Dinner hour. It comes all too fast, doesn't it? In the summer, it is hard to stop when you're having a good time to think about dinner. And yet going out to eat frequently is a big drain on the budget. What do we do? Enter the freezer. With a little planning and preparation, we can simply pull out a meal from our freezers. My freezer was a huge help when I was pregnant, but since then, I must admit that I have slackened off in my efforts. I try to plan my meals a month in advance, but there sometimes plans change and I'm stuck again.
This is my dilemma more often than I like, so I was particularly excited to receive this month's review product from Eternal Encouragement: Lorrie's What's For Dinner, Mom? book on bulk cooking for the family. It reminded me that if I was going to make dinner, I can just as easily make doubles of the same dish and then freeze it for another time. If I did this every night for a week, I'd have doubled my efforts.
This 194 page book is divided into two sections: a section on how to cook in bulk for our families and a section of recipes (main dish to dessert) that can be prepared and frozen to eat later. (The recipe section is usually why I pick up a book, to be honest.) If you like American fare, then Lorrie includes many of her family favorites. The beginning section details some of Lorrie's own lessons from the "school of hard knocks"---lessons that she has learned and is passing on to us so that we don't have to learn them the hard way either!
If you have no experience in freezer cooking, Lorrie gives a great doable primer. She shows us how to plan a meal rotation, gives a step-by-step guide on how she does it, and explains how to prepare foods for the freezer (e.g. containers to use, the advantages of Ziploc bags, flash freezing, and so on). She also shares cool tools to invest in, getting your kids involved, and how to organize your freezer after you have prepared all those lovely meals. And she does it in an easy-to-read way, full of her own stories, humor, and examples.
With Lorrie's book, I learned a lot of things I did not know before in my past forays into freezer cooking, and it gave me some basic principles that I can extrapolate into my family's favorite meals. Even if you like to cook differently, I encourage you to not just look at the recipe but try to learn a principle that you can apply to your style. Perhaps it can simply be pre-marinating meat before you freeze it or buying in bulk and cooking it all at once. I have found every little bit helps, even if I don't make full meals.
I found tons of ideas that inspired me in Lorrie's book, ones that I am eager to try in the meals that I know my family likes to eat. The one lesson I really appreciated was Lorrie's formula on how to cook pasta. I'm going to experiment with this idea and see if I can't pre-cook and freeze pasta for use in pasta salads, crock pot meals, etc. Even if I don't use it in a dish, with a little forethought, I might be able to trim off 20 minutes off my prep time. I have already found cooking ground beef and freezing them in one-pound portions a great convenience. I guess I'll have to try and find out!
One thing I really appreciated about Lorrie is her constant voice of wisdom throughout the book. Maybe those are the things I "hear" the most. There are tons of how-to books out there on freezer cooking, but her gentle reminder that meal preparation is not just a chore but a ministry---now that is something I need to hear. I am looking forward to moving back into our remodeled home and stocking up my freezer again so that I will not just have food for my family but for guests as well. After all, isn't that one of the perks of summer---friends, food and fun?
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Details: What's For Dinner, Mom? by Lorrie Flem, 196 page, wire bound (nice for cooking!). $12.97
But wait! There's more! If my review is chosen as the Gabby Moms winner of the month, one of my readers will receive a copy of the book! All you need to do is comment below on this post. Make sure you enter a valid email when you sign in with your comment.