I have always been intrigued by the "cook once a month" idea. You know, where you spend one day incarcerated in your kitchen making 30 meals and then you stick them in your freezer and sit back and take a ride on easy street the rest of the month. So, I bought a book, The Freezer Cooking Manuel from 30 day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy by Nanci Slagle. I really like it. If you are interested in the subject, it is a great place to start, not intimidating at all.
So, I geared up. Went mega-shopping, got a good night's rest (the book suggested that), and hit the kitchen early. Well, my one day in the kitchen turned into 2 days, but it was ok because the book warned me that might happen my first time. The book also warned me I would be tired. The book was not kidding. Holy cow was I tired. I fell into bed both nights dreaming about my Crock-Pot and grating umpteen cups of cheddar cheese. The thought of retrieving one of the 36 frozen meals that I had prepared made me feel sick. (The book also warned me about this and told me in a few days I would get over it).
Anyway it was great, sort of. I don't ever want to do it again that way, but it was an experience. My hands smelled like onion and garlic for a week and the rest of my person just smelled like food. I used to think it would be cool to work in a restaurant. Not so much anymore.
Now what I do, is with my favorite freezable recipes, on the day I am planning on preparing it, instead of making 1 recipe, I make 6. It does not take 6 X the time to make 6 recipes. Maybe 2 1/2 X the time. If I do this once or twice a week, I keep my freezer pretty well stocked. Do we eat "frozen delights" everyday? No, I enjoy cooking and I LOVE cookbooks (I never take a trip without a cookbook), so we probably have one 3 or 4 days a week and I do other things the other days. I couple the frozen meals with a month long meal calendar and it cuts way back on the annoyance of "what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" syndrome.
Anyway, I have told this to my mom and she tells me my sister-in-law is looking for freezer friendly food ideas. So, every Friday, until I run out, I am going to share my favorites. These are the ones my kids and Guapo like. She doesn't have kids yet, but she is married to my brother, whom my kids lovingly refer to as "Uncle Monkey". Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of him doing his famous monkey face, but here's a shot of him with Guapo and my brother-in-law (my brother is the one with dark hair who is not Guapo. He is guapo but he is not my Guapo.). In this picture they were pretending they were in a beer commercial. Strange, I know.
And here is my brother with his lovely wife:
So, I will start with the easiest thing I do. Something I am sure you already do, but maybe you don't times it by 6.
6 Jars of Spaghetti Sauce of choice
1/4 jar full of water per each jar (to get all the sauce out)
6 lbs ground beef
Whatever you like to jazz it up*
Salt/Pepper/Oregano/Parsley/Garlic Salt (whatever you like)
**I like to jazz it up with mushrooms, onions, garlic, sometimes a little green pepper, but just a little because the flavor is pretty strong.
Cook ground beef, drain add whatever veggies you like, cook until cooked. Add sauce, water, salt/pepper/garlic salt to taste. Take out enough for your meal, let the rest cool, and bag in gallon Ziploc bags. If you are worried about leakage, double bag them. Just make sure to get as much air out as possible. After they cool in the fridge, pop them in the freezer, and there you go. 5 meals. Relatively painless.
The night before you want to eat spaghetti, or that morning, take a bag out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. While you are cooking the pasta, prepare a simple salad and slice some crusty French bread and Voilá! The whole thing takes 15 painless minutes. I promise. I did it yesterday.