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Family Fare: Prepare Freezer Meals for Cold and Flu Season

Chereen.Langrill

Fall has arrived, leaves are turning brilliant shades of gold and red, and there is a chill in the air. But in some cases, the temperature could be rising. Cold and flu season has returned.

Moms have a few things to juggle in the fall: Sports schedules, school schedules, work schedules and more. When someone takes a sick day, Mom becomes a nurse, too. But what happens when Mom needs a little TLC while recovering from a cold or the flu?

Hear those crickets chirping? Uh, yeah. It’s pretty quiet out there when Mom needs some extra help.

Get ahead of those sick days by making meals that can be frozen now for easy heat up later.

It’s a go-to solution for a day when nothing is on schedule, someone is home sick, or Mom is taking a sick day of her own.

Freezer meals are a huge money saver because they are a healthy, inexpensive, flavorful meal that’s easily prepared without the expenses and health pitfalls of commercial frozen meals or fast food.

Consider this: A 24 oz. package of Bertolli Frozen Chicken Florentine & Farfalle Dinner is $5.97 and only serves two. Double that and it’s $12.00 for dinner for four, with no side dishes.

On the other hand, a whole chicken, pasta, spinach, additional vegetables, shredded Parmesan cheese, and refrigerated biscuits cost less than $8.00 for a complete dinner for a family of four.

Combine that with a store sale and coupons, and the price can be reduced even further!

PF Chang’s Beef with Broccoli serves two for $6.97 and is almost $14.00 for a family of four. A similar meal can be prepared at home using fresh ingredients for less than $7, including rice.

I’ve been doing freezer meals for several years now, and I have a “cooking day” about three times a year. These meals feed my family for several months and are a real blessing when I am not feeling well. Yes, you need to spend an afternoon working in the kitchen, but it will make life SO much easier when you are flat on your back, because you can still be Supermom with a 102 temperature!

How to organize and prepare make-ahead meals:

  • Don’t make the entire meal–just the main course. The accompanying sides can be canned and shelved in the pantry or pulled from the fridge when it’s mealtime.
  • Take advantage of warmer days and grill some chicken breasts, steaks, and vegetables.
  • Purchase inexpensive aluminum trays or containers that can go from freezer-to-oven or freezer-to-microwave. To save space, use gallon-sized freezer bags.
  • Always allow food to cool completely before storing, and always leave extra room at the top to allow for expansion of the food when it freezes.
  • Foods with higher moisture content tend to freeze better than drier foods.
  • Slightly undercook any vegetables to prevent them from becoming mushy when re-heated.
  • Use a permanent marker to label your meals with the entrée name and cooking directions directly on the foil or taped to the lid. Include suggestions for sides that can be found in the pantry to complement the entrée.
  • Post a freezer inventory list in the pantry to track meals that are in the freezer. Check off each item as you remove it so you will know exactly what foods are available (this also prevents food from going to waste).

Meal Examples:

Grilled chicken breast with orzo and vegetables. Heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with soup or rolls.

Beef enchiladas. Heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with refried beans and instant rice.

Beef with broccoli. Microwave three minutes, stir, microwave another three minutes. Serve with instant brown rice and canned mandarin oranges.

As a general rule, the following dishes tend to freeze well: baked goods, burgers, burritos, calzones, casseroles, cooked beans, cooked grains, egg rolls/spring rolls, enchiladas, French toast, quiche, lasagna, manicotti, mashed potatoes, meatballs, meatloaf, pancakes, pot pies, poultry, rice/risotto, roasted meats, sauces, sloppy Joes, soups, stuffed shells, taco fillings, waffles and vegetables.

With a freezer meal, dinner may be just what the doctor ordered!

This is a guest post by Deborah from San Diego, CA
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

 

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