Friday, October 26, 2007

Freezer food: meals when you don't want to think

Life's been full of hiking and dancing and climbing lately. It's pesky trying to fit it all around work. And it's even more annoying when it cuts into my cooking time. For the nights when there simply is no time for cooking, I've been exploring other avenues.
One thing that looked really promising was the Mega Menu Mailers from I had bought the Vegetarian MegaMailer for my friend Special K (she had a new, very early, baby boy), but we never ended up cooking it. Now I dug it up and had a second look. I only have two shelves of freezer space, and the mailer makes 20 meals for 4. I decided to pick 10 - 4 serves would mean left overs for lunches.
The plan
First I had to choose my meals. Then I had to cut down the shopping list to the relevant ingredients.
Issue 1. Americans have some weird ingredients - I don't know what vegetarian sausage is, or peach preserves. And I've never seen frozen spinach.
Issue 2. Converting from imperial to metric is a major pain.
That took about an hour.
The Shop
It came to around $100, which isn't too bad for 10 dinners and 10 lunches. I did a lot of traipsing back and forth, looking for things I don't normally buy.
Issue 3. Processed soy products (like veggie patties and soy sausages) are not cheap!
Issue 4. I'm totally confused about ounces and liquid ounces, and shouldn't try to guess what those quantities could be in grams. The chop
Ryan left me on Saturday morning to prep all the ingredients. It took about 2 hours - a lot longer than I thought.
Issue 5. Chopping around 6 cups of onion is not fun.
This was probably the easiest bit. The instructions were very clear, and there was no cooking involved.
Issue 6. Having to eat all the icecream to make room in the freezer.
The result
I ended up with:
Teriyaki Broccoli Mushrooms
Crock Bean and Veggie Soup
Veggie Italian Casserole *
Dijon Rosemary Patties *
Green Chili and Cheese frittata
Roast Vegetables and Beans
Veggie lasagna *
Barbecue Confetti Pasta *
Cashew Tempeh
Baked Dill Tofu on Rice

We've tried the ones with stars so far. They were pretty good! Especially the lasagna. I'll probably tweak them a bit in the future, but they are all great meals at the end of a long day.

I don't think I'll ever go completely 'Once a Month', but this has been a great fall back. And Saving Dinner was a great starting point - even if they do have weird ingredients.


Nicole said...

I must say that I'm a little jealous that you've never seen frozen spinach before. For many in the States, I think the opposite is true: they've probably never seen fresh spinach.

No, really.

kazari_lu said...

I'm intrigued. It often seems that our cultures are so similar, but there's so many things we DON'T share.
thanks for your comment

Anonymous said...

good blog.
regarding trying to convert measurements, google has a built-in calculator. just type in, for example, 6 oz in grams,(or you can write out ounces) and the answer will appear.

calculator, currency converter, weights and measures, etc.

i had to laugh at the "weird ingredients". frozen spinach? ha!

coleen in pittsburgh, pennsylvania

Briget said...

Frozen spinach is available in Aldi and homebrand versions in Woolies/Safeway and Coles. I think peach preserves could be another way of saying peach jam???

HTH Cheers, Briget (SS)

kazari_lu said...

I never thought to check at ALDI - couldn't find any at Coles or Woolies.
Thanks for your comments. You too Colleen - I did use google to convert... it just took a very long time.
(I'm a bit mathematically challenged)

Angela said...

Hi there,

Enjoyed reading your post. I love to cook and I am also trying the mega menu mailers from saving dinner. Peach preserves (or any kind of preserves) are basically a fruit jam with large pieces of "preserved" fruit in it. So in the case of peaches it's like peach jam or jelly with some larger pieces of fruit in it. VERY yummy (though not clarified/clear like a jelly).

Happy cooking!