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A few weeks ago, Marie McGinnis posted in a FB group I’m in, asking for bloggers to make some meals and review her book, A Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Freezer Meals: How to Get 20 Healthy Dinners Ready in Just a Few Hours. I love the concept of freezer meals, but I hate the planning part, so I accepted the challenge and called my friend Carrie to prep with me. We got our supplies together and met up on a Sunday evening. While Aaron Rodgers came back from an injured leg to win a ridiculous game (Al Michaels was stunned), Carrie and I laughed and rushed and improvised our way through the instructions and ended the evening with seven freezer meals prepped and ready to go. Here’s how it went…
First, on the book. Marie’s instructions are clear and concise. There are two ten-meal “bundles” that are each intended to be prepped all at once. She includes a shopping list for ingredients, a handy butcher page if you are able to have your meat cut to order, detailed assembly instructions for each meal, plus a recipe page with a picture to keep with the meal. There are additional resources following the recipes, such as side item ideas, suggestions for having meal prep parties, and a chart with cooking times and additional ingredients needed for each meal. I highly recommend reading the entire book (about 60 pages total) before starting. If I had, Carrie and I might have had fewer mishaps during our prep time and ended up with ten meals prepared instead of seven.
So, here’s what we did and what we could have done better. Carrie very kindly offered to buy all the groceries and I paid her for my half. I think that’s a really easy, convenient way to get that done. We also could have split things up and it would have been fine too. We had some issues with the meat. If you can use the butcher page and get everything cut to order, that would really be ideal. Or else buy fresh meat and hope your helper doesn’t put it in the freezer when they put groceries away. Our meat was frozen, and we were worried about letting it thaw enough to work with and then freezing it again, which is why we ended up skipping two of the meals. I looked frozen meat up later and discovered that according to the USDA, it is not harmful to thaw raw meat and then freeze it again. It may lose some quality due to moisture loss, but if you have to do it, it’s okay. You can also thaw meat, cook it, and then freeze it again. Just in case you’re wondering.
Because of some unforeseen scheduling delays, we started prepping at about 7:30 on Sunday evening. I thought it would take maybe two hours at the most. I was wrong. It took about four hours, and we probably could have taken five pretty easily. I’d suggest planning about half an hour per meal. Some won’t take that long, but by the time you get set up, prep all the meals, and clean up, it will probably take about five hours total. Next time, we’ll plan for a whole afternoon.
Even with all the issues and errors we had (Carrie joked later that we could write a whole book on how NOT to make freezer meals), we had a lot of fun, and we’ll probably do it again. Even though it’s a lot of work up front, it’s really nice to know that I have a whole bunch of meals ready to just put in the crock pot and cook all day. I’ll post a full review of the book when I’ve eaten more of the meals, but so far the ones I’ve had are pretty good.
As an extra bonus, I got to meet Marie in person last week and have coffee. She’s a busy mom of two young kids, like I am, and it was nice to enjoy some coffee and adult conversation. We talked food, kids, and the challenges and blessings of making money from home. I was really impressed with her and her book. If you’d like to see if a freezer meal prep day is a good plan for you, I recommend checking it out.