Jan 032007
 

And this time “almost” really means almost, not half. (I wrote a post about my tendency to leave things “almost finished” only to discover them to be only halfway done later.) The food I’m referring to had been prepared in advance at the end of October. In an attempt to make the holidays more enjoyable and to survive NaNoWriMo intact, I tried doing Mega Menu-Mailer for the first time. I bought one of the Mega Menu-Mailers from Leanne Ely’s website, bought tons of fresh ingredients, chopped them up and assembled everything into freezer bags. Into the freezer everything went and we ate those meals since the beginning of November. There are two more meals left in the freezer, but I feel confident they will be as good as the last 18.

Sweet and sour fish
(the only meal I remembered to take a picture of)

Before I forget it, here are the two single most important things that I learned about the whole thing: spread everything real thin before freezing. If you make nice fat lumps of meat before you put it in the freezer you end up with frozen food that’s still not thawed after 48 hours in the fridge. There was not a single meal that wasn’t cooked partially frozen. So, hear my advice, make flat packages. The second thing, and of minor importance, is: Really measure the ingredients, don’t think, “Oh, this might be half a tablespoon of garlic, who cares.” and end up with most meals being too garlicky and several where you had to hurriedly substitute garlic powder, because you run out of the fresh one.

Before I review the meals (not in detail, no worries) I have to tell that I didn’t do anything right – as always. Everything that had to be grilled was fried. Everything that was supposed to be cooked in a crock pot was done in the pressure cooker. There are neither GladWare containers (whatever that might be) or jarred sauce Alfredo in Germany. And not realizing that there is tinned salmon even in Germany I mistakenly substituted tuna. And a word of caution: Never try to fry anything coated in honey! The honey instantly turns black and burned. Nonetheless the meat tasted good, only the sauce was, um, not fit for human consumption. And: If you decide to do the Crock Pot Pork Jambalaya in the pressure cooker, don’t, and I repeat, don’t put the orange juice mixture in. It was burned totally. The pork had a distinctly smokey taste. Good, but smokey. That time we could replace the sauce, because we had all the necessary ingredients in the house.

We haven’t eaten all of the menus yet, because we did something else in between and because since we are only 2 1/2 persons here, we usually eat two days on any of the meals. Everything tasted good to delicious, apart from that Chicken Pot Pie Lasagna. But I won’t blame Leanne for this, since I made up the aforementioned sauce Alfredo out of a wikipedia entry and had to substitute milk and butter for half of the cream because I hadn’t bought enough. Then we spiced that up with a fight during cooking, lunch served too late, and my husband refusing to eat it because of the fight and the fact that there was milk in it. (No, he isn’t Jewish, this has something to do with Italian cuisine where you never put milk in anything not sweet.) We ate that one for two days and then threw the other half out.

As I said, everything tasted just fine, but all in all it was a little too much meat for us. Especially too much pork, since we don’t like to eat pork. Also I have the dawning suspicion that I should have ordered only half the pork chops and steaks, since they were real big. One time we had the Cashew steak one day, then cut the rest of the meat up and mixed it with peppers and ate it Asian style with rice and the day after we ate it with pasta.

So, for anybody out there wanting to try it, I can recommend it, it made cooking and menu planning much easier. Oh, and the actual cooking took about half an hour per meal. That’s okay with me, and for the second day it took less, because we were only reheating. Since we still have something left, it was totally worth the effort to put it together. I think we’ll be doing it again next year, only maybe we’ll do it at the end of September then and cut up bunches of vegetables with it to make instant vegetarian meals in between. Next time I’ll definitely use my food processor. I feel very stupid for not having thought of it, but I never use it since it is enormous and only good for processing vast amounts. If you’re baking two or three cakes at a time it’s marvelous. If you bake one, the blender only scrapes at the flour. Also, next time I’ll take the time to convert all the measurements beforehand. Fluid ounces to milliliter, pounds to kilogram, and so on. And then I’ll write it on the sheet so that I’ll never have to do it again.

Now I’m back to my old method of menu-planning. On Wednesdays I sit down and try to think of five to six healthy, tasty meals which don’t take much time to prepare, and then we end up eating pasta or frozen pizza for three days of the week. I’ll miss having a whole freezer packed with things I only have to pull out. 24 hours before, which is quite a feat. You end up every meal with a discussion about what to cook the next day. (In our house everything turns into a debate.) But then you already have something ready. And if something happens and you don’t cook it the next day, no problem. Since it was frozen perfectly fresh you can cook it the next day. Especially when it’s still frozen in the middle.

