The Homemade Freezer Meals Marathon
Let’s just say that my mother isn’t keen on cooking. The woman would be happy with crackers for supper.
Learning to Cook
This is how I was forced into learning how to cook. I couldn’t handle one more unsatisfying freezer linguine with cream sauce. At the time, I was dating a young Lebanese man who’s family would feed me hummus, fattoush salad, lemon chicken, kebbeh and all manner of deliciousness. I once asked his father his guacamole recipe and he looked at me like I was nuts. A recipe for guacamole?
A Year in Italy
This slow discovery of the food world, coupled with a year in Italy, where the grocery store tortellini is often better than gourmet versions in any other country, kickstarted my obsession with trying new foods and learning to cook them myself.
A Labour of Love
I found that the best gift I can give my mum is a home-cooked meal. Throughout university, I would leave dishes on the counter with “eat me” scribbled next to them to make sure that she ate some veggies.
One year, the day I was flying to London, I cooked like a maniac (while frantically packing) and somehow managed to fill the freezer with all kinds of hearty sauces and one-pot wonders.
She still brags to her friends.
A Silly Offer
During the past few weeks, where I was visiting family, I suggested that maybe I could attempt this feat again. (I was feeling generous after a couple glasses of heady American Cabernet).
Once the words came out of my mouth, my mum was immediately scrolling through Tupperware possibilities on Amazon. Throughout the next couple weeks of my time there, the stacks of rather large Tupperware sat ominously on the counter…
I’m an all or nothing kind of girl (see picture at bottom). This helps me in some parts of my life; generally, I end up shooting myself in the foot.
There’s No Combo Like Deadline and a Stubborn Girl
The day before I was to leave, I started cooking at 9 am. No one was allowed to talk to me. I was in what athletes call “the zone.” There was just me, loud music, a knife, a wooden spoon, and a refrigerator of ingredients. I morphed into a cooking machine. I was so busy tending to my boiling pots of deliciousness that I didn’t even eat lunch!
Thankfully, or perhaps detrimentally, their house has 3 ovens and an enormous gas range. I had everything on. It was hot in there!
The first day, I managed to get through half my self-imposed menu. I couldn’t sleep that night; I was buzzing with possibilities. Furiously scribbling at 4 in the morning, I made a list of all the meals I wanted to create out of the ingredients in the fridge. I had just the morning before I stepped onto the plane back to Provence. It was getting serious.
In the end, I managed to complete 10 out of the 12 meals that I aimed for, while somehow managing to take a few photos.
Here’s my marathon Tupperware meals list:
- Ratatouille with Spicy Italian Sausage
- Parsnip and Parsley Soup
- American-Style Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Butternut Squash and Cumin Soup
- Moroccan-Style Leek and Prune Beef Stew
- Beouf Bourguignon
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Puttanesca Pasta Sauce
- Homemade Pesto with Extra Greens
- Chinese Noodles with Broccoli, Sugar Snap Peas and Chicken
- Chicken Fricassée with Yellow Courgette and Dill
I didn’t have time for:
- Beet and Orange Soup (I got as far as roasting the beets but the blender broke!)
- Yellow Thai Fish Curry
I don’t think I did too badly. Keep in mind that each of these meals were good for at least 4 servings.
If you’re ever crazy enough to attempt to do this for someone, here are some tips from me:
1 – Set yourself realistic goals (I’m working on it…)
Choose 5 dishes instead of 13 and make sure you have enough time to actually enjoy the process.
2 – Get a head start by roasting all of your veggies (maybe even the night before)
This cuts down on chopping time and greatly augments deliciousness. I even roasted all of the garlic. The tomatoes were roasted and skinned for the sauces, rendering down to their sweet tomatoes essence, in addition to adding canned tomatoes. I also used roasted and skinned a lot of red and yellow peppers. It’s odd because I often skip this step in my own kitchen but I think because I had to plan and was cooking in such quantities, it was almost easier to do things properly.
3 – Enlist help with veg chopping + pot washing
I’m not sure if this helped me time-wise or not because I ended up having to show my helper how to chop- but never mind…
4 – Brown all your meat
This again increases flavour. Don’t worry about flouring the meat. Quite frankly, it never seems to work for me and if you have to thicken the sauce at any point the best is always to reduce it down.
4 – Cook dishes that you’re comfortable with
All these dishes I’ve made many times before so I didn’t have to worry about the outcome or process. You don’t want to have your nose in a recipe book, not to mention the added stress, when your boeuf bourguignon bubbles over.
5 – Listen to some good music and have fun!!
This is also something you can do for yourself on a rainy Sunday.
Sometimes it’s such a relief to come home to a tasty, healthy meal that needs only reheating. This way, you know what’s gone into the food and can cater it to your taste buds. In my case- barrel fulls of flavour!