5pm: I know exactly what's for dinner

5:00 p.m., any day of the week, anytown, USA: "What are we going to have for dinner?"

That's the question that rings 'round the country. In my house too, I admit.

But not lately.

Because I finally found a system that works really well for our family and our "season" of life.

At this very moment, I have 8 dinners in my freezer. I can't tell you how good that feels.

Basically, I take a Saturday and cook/prep for a few hours, while my husband entertains the girls (my 2-year-old usually "helps" me by pouring and stirring and tasting...). I label everything, stick it in the freezer, and then just pull things out to defrost when I'm ready. My feet hurt at the end of the cooking day and I'm a wee bit exhausted, but it is TOTALLY WORTH IT. My husband 100% agrees. It's like going to one of those meal-assembly shops, but I don't have to leave my house.

Now, if 5:00 p.m. rolls around and you come by my house, you'll smell lasagna or enchiladas or tequila-lime chicken or steak skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce. Actually, if you knock at 5:00 p.m., you'll likely catch me right in the middle of the 30-day shred (I just jumped to Level 3 today...no comment except that I'm dreading the next eight days). THEN, you'll notice the smell of something succulent wafting through the air.

I've taken all my recipes so far from "FIX, FREEZE, FEAST" by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik {Storey Publishing, 2007}. The book features more than 125 make-ahead recipes in 6 categories:

  • Chicken Main Dishes
  • Beef Main Dishes
  • Pork Main Dishes
  • Meatless Mains, Sides, and Soups
  • Sauces, Marinades, and Flavored Butters
  • Breakfast, Snacks, and Sweets

The book gives clear, easy-to-follow instructions for how to best prep, store, and serve your recipes - and the appendix even includes labels that you can copy, print out, and tape to your meals (I LOVE that feature). My only "critique" is that the cookbook doesn't have pictures, but - in this case - I actually don't mind much because the instructions are extremely straightforward and the descriptions are vivid.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever tried the "make-ahead" way of cooking?

WIN IT! One winner will receive a copy of "FIX, FREEZE, FEAST" by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik ($14.95). To enter, leave any topic-related comment on this post prior to Tuesday, August 4th at midnight (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner is #120 Julie. Congratulations!

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185 comments on “5pm: I know exactly what's for dinner”

  1. I try to double a recipe just about every time I cook just to freeze that extra dish which is great for when I don't feel like cooking. I rotate dishes every 3-4 weeks.

  2. I just finished during some freezing but I would love to know how to get better at this. My garden is getting crazy!

    kylie8cake(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. this sounds really great especially for busy moms or if an unexpected event arises you are pretty well prepared for meals.like for me this week my mother in law has been in the hospital and we have been running back and forth and too exhausted to cook

  4. sort of! I like to cook extra and then package the extra up and throw it in the freezer for quickie meals on busy days.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. I have been wanting to do this for a long time.I will be homeschooling next year,so I feel like this would be great for my family.Thanks!

  6. It sounds like a great book. Being able to store and reheat something healthy and homemade is both quicker and cheaper than going out to area restaurants...especially now that things are getting more expensive.

    I also have a friend with a lot of health problems, so anything that helps me set aside and properly store a portion to bring over to her is terrific.

  7. I make double batches of meals & freeze the extra. Meatballs, Vegetable Soup, Chili, Stuffed Peppers, etc. I like knowing I have quick "go-to" meals stored away in case I'm short on time. I would like to win this book so I can expand my choices of meals to make ahead.

  8. I sure could use this. I RV most of the summer and try to cook, bake and freeze portions to travel with. I could use some new thoughts on recipes.

  9. I have always wanted to have meals ready to go in the freezer to simplify meals at my house. I would love to have this recipe book.

  10. I personally have never tried making food ahead. My mom does it with big batches of chili and soup in the winter and it always tastes delicious!

  11. As a nurse, I work three 12-hour (actually more like 14-hour) shifts per week. When I come home, it's already past dinner time. So I cook and freeze a lot. There are no pots and pans to wash or cooking mess to clean up. Works out pretty good.

  12. I like recipes for large numbers of servings because I have a large family and always have to double or triple recipes.