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  10 Responses to “food for eighty people almost eaten”

  1. I think a person has to be a reasonably good cook in his or her own right to make these things work correctly – as you had to make a number of adjustments and substitutions.

    In December I did a smaller version of freezer meals, but we have not liked the recipes at all. I never knew what fussy eaters we were until now! Also, I belong to a mothers’ club that makes meals for you when you have a new baby, and of about 2 1/2 weeks of meals, we only really liked one or two. Picky!

    The next step I’m going to take for simplifying the whole feeding process is to try the grocery delivery service. For a nominal charge, you can order your groceries online and have them delivered to your kitchen. Most of the women I know have been doing this for at least a year & I’ve never heard anything bad about it.

  2. I think a person has to be a reasonably good cook in his or her own right to make these things work correctly – as you had to make a number of adjustments and substitutions.

    In December I did a smaller version of freezer meals, but we have not liked the recipes at all. I never knew what fussy eaters we were until now! Also, I belong to a mothers’ club that makes meals for you when you have a new baby, and of about 2 1/2 weeks of meals, we only really liked one or two. Picky!

    The next step I’m going to take for simplifying the whole feeding process is to try the grocery delivery service. For a nominal charge, you can order your groceries online and have them delivered to your kitchen. Most of the women I know have been doing this for at least a year & I’ve never heard anything bad about it.

  3. Grocery delivery sounds marvelous. I don’t think one has to make any substitutions when you live in the US, own a grill and a crockpot.

    What I really like about http://www.savingdinner.com is that there are lots of free recipes to try out.

  4. Grocery delivery sounds marvelous. I don’t think one has to make any substitutions when you live in the US, own a grill and a crockpot.

    What I really like about http://www.savingdinner.com is that there are lots of free recipes to try out.

  5. I keep meaning to try one of these kinds of things. This has been very encouraging. I like the idea of having a freezer full of dinners.
    Will you do it again?

  6. I keep meaning to try one of these kinds of things. This has been very encouraging. I like the idea of having a freezer full of dinners.
    Will you do it again?

  7. Wow, this is interesting. I’m not sure, it’s for me… (my freezer would be too small anyway). I love to cook. I love to cook everyday. It’s so much part of my day.
    Glad, you found my blog. I’ll be coming back here. 🙂
    GG

  8. Wow, this is interesting. I’m not sure, it’s for me… (my freezer would be too small anyway). I love to cook. I love to cook everyday. It’s so much part of my day.
    Glad, you found my blog. I’ll be coming back here. 🙂
    GG

  9. @meno: Yes, I’ll definitely be doing it again. From what I heard the usual freezer meal establishments have lousy food. But I really can recommend http://www.savingdinner.com (And no, I’m not getting paid.

    @de: I don’t think you are fussy eaters, I think you are just used to food of better quality. I’m not picky anymore, but when I eat at friends’ or relative’s places I almost never like the food. It’s because my husband a much better cook than most of them and we use high quality, often organic, ingredients.

    And if you’re living in the US (and own both a crockpot and a grill) you don’t have to adjust anything. It becomes a little harder when you have to look up half the ingredients in your dictionary.

    @GG: You still have to cook the meals. You just plan ahead and have everthing ready. That’s what the original savingdinner menu-mailers were about. Every week you get a menu plan complete with shopping list and recipes. You still have to buy and cook everything, but you won’t stand there in the evening right before dinner wondering what to cook and then hurry off shopping (or calling for pizza).

  10. @meno: Yes, I’ll definitely be doing it again. From what I heard the usual freezer meal establishments have lousy food. But I really can recommend http://www.savingdinner.com (And no, I’m not getting paid.

    @de: I don’t think you are fussy eaters, I think you are just used to food of better quality. I’m not picky anymore, but when I eat at friends’ or relative’s places I almost never like the food. It’s because my husband a much better cook than most of them and we use high quality, often organic, ingredients.

    And if you’re living in the US (and own both a crockpot and a grill) you don’t have to adjust anything. It becomes a little harder when you have to look up half the ingredients in your dictionary.

    @GG: You still have to cook the meals. You just plan ahead and have everthing ready. That’s what the original savingdinner menu-mailers were about. Every week you get a menu plan complete with shopping list and recipes. You still have to buy and cook everything, but you won’t stand there in the evening right before dinner wondering what to cook and then hurry off shopping (or calling for pizza).

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