i love freezer meals. for reals.
here is my you should host a freezer meal party post. i hope it hits the spot. after posting about making freezer meals for my family, i've (shockingly) had requests on discussing it further. wow. i'm a bit relieved we're all in this cooking rut together! i must admit i feel very inadequate writing this post since you could easily go google freezer meals and get dozens of ideas at your fingertips, but alas you've asked for my assistance and i love giving in to what readers really want. so this is my advice on the subject: you should combine forces with a friend. (it's especially awesome when the friend makes the first move!)
last month my friend kj emailed me with an invitation to come cook freezer meals together. of course, of course! i couldn't reply quick enough. i think it was one of those late night email sessions where you are so glad you're not the only one up into the wee hours. (kj was my first friend here and i seriously don't know what i'd do without her endless good ideas, local tips and thoughtful invitations. everyone needs a friend like her.)
she, another darling friend ashlynn, and i came together one saturday morning, armed with our aluminum pans, ingredients and recipes to share. we each chose one main meal and tripled the recipes (for our grocery lists) and bought enough for a batch for everyone. i loved the fun of trying new meals; one minestrone soup (mmm..mmm.) and the other veggie calzones (more, please..). both of which i would have never attempted on my own! i went with my sister-in-law's recipe of chicken enchiladas. they are a family favorite and i like playing it safe. i like the challenge to make something extra scrumptious so you can hardly wait to dig into the freezer to see what is waiting!
with most of the meals–since we have small families–we got even more dinners out of it (two more calzones are still in my freezer)! for example, you can easily split up a 9x13 recipe into two square pans and get two meals out of it. they also brought along frozen cookie dough logs (ashlynn's uh-mazing cinnamoney oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough. isn't it bliss tasting new versions of an old favorite?!) and other sweets for freezing (you must try kj's divine coconut joys someday)!
kj was a pro at playing hostess for this kitchen-sharing gig. her house was spotless, the kids were off playing with their daddy, her kitchen was clean and accessible with plenty of space for the three of us to do our thing in an efficient manner. she had a basket of fresh hand towels at the ready, plenty of spices, bowls and whisks too. she also had extra disposable pans, foil, markers and saran wrap. it's also a delight to toy around in someone else's kitchen and enjoy their handy gadgets. (she had to teach me how to use her can opener. it opens cans without a sharp edge! love that.) kj had a small table of drinks and appetizers read for us too. i still feel badly about leaving her with a mighty mess, i'll have to host next time to repay her.
we did the bulk of the prep at our own stations and then we'd come together to put our own portions togther. it was like a mini hands-on lesson, which will be helpful when i attempt the recipes on my own. we managed to do the extra necessary steps ahead of time, so we weren't all at one stove or all needing to use the oven simultaneously. kj had all her veggies cut up and ready for the soup. i cooked and shredded the chicken and grated the cheese for the enchiladas the night before (okay, actually dan did it, come to think of it) and i softened the cream cheese the morning of. when i got to the party, all i had to do was stir up the mixture and teach how to assemble the enchiladas, hold a darling little baby girl, help stir the soup and learn about calzone making (easier than i'd imagined)!
the party was seamless; great company, delicious food, lots of chit chat (i'm totally convinced i need to go on a disney cruise someday...), and the best freezable party favors ever - meals for the whole family! i saved on our grocery bill too, not to mention the happy husband and less-frazzled-wife bit. with so many hands, the process of assembling meals was speedy; we were done by noon and i had plenty of time to shop for stocking stuffers while dan and benji played the day away.
Sarah's Simple Chicken Enchiladas
12 flour tortillas (medium size)
6 chicken breasts
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vinegar
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Boil chicken breasts with seasonings of your choice (onions, bay leaf, celery salt, etc.). Cool & shred.
Mix chicken in a bowl with softened cream cheese and sour cream. You may want to add some chicken broth to moisten your filling. You can get creative and add black beans and/or green chiles to the mixture as well.
Fill tortillas with chicken & cheese mixture. Roll and line them up in a greased 9x13 inch pan. *In a small bowl, stir vinegar into cream and pour over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over casserole and cover with tinfoil. Bake at 350 for 30–45 minutes.
*If you plan on freezing this pan of enchiladas, skip the vinegar and cream for now and sprinkle the cheese on top of enchiladas directly, cover tightly and freeze. When you're ready to eat them, simply thaw in the fridge, add the cream and vinegar and bake as usual. Enjoy!
tips to consider
think over your budget and prices of ingredients before choosing a freezer meal
be mindful of how intensive your meal prep is, don't choose anything too crazy
check with your guests for any allergies that everyone should be aware of
be open to new recipes and fun new flavors, your family may discover a new fave
clear off plenty of space for counter-sharing & bring any must-have kitchen tools along
more freezer meal prep tips here / be sure to read the comments for freezer friendly ideas
ever had a meal exchange party? i'd love to hear your ideas.
p.s. the cookie dough log pictured is from a recipe on hilary's blog, the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. the recipe calls for all brown sugar (instead of white), which gives these cookies an incredible flavor.