  13. At most I've tried to make enough to have leftovers for the next night, but then my husband eats more than usual, so that hasn't worked.
    dearandrea
    at sbcglobal.net

  14. No, Mr. Bachelor over here pretty much lives off frozen food. It's unhealthy, expensive, and I'm just plain getting sick of it, so this book would be great!

  15. I have never actually done it, but I've heard of it and am very interested. I've even gone to a few websites before to check it out. I have several health problems and recently had two biopsies so I should give this a try so my hubby isn't feeding my kids fast food during my recuperation! Thanks so much!

  16. I am attempting to try this a little at a time. Recently, I just did a hamburg marathon, cooking taco meat, sloppy joes/hot dog sauce, and just seasoned meat. Then I froze it after cooling. So far it has cut my cooking time down. thanks for the contest!

  17. I cooked up and froze 21 meals before my son was born. I just doubled casseroles, chili, etc. It was so handy because my son ended up having to stay two weeks in the hospital and I had to have an emergency c-section. I would love more tips and recipes.

  18. This is another of those things that I do for awhile and then get sidetracked. I like to cook on Sunday and make enough extra to put together at least three different meals for the week. Problem is I have a shortage of good recipes that keep or freeze well.

  19. I hate trying to come up with something for dinner every night. We always end up with one of the same 5 things that we rotate through, so it's not like there's a big decision, but still. I'd really love to try something new.

  20. the only thing I've made ahead is breakfast burritos for my hubby's breakfast each morning. :D would love to make things easier for dinner too, though

  21. This would be great for me! I've tried several of the retailers where you go in and prepare meals in bulk for freezing, heating and eating later, but their schedules don't work well with mine. It would be great to have the instructions for things that freeze and reheat well to make from my own home. I don't enjoy cooking very much, but if you can knock out several meals at once it isn't so bad.

  22. Right now it's 4:39 and my son asked what's for dinner. I admit I don't know what to make! I run out of ideas. I have twin sons who are 18 and a daughter who is 20 and a husband too. They like homemade foods. I don't really make ahead of meals. This would be a lot smarter to do than to be stumped at this time of the day! I'm starting to feel good about it already! Thanks!!

  23. The only thing I've ever made ahead were containers of lasagna and it worked well so I'd love to try more. Thank you!

  24. I have never tried that method, but I bet it would save me a ton of time. I am gonna try it more often.

    jason(at)allworldautomotive(dot)com

  25. a great idea! every weekend we have people show up without warning,sometimes a few, sometimes a bunch. they are always welcome but it can make meal planning hectic.

  26. Funny enough, I used to work at Dream Dinners which was the original company that started doing the freezer meal concept. I started there when they only had 1 location and had to quit when I had my 3rd child (belly got too big to reach across the counters to refill things, lol). I've sort of tried doing it on my own, but lack the ideas, lol. I'd love to have the book though, and try again!

  27. I used to do once a month cooking and it worked out quite well for me. Haven't done it for awhile though. I really should start doing it again when I have free time on the weekend. Maybe then we wouldn't be so tempted to eat out. That looks like a great book to have.

  28. I used to try to do it all in one day and following someone elses plan and quite frankly there was a lot my family didn't care for and I had like 4 of each meal made. Not the money saver I had hoped for.
    Now, I adjust things to our taste and don't kill myself making it all in one day- I find that just working with one main idea say chicken I can do several different meals and recipes without getting so worn out we have to get takeout. ;)
    I absolutely love having dinner made up ahead though and am always looking for new recipes.

  29. I've made a few freezer meals in the past, but I really need to start to get serious about making them more, I think. Now that I have a little one it's been super hard to get dinner on the table, between his fussiness, feedings, and my hubby getting home late in the evening. Thanks!

  30. I agree, I like pictures with recipe books. But, as with you, for certain books, I can live without them. I've already gone to their website and saved a couple of their sample recipes! We're vegetarian, but we're going to offer our son meat, as we think he needs it for healthy growing and we agree that he should make the choice to be vegetarian or not. Would love this book to help me prepare some dinners for him. I'm sooooooo unaware of meat preparation. Guess I'll learn soon enough! Thanks for a great review. I expect I'll get this book regardless of whether I win it. Oh, and yes, we make and freeze recipes. I love to double a dish when I'm making it and eat half that night, then freeze the other half for a later date. Makes life much easier.

