre-chopped for you. You just review the menu, choose your dishes, and select a time to go in and assemble everything.
All three dishes were really yummy, and perfectly packaged for Johnny to take to work! He just puts the bags in the fridge to defrost when he starts his shift, then follows the directions on the enclosed card and he’s got dinner! I immediately signed up to go back the following month!
The only problem I saw with this plan though, is that Johnny is pretty picky. He won’t eat green chiles, is allergic to bell peppers, and hates mayo, sour cream, cream cheese and ranch dressing. You can leave those ingredients out, but sometimes it leaves something a little lacking in the meal. I try to choose things I know he’s going to like, but sometimes that gets pretty hard – especially since you can’t review the entire recipe when you make your reservations. So that got my wheels turning…..well heck! I can do this at home too! (Duh – of course I can, but it took doing this to see that with very little planning and organization it really wasn’t all that hard after all.) ANd since I have a 21 cubic ft
First things first – easy stuff. Make a HUGE batch of chili, let it cool, and package in quart size freezer bags. Lay them flat in the freezer. After they are frozen you can stack them, or stand them up or whatever you need to do to keep your freezer organized.
Spaghetti sauce! Same process as the chili!
When Johnny leaves for his shift I just take out what I need. Each meal is packaged in a gallon size ziploc along with whatever sides I’m sending (corn muffins for the chile, the uncooked pasta and breadsticks for the spaghetti) with cooking directions. I put the whole lot in an ice chest and when he gets there he puts his meals for the next few days in the fridge to defrost.
The possibilities are endless! I’ve pro-cooked ground beef, shredded chicken and shredded pork and put about 1 lb in each qt size bag. I’ll be doing some beef soon too, and sharing some recipes as I learn about and fine-tune this process!
Love, Fire Wife