Some friends and I got together this past weekend so we could fill our freezers. We all voted on some easy freezer meals and this is what we made: Freezer-Friendly Brown Bag Burritos, Salsa Chicken, Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches, Honey-Sesame Pork Tenderloin, and Shrimp Pesto. It’s only been two days, and since then I’ve only used these meals for dinner-I know they won’t last long. To see how I adjusted these recipes to work for the group, and more freezer-friendly meals, please visit my Cooking Club page.
We always start by organizing different stations for each recipe. We all bring different ingredients to share with the group, then sort them by recipe. I also like to simplify the recipe and put it in a page protector to prevent any spills from making it hard to read.
We’ve met three times and each time it works out that everyone brings about $20 of groceries plus their own meat, and we walk away with 5-6 entrees, that may even provide up to 8 meals if there are enough leftovers. With meat, my total bill runs about $40.
Since the pork tenderloin would take the longest, we started with that. It required browning the meat on the stovetop, then roasting in the oven. We were able to move on to another dish while the pork was in the oven.
When it comes to cooking club, it’s anything goes. Everyone brings their own meat, so you can bring whatever your family prefers-organic, a different cut, etc. One member used pork chops instead of a whole tenderloin and I think I will do that next time-more surface area to cover with sesame seeds!
Below is my finished pork tenderloin. It turned out that it needed some extra cooking time. Instead of the 20 minutes in the oven the recipe called for, mine was still not done after 40 minutes. I ended up slicing it and placing the slices back on the baking sheet for 5 more minutes. This is another reason I would do pork chops next time. I loved the flavor though!
The burritos were also a little labor intensive, but much more fun when you are with friends. After the ground meat browns and the filling simmers for 20 minutes (time to work on one of the quick ones), it requires about 5 or 10 minutes of rolling the burritos up. I would much rather do this sitting around a table with friends, than standing by myself at the kitchen counter rushing through it because we are all hungry.
I’ve also already cooked some of the burritos. Below is my finished product.
Again, this took extra time in the oven and needed to be microwaved to warm it up more. I would definitely make these again and just allow more time in the oven. I think an extra 15 minutes would be adequate. I love the concept of these-since they are individually wrapped in foil, you can take them out of the freezer and place the desired amount directly into the oven. This make-ahead-meal will actually work out to be 3 meals for us. Having these pre-wrapped in foil also makes these perfect for on-the-go meals. I’m trying to think of all of the different fillings I can make for these convenient burritos.
I always try to have a few recipes that require some cooking, and a couple that are simply dumping food into a freezer bag to put in a crockpot later. There are definitely benefits to doing some of each. The recipes that require cooking save the most time on the evening we choose to serve it. And although the no-cooking-ahead freezer bags of food don’t save much time later, it is nice to know that all of the ingredients are together, you know that you won’t be having to run out to the store because something is missing. It’s also easy to put these together when we have a few spare minutes, while waiting for something that’s simmering or in the oven. Below we are putting together the Salsa Chicken. The Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches are also a no-cooking-ahead recipe.
Thanks to Kat, Mom on the Go in Holy Toledo, for taking photos of the evening! I always end up forgetting the camera, put at least we had all of our ingredients!