  31. Chopping and food prep. are so relaxing and worshipful for me, so taking a few hours each weekend to create meals for the week sounds perfect for our family. Would love a copy of this book.

  32. I have not tried the make ahead method of cooking because I lack kitchen organizational skills. Maybe this book will help me in that area? Maybe pigs will fly?

  33. I love the meatless section in here. I am a vegetarian, so that section is great. My boyfriend could use the rest of the book to make some delicious recipes for him.

  34. The closest thing to "make-ahead" for me has been Everyday Food's Grocery Bag menu, where part of the meals are cooked a day ahead (like the meat) and shared between meals. I want to do more. I'm going to try to do some slow cooker meals. I thought about going to those make-ahead meal places and making several before I had my babies, but was put on bed rest instead. I would love a recipe book to to this at home. Thanks!

  35. The only make-ahead I do is a result of things that come from the garden. I make homemade pesto sauces, pureed zucchini (for bread and sauces later) frozen strawberries for smoothies & Shortcakes, etc. Im terrible and actually preparing meals for the future because my freezers are both always SO FULL that Im afraid I'd run out of room too fast! I love the idea though and that book looks fabulous.

  36. I tried this before my babies were born, so that meals would be easy in the first weeks they were home. I had a hard time coming up with different things to make, so I ended up with a lot of lasagna. I would love to do this more often now, but don't know where to start.

  37. I did this a few years ago when the kids were still in early elementary school, and we were remodeling a home. Worked out well, but the recipes were a little lacking in flavour! Would love to try this again, now that I am back to working full time and the kids are in so many activities! I just have not had time to search out some good recipes to try!

  38. I've never done this cooking ahead thing, but it makes so much sense. Prepare several meals on your day off & you will know exactly what you are having on a busy day that you don't have time to cook.

  39. I have never frozen food before serving it but I love the idea. I just got married and I'm learning how to cook little by little. I only have a few recipes in my repertoire and I'm' really trying to get a little more varied. I would love to win this cookbook to help me with that.

  40. I generally remember to defrost for the family the night before. But when I don't, it's really a problem. It certainly is a good idea to cook and then freeze, so prepared food is on hand. I'd love to see the book for ideas about Cooking and freezing.

    bgcchs(at)yahoo.com

  41. I have frozen a couple of extra meals, but I want to do a full day one.. I would love to do a group party where we all fix a bunch of meals.

  42. I would love to have this book so I can learn more about this. I usually cut up onions and bell peppers ahead and freeze in a baggie and it helps a lot- saves time.

  43. I premake some things, for example lasagna. I make a huge thing when I make lasagna and I freeze half for later on and I cook the ohter half. But that is pretty much the extent of it. I would really like new ideas for freezer friendly cooking.

  44. I love to make things ahead and keep it on hand for when I need it. I love to brown hamburger and spices to keep on hand as taco meat, and it's convenient to marinate steaks in ziploc bags so it's an easy meal to pop them on the grill when guests drop by.

  45. I am really disorganized when it comes to cooking. I rarely can plan my meals out far enough in advance that I don't have to go to the grocery store every evening before cooking dinner. I would love to be organized enough to cook dinners one evening and have them all set to go during the week. It would save me time and money.

  46. I have on occassion cooked double and froze it for the future. It is really handy if you have to have surgery or have a baby and will be occupied for awhile. My husband is great with Hamburger Helper and boxed mac and cheese. I still can't face a Hamburger Helper meal.

  47. I like to cook soups in the winter and freeze them for later on. They tend to freeze really well and they are nice to have when everyone's not eating dinner together and you just need single serving entrees.

  48. Have meals in the freezer at this moment. Do so, so that we can run in, heat something, eat and move to the next item.

  49. The only time I really freeze items is if its leftovers and I freeze some of the ingredients like left over roast chicken to use in a later recipe. But that's really the extent of it for me.

