I really think the key to happiness is keeping life simple.
Often it is the simplest ideas turn out to be the best ideas. Like this particular time saving and fun idea that one of my friends came up with that is just awesome. I don’t know why moms haven’t been employing this trick for years. Or maybe they have, and I’ve just not been paying attention.
So I’m in a couple different moms groups. Personally, I think these types of groups are essential for stay at home moms. I have my Moms Club, then I have a couple of other groups through Meetup.com that I am also in. Keeps our social calendar full, and it’s almost always with inexpensive or free activities. I have also made some really great friends who are at the same place in life as me, staying at home and raising small children. If I have learned anything through this adventure, it’s the importance of support networks when little people are involved!
It was through one of the meetup groups that I found this so easy, simple, wonderful idea. One of the moms suggested a freezer meal swap. The concept is so simple. We limited it to 8 people. You show up at the designated meeting time with your favorite, freezer friendly meal. Times seven. So you bring seven of the same meal, enough to serve families of 4-6, and the cooking instructions. Each person leaves with 7 different meals, just like a cookie swap.
I mean, duh! Why haven’t we always been doing this?
So, I hit the store today, got all my materials, and set to work. I chose to do an Italian pasta bake. Sometimes I call it Rigatoni if I’m using Rigatoni noodles, but they aren’t mandatory. Finish reading this post, and you’ll get the recipe!
We actually only had 7 people, so I made six to freeze and one for dinner for us tonight. The recipe I use is so simple and easy, it really didn’t take much longer to do six extra ones. I put assembled them and wrapped them up, printed the recipe and taped one on each meal, and stuck them in the freezer. Then I put the seventh one in the oven, and dinner was done!
In addition to being simple, it was inexpensive. Total cost for one full family meal was about $5.00. I spent roughly $35.00, if that much. We had dinner tonight for our family of five, leftovers for my hubs to take for lunch, and I’ll get six more dinners tomorrow at the exchange. Not bad!
I can’t wait to get my meals tomorrow that I can pull out of the freezer on those days that I just don’t feel like cooking.
If you have a group of friends that you think would be willing to do this with you, I highly suggest a freezer meal swap. The other key element is to share what you are bringing so that not everyone will make the same thing. Our meals are pretty varied – chicken and rice casserole, baja chicken for burritos, baked spaghetti, and so forth.
So here is my simple, 6 item recipe.
Italian Pasta Bake
1 Box of Pasta
1 can of mushrooms
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb ground meat (any kind you like)
1 bag of pepperoni (full size or mini)
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
1. Cook pasta and drain.
2. Brown meat and drain.
3. Layer pasta, meat, pepperoni, mushrooms, sauce, and cheese. Repeat.
4. Bake at 350deg for 30 mins or until cheese is melted.
(from frozen, bake at 350 for one hour to 1.5 hours)
And of course, I forgot to take a picture of it after it was cooked, but it was YUMMY! Everyone enjoyed it.
Easy, delish, inexpensive.
What is your favorite go-to quick meal?