Growing up, we always had a large freezer in addition to the freezer on the refrigerator (and truth be told, for as long as I can remember we had two of those) so we usually had plenty of frozen food because we had plenty of freezer space. Most of that was pre-packaged convenience food from Schwans or Costco which suited us just fine as kids, especially during school breaks. However, now that I am an adult I am starting to be a little more concerned about what I am eating. Thanks to all kinds of Internet influence, I have started to think the intersection of slow cooking and freezer cooking is the perfect solution for us.
Our freezer on our fridge isn't huge, but it has done okay for keeping meat and a few other things, but it's just not big enough for me to be doing freezer cooking regularly. Especially now that I'm starting to do more making my own components like stock and we will be freezing more veggies over the summer, it was time to get some more freezer space. We got a nice 5.0 cubic foot freezer from Lowes and it fits perfectly on the back deck tucked behind the little bar.
I have made a promise to myself - nothing pre-packaged "convenience food" goes in the new freezer. The goal is to use up what we have and then make home-made versions for the replacements so that eventually we have very little processed food but lots of things that are still super-convenient. I started with a couple of pinterest ideas - freezing yogurt into bite sized snacks. Instead of doing "dots" I put them into a little heart shaped ice tray so I have some nice warm-weather snacks. I also tried the idea of freezing wine into ice cube trays and it didn't go as well as I had hoped. Oh well, live and learn!
Last night we went to Sam's and stocked up on meat. We got one large roast that we were able to split, 4 sirloins, 6 lbs of chicken, 2 pork tenderloins, and 3 lbs of bacon. As easy as it was to boil and shred the chicken breasts last time, Jeff requested some grilled chicken to use on salads and I can still use that in casseroles, so I'll be firing up the grill today. I'm also going to pre-cook some of the bacon for whatever we may decide we need it for.
In case you haven't seen it yet, the e-cookbook "From Your Freezer To Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes" by Stephanie Cornais of Mama and Baby Love is a fabulous resource for tasty and healthy freezer meals for the slow cooker. I've already got my copy of the cookbook and I'm so excited about trying some of them! Stephanie is now topping my list of amazing women I hope I'm lucky enough to meet "for real" someday.
The one tweak I'm planning to make to her freezer meals is (for the ones that require broth), since my broth is already frozen into cubes, put the correct number of cubes into the bag with everything else so I don't have to worry about adding that on cooking morning.
I'm not a "real food rock star" like Stephanie, but I am making an effort to make more things so I can eliminate at least a portion of the preservatives and sodium and other stuff that goes into all that handy-dandy stuff. I will probably never stop using stuff like canned tomatoes or mango chutney, but I figure one packaged component in an otherwise "fresh and real" meal is a great improvement.