Freeze-A-Thon Part I - Organization

March 8, 2010

So, you've made a few recipes, learned some great tips from this site, you've freed up some freezer space and now...you're ready. It's time to host a Freeze-A-Thon. I am going to walk you through the process over the next three weeks. If you prep well and stay organized you can make a crazy amount of home-cooked freezer meals in one afternoon. And I can show you how.

Organization Step 1: Plan your menus.

I organize this step much like I do my weekly meal plans, by protein and lack of protein. So, to create a variety I might choose to create...

5 beef meals
5 chicken meals
5 "other meat" meals
5 vegetarian meals

Now, look over your recipes (or the recipes on this site) and find 5 you would like to make from each category. Choose meals you know your family would like and you can throw 2 or 3 in that are new to try and find new favorites to add to your rotation. Also, make sure to add a few side dishes and desserts.

So my example monthly menu might look like this:

Beef:
Super Simple Meatloaf
Beef Tamale Pie
Shepherd's Pie
Beef Quesadillas
Cheeseburgers

Chicken:
Creamy Italian Chicken
Crisp Chicken Burritos
Thanksgiving Casserole
Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Quesadillas

Other Meats:
Ham & Cheese Stromboli
Pork BBQ
Ham and Potato Casserole
Tuna Casserole
Brinner (Breakfast Dinner)

Vegetarian:
Bean Burritos
Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetarian Taco Soup
Pesto
Veggie Jambalaya

Sides:
Freezy Cheese Straws
Make Ahead Garlic Bread
Cheesy Potatoes

Desserts:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fruit Crisp Topping
Surprise Cake

Organization Step 2: Gathering and Printing Recipes

Now, I know what you're thinking....print every recipe? Just trust me. You do NOT want to be digging through books and keeping pages open while in this process. You will want to take every possible step to make this process as easy as possible from start to finish and organization of information is key.

Organization Step 3: Assessing and Buying Ingredients.
First, print out the following downloadable worksheets to help you plan. You need (1 copy) Menu Plan and (2 copies) of the Grocery List. Download each by clicking the images below.



Grab your printed MENU PLANNER and start by filling out the meals you have planned. Mine would look like this...

With me so far?

Now grab one copy of your GROCERY PLANNER and the recipes you printed. Start with the first recipe listed (for me that would be meatloaf...see the recipe here). With the recipe and the grocery list side by side, start listing the ingredients of the recipe in the correct area of the grocery list. When needed, list each ingredient in an incremental amount. Like 1/2 c. chopped onion. Continue with the remaining ingredients in the meatloaf. I am doubling mine to make two meatloaves. Each meatloaf calls for 1/2 c. chopped onion so next to the 1/2 c. chopped onion I would put two ticks...


Once you have finished, put an x in the box next to meatloaf on your MENU PLANNER under ING to indicate that you have transferred the ingredients for that recipe onto your grocery list.

Now proceed with the remaining recipes. I am going to show examples having completed this process for ONLY the Beef and Chicken categories. My Menu Planner now looks like this...

And my Grocery List planner looks like this...

Next, take a look in your cupboards, freezer and fridge and cross items off of your list that you already have.

Then add the incremental amounts remaining to form total amounts you need to purchase from the store. Now it's time to use your 2nd Grocery List. My ticks next to pounds of ground beef added up to 10 so I am going to write 10 lbs. ground beef on my blank grocery list and continue until all ingredients are itemized and grouped by grocery store section.


Now get out there and GO SHOPPING!

As you may have guessed by my colossal 10 pounds of ground beef needed, this is a great opportunity to go to a price club like Sam's Club or Costco. Sam's Club and Costco also sell large amounts of sandwich ziplocks, gallon size ziplocks and aluminum pans. If you are reluctant to buy 50 aluminum pans either go in with a friend or buy these individually at WalMart or at Dollar Stores.

Don't feel intimidated by this process. It is much easier than it looks and makes your shopping and Freeze-A-Thon experience much less difficult.


Also make sure you have the basic tools needed as found in THIS POST.

Possible Additional Tools: You will be needing and using a lot of mixing bowls and measuring cups and spoons. The good news is, these items are all extremely inexpensive so you can afford multiple sets. I like to have two sets of this WalMart brand plastic mixing bowl set, two sets of plastic measuring spoons and two sets of plastic measuring cups. Trust me, this will make your Freeze-A-Thon much easier and save the time of washing additional dishes between assembly.

Any Questions?

ALL posts in this series..
Freeze-A-Thon Part I - Organization
Freeze-A-Thon Part II - Preparation
Freeze-A-Thon Part III - Execution
Freeze-A-Thon Part IV - Utilizing Your Frozen Foods

5 comments:

Jaime Wilkins March 08, 2010  

I totally want to do this!! Thank you for all the info.

Panda March 08, 2010  

love this site. thanks to your extreme organization, i now have a freezer full of food...bring on baby! i love your methods of planning.

Jewelle March 12, 2010  

Thanks for the info, I think I'm going to try this after all three weeks of your "training" :D

Kay August 25, 2010  

This is just what I need to get organized for the school year. Thanks for all the clear directions and yummy-looking recipes!

Anonymous,  January 23, 2011  

I'm so glad I found your site, thank you for all of this information!! I've been freezing meals occasionally for a few months now but haven't had the guts to do the freeze a thon. With your guidance, I will have a happy February! thank you!

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About This Blog

A new recipe will be posted each Monday and, of course, you can always search the archives by category.

The Goal of this blog is not just to give you my recipes, but to teach you which ingredients freeze well, which don't, methods and tips to help you freeze your own recipes...because who knows better what your family likes than you?

Do you only cook organic? Great! Are you a vegetarian? No problem! Make what works for you and save time, money and (let's be honest...stress) while doing it.

The Freeze Happy philosophy has made my life better and I'm pretty sure it can improve yours too.

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