Organization,  Thoughts

Prepping for Fall 2020: First Steps (Freezer Cooking Plan)

I shared my thoughts (or, anxiety: let’s just call it what it is) about Fall 2020 in this post last week.

And then I immediately set to work in the small windows of time I had available to me to start hammering away on a plan.

As you know, life with little kids often means plans go to hell in a hand-basket rather quickly but I managed to squeak out the first steps of getting ready for a massive round of freezer cooking and meal prep.

First I got online and cashed in some credit card points for gift cards to purchase groceries and other supplies needed to do this thing.

Again, it’s not in our budget to just go out and buy a months worth of ‘stuff’ along with all our other monthly necessities. None of it will go to waste tho and we should see the impact of these efforts on our budget down the road…which may be an added bonus pending how the Fall goes down and what happens with the economy.

Then I took to unloading everything out of the freezers doing an inventory and putting everything back in an organized fashion. We have three freezers: two attached to refrigerators and one large chest freezer. It seems excessive until you launch into a plan like this and then every square inch becomes essential.

And I did the same with our downstairs storage space that doubles as a pantry.

After I had a good idea of the food we had on hand, I made a list of the meals I want to get in the freezer.

I ended up with 34 dinner meals on the list (there were more I could have added but I needed to stop somewhere), plus ideas for lunch and breakfast.

For this first round of cooking, however, I’m going to focus on 22 unique dinner dishes with a couple that I’ll double up, leaving us with 24 complete dinners in the freezer (or all the ingredients on the shelf in the pantry). This will include side dish items that I won’t hope I can later pick up (i.e. breads, canned/frozen fruits and veggies, etc.)…and I’ll always be on the lookout for fresh ingredients when available. Frozen and canned just ensures we have something if fresh isn’t an option…for whatever reason.

I also intend to make large batches of some side dishes that include rice and potatoes because those freeze well also and it’s a simple time savings (because obviously uncooked rice won’t go bad on my shelf).

My goal is to have complete meals rip-roarin’-ready-to-go!

With my list of meals in hand, I determined what grocery items would be needed (this included storage items like freezer bags, foil, disposable pans, etc.).

Wowzers that list was LONG!!! I was able to scale it back a bit by looking to my “on-hand inventory”.

Finally, I sketched a day-by-day schedule/cooking plan that I hope will help ensure that the freshest ingredients are getting used up first (before their quality dwindles or they go bad all together).

I figure it’s going to take a week to complete this first round…but it’s a sizeable chunk of the overall plan. I actually “planned” six days worth of action items determining I may need the seventh for some wiggle room. There are a few things on my list that I already have everything on hand to pull together so I will try to get those hammered out before I’m up to my elbows in grocery bags and my kitchen becomes a war-zone!

Next Steps:

Grocery and supplies shopping.
Barf, I loathe the grocery store and use every opportunity for curb-side pick up BUT I don’t have time to mess around with items being out of stock and/or substitutions that won’t really work for what I need….so being in the store will allow me opportunity to problem solve and ensure I get home with everything I need. *fingers crossed*

Finding a week that it makes the most sense to kick this thing off.
Maybe not ironically, when I looked at my planner to determine when I was going to take a full run at this thing I struggled to find a week in the very near future that was wide open. I KNOW how much work this is going to be (even with a well thought out plan). I KNOW that juggling this alongside the usual family ‘stuff’ is going to be tricky without any additional appointments or things on our schedule. I KNOW I’m going to have to dig deep to bring it all together.

I also KNOW that I have to get this done before my garden gets going and I’m in full-on canning mode!!

And I KNOW it’s all going to be worth it when I can better set my mind at ease about sliding in to Fall because I was intentional and planned/prepped.

Who else is giving thought to, or maybe already in the action steps, prepping for what could be a struggled Fall?

If you have some unique ideas to share, drop them in the comments.

Or if you’re just along on this adventure with me and have questions – I’m all ears, too!

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Photo Credit: Photo by Dev Benjamin on Unsplash

2 Comments

  • Lisa A

    I certainly have some unexpected TIME to work on this, but I don’t have the SPACE! We have a fairly large upright freezer, a small chest freezer and the freezer attached to my fridge, and all are bursting right now because of the purchase of beef from a regional farmer. I’d love to be able to have meals ready to go, and I’m going to follow your progress and tuck away some tips and recipes for when I have more space to accommodate them.

    • Hilary Doyle

      Having a freezer full of meat is awesome, though! As you have space, consider freezer meals that can store (freeze) in a zip-top bag. If laid flat to freeze (and store) they take up far less room than foil pans!

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