  50. I love to have meals in the freezer ready to go! It is such a time saver. I can spend one afternoon and get a freezer full of meals. I do like to do fairly simple "dump recipes" I've never heard of this cookbook...looks like it would be a good one.

  51. I think it is such a great idea to have pre-made meals in the freezer, but I can't seem to do it for some reason!? We buy a lot of meats at Costco and freeze that, which is fabulous, but I always wonder how well a meal will freeze. Will it get runny when it thaws? How long to you thaw it out? Do you cook it first then freeze it? So many silly questions...I should just take the few minutes it takes to look this stuff up online. Sure would make life, and dinner time MUCH easier!

  52. I've attempted the make it ahead cooking, specifically the weight watchers 0 points soup, but other than that I haven't known any recipes that are good for baking ahead so I haven't managed to do it. I would love to win this cook book because if I could be half as organized as you I would be so excited!

  53. I often batch cook. Not only dishes, but rice, grains (buckwheat, wheat berries, barley and such), dried beans (I usually have cooked and ready to go), stocks, and meats (chicken and beef roast, mostly). When I want a quick soup I just pull out packages of frozen stuff, saute onion, garlic, carrots, celery, root vegies and within a short time soup is served. I keep cut up cornbread and formed but uncooked biscuits in the freezer, too.

  54. Good for you for being so organized! When I cook I usually eat half, then freeze half. This sounds like a fantastic book.

  55. Having a variety of home-prepared foods ready to go is a great convenience. I'd like to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

  56. Sure could use a book like this. I am always trying to figure out dinner at the last minute. Maybe this book can help me plan ahead better!

  57. My sister-in-law does this - and actually, for a friend's baby shower (second baby) a group of got together and made her a bunch of meals so she wouldn't have to worry about that once the baby came for a little while.

  58. I love it! What a great idea. Now I'm going to look for a book called, "Stay One Grade Smarter Than Your Child: How To Do Homework" and "Get the Dishes to Do Themselves"...two other 5:00 p.m. activities at our house... ;)

  59. I love these kind of meals, but haven't found any that are really great. I'm definitely going to try this cookbook. It would save me so much time!

  60. I have been trying to figure out something to get our meal time more organized, less chaotic and last minute - I think this might just be the thing. Since I'm in the same "season" of life as you are I think you understand exactly what I'm dealing with - an almost 2 year old who loves to "help" and a six week old who always wakes up at the most inopportune moment :) I'm loving this season though! I've got a coupon for Borders... think I'll go see if they have that book in-store!

  61. I have never been that organized to do the make ahead and freeze meals but I would definitely like to try it.

  62. This would be terrific! I'm recently widowed and not accustomed to cooking for one, but this would give me instructions of making meals and preparing them for the freezer so I can eat quickly and heathily later!

  63. I've done it in the past- Spaghetti sauce, porcupine meatballs, taaco meat do come to mind. I've started browning all hamburger once I buy it and bring it home. Thats a helper to just put in the crockpot

  64. I did try the Make ahead cooking when I was pregnant with my first, since I was told it would be so much easier with a newborn in the house! Problem is, I didn't make very much ahead, so it didn't last long. BUT, it was nice, and if I were smarter, I'd do it every weekend just like you do!

  65. At our house we all pretty much make food and then eat it, I don't think any of us has tried making meals to freeze.

  66. I've tried making a bunch of one thing and freezing it, but this doesn't work that well for me since I have a small freezer, and we get tired of it before it runs out. I'd love to take a look at what this book offers.

  67. I just found your blog and am enjoying it. I do like to prepare ahead, but I think I go about it the wrong way - I always have a ton of meat around but coming up with ideas on what to do with it is my downfall. Also, I forget to defrost. A lot. Sometimes we use Let's Dish, but their meals can get repetitive so I take months off in between!

  68. I'm always looking for ways to make my life simpler. This cookbook sounds perfect for me. I could make some great meals on the weekend, freeze them and eat them throughout the week when my life is the most hectic.

  69. Oy, I have not figured out the "At least have a dinner *idea* by five" thing. This book might actually save my children from starving. Because, you know, at 5:01:01 they are quite literally "Starving, Mom!"

