I am constantly searching for easy ways to make a healthy dinner for the fam, and from talking to all of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances and looking at others’ Pinterest Pins, I think every other mother (and some dads!) are, too. Well, we’ve found JUST the thing for Smarties everywhere: the Stock Your Freezer in a Snap program. I’ve tested this out in my own kitchen, and I’ve experienced these “bonus hours” firsthand, and let me know tell you: it’s totally legit.
Created by a former personal chef, busy-mother-of-two, and creator of the blog The Full Plate, Eila Johnson (who lives in the Northeast but is married to a Charlottean – love those QC ties!), Stock Your Freezer in a Snap is a cook-in-bulk-and-freeze “kitchen coaching program” that will literally take the dinner time stress away. The idea is to cook ahead “in bulk” and have your freezer full of delicious home-cooked meals so that on a busy weeknight, all you do is simply thaw and cook OR go straight from freezer to oven. You can then enjoy a “bonus hour” when you would be cooking to do whatever your heart desires (or whatever your kids are demanding) – maybe you take a walk, play with the kids outside, get baths out of the way, or just enjoy a glass of wine.
Eila sent me a copy of her e-cookbook and Stock Your Freezer in a Snap guide so I could give it a test run to see if it REALLY held up to all it claimed to be. I have four picky eaters, a traveling husband, and two part-time jobs. Plus, I would never consider myself a cook or a meal planner, so I thought of this as the ultimate test.
I was a little overwhelmed when I first received the PDF. It is chocked FULL of helpful info, but it was a tad daunting for me (because of the sentence above :-)). I printed it out, put it in a 3-ring-binder, waited until the kids went to bed, and dug in. It’s like she was speaking to me in this guide – she gives step-by-step instructions on how to do EVERYTHING. From cooking and meal planning to freezing and thawing food safely. She gives detailed ideas for storage containers (including where to find them!) and helpful hints on organizing the freezer so you actually know what’s in there. Every item you need for success is listed, every question you have will be answered. And if it’s not, go to the private Facebook page for Meals in a Snap members and ask away.
I was definitely a little nervous when I started my shopping list and cooking prep. But, when I got down to it, I had many of the items needed already in my pantry or fridge. It was just a new way to look at those items. Then, when it came time to cook, it was SO incredibly simple to follow the recipes and cook in bulk, I wondered where this idea had been all my life. I love how she embraces shortcuts (like pre-cut onions, celery, and carrots) and simplifies everything with a check-friendly list.
Yes, it takes a little time. I spent about 2-3 hours on a couple of Sunday afternoons cooking while my husband took the kids out somewhere (I don’t ask questions). Because the kids were out, it was some of the most enjoyable time I’ve ever spent alone, and it was so efficient. Plus, those couple Sunday afternoons spent cooking have reaped meal upon meal for the family. Eila suggests breaking it up into some weekday nights or mornings (depending on your work schedule) and/or a weekend morning. I also think it’d be a great thing to family-share. Split the recipes with a friend and make freezer-friendly meals for each other! So easy.
One of the things I love most about it is that I can completely control the portions I freeze. She recommends sizes, but since my kids are still small and my husband is usually gone for dinner, we don’t eat a TON (check back with me in 5 years). I love that I can freeze small portions and never waste food. The recipes are delicious and healthy – she has red meat, no red meat, and vegetarian options where appropriate.
It is such an amazing feeling to come home from some activity at 6:30 on a Tuesday night and know a yummy, healthy dinner is figured out and just a few minutes and even fewer steps away. I usually use the bonus hour to supervise bathing kids (I am training the older ones to bathe the younger ones – it’s working beautifully), fill out permission forms, write a post for CSP :-), and yes, of course, have a glass of wine.
– Sloppy Joe’s (DELICIOUS)
– Tahini-Flax Chicken Parmesan
– Layered Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
– Baked Taquitos
– Creamy Pot Pies
– Power Green Pesto
– Baked Zucchini-Carrot Fritters
– Mediterranean Beef Stew
All are family-friendly and have pleased my super picky eaters. I usually have some steam bag of rice and a frozen veggie to round it all out.
Smarty Giveaway and Smarty Steal
I’m so psyched about this giveaway because I know how life changing it can be! THREE (3) lucky readers will win a copy of the Stock your Freezer in a Snap program valued at $50! Here’s how to enter:
2. Like CSP on Facebook and share this link to your Facebook page.
3. Leave your name and email address in the comment section below and tell us what you’ll do with your bonus hour after starting the Stock your Freezer in a Snap program.
That’s it! Enter by 5:00 on April 28. We will announce the winner in our newsletter next Thursday, April 30 so make sure you’re a subscriber!
Good luck and happy freezing!!!