  70. I need to get this book so I can cook on the weekends. I'm too tired to cook in the evenings. Thanks for the giveaway!

  71. I am so bad at coming up with dinner ideas. I usually cook so that there's enough for dinner the next day, too, but that's as close as I've gotten to make-ahead dinners. I don't really like to cook, so reducing the amount of time I spend doing it, and even more importantly, being able to figure out what to make in the first place, is something that I've been working at. Not much success so far.

  72. I would love to be so organized to have supper ready and in the freezer. Right now it is usually just slap something together at the last minute.

  73. I have actually thought about doing this and have planned for it. However, I executed it in a different way. I planned a two week menu out and got all the groceries and the day that I made the meal, I just made double and put the second one in the freezer. It was just easier than being on my feet all day long to do some meals. It has saved us a lot of money since we don't eat out nearly as much anymore! I would love to get that book to have as a guide to be able to do more in the future!

  74. I love to read and try new recipes from cookbooks!It would be such a blessing to have several meals ready in the freezer to pop in the oven. Great giveaway.

  75. I haven't cooked large amounts and frozen on a regular basis, just once in awhile after the kids moved out and I couldn't stop cooking for four...

  76. I am a cookbook addict, and I can just sit on a couch and read them like a regular book; but they give me so many ideas.

  77. I've wanted to try to do this for years, it just seems like all the times I do try my hubby doesn't like the food after it's out of the freezer and cooked or recooked. I could sure use some recipes that have been tried and true!!

  78. I freeze my beef stew and my tamales but other than that I don't really know what I CAN freeze and what I CAN'T! This book looks amazing!

  79. I have never tried a system like yours, but I have frozen stews or soups to eat later. I would love to have a weeks worth of food in my freezer!
    smchester at gmail dot com

  80. I've always ben interested in trying this, but haven't found a book with recipes that fit our family's likes/dislikes. I'd love to try this one.

  81. I have done this before and it helps with lunches during the week. Especially if you fix chili and soups! I need some different recipes though. I would love to have this book!

  82. The only make ahead meals hubby does are on Sunday's for Monday or Tuesday night dinners so they don't get put in the freezer. Sounds like a cool cook book. I think Kev would prefer to cook a whole weeks worth sometimes but then again sometimes we aren't feeling what was on the original menu plan so it's nice to switch it up sometimes.

  83. I make ahead alot of food and freeze. I just make a crockpot full of snap beans and froze 4 cartons of them to use with meals later on.

    I do this when my husband is home to help me and it really helps me out in the long run because I am battling chronic illness and get exhausted real fast.

  84. we usually only do sauces. after my first and second child we did more meals in the freezer but now it's become a little more challenging. i like your meal ideas. i think we could use a little variety.
    oh and just as a follow up i tried your wonderful idea of sending individual muffins to someone but with cinnamon rolls.....BUT i don't know what i did wrong - they tasted awful!! i gave them to the garbage. :P try try again....

  85. This really is a great concept. So many people find it hard to eat Healthy because of TIME. Having meals not only planned ahead of time, but ready to cook, would save time, money and overall make for a healthier lifestyle.

  86. Yes, I try to make a make-ahead meal any time I'm spending a long time in the kitchen anyway, but I'm kind of stuck with the same old recipes. I love having something I can whip up in minutes that looks like it took all day to make.

  87. I've never tried the make-ahead method, but I've wanted to for so long! A while ago I was given a gift certificate to one of those cook-once-for-the-week places, and it was really great, but I never got around to doing it at home. I wasn't really sure what would/wouldn't freeze and reheat well. Having meals already prepped and in the freezer would be great for my family. I'm really the only cook, but some nights I'm just too tired or busy to make dinner. If the only cooking skill required was reheating, my family would be better able to fend for themselves, lol!

  88. i need help cooking, i never know what to make and i always make the same thing. this book looks really helpful

  89. Yes I like to make meals ahead and freeze them. Every two weeks I write out a food menu and I cook the recipes, put them in individual ziploc bags or containers, label and freeze them. It is so much easier knowing that dinner just needs to be heated.

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

  90. I really wish we had an extra freezer in the garage to do something like this. My freezer just seems so small without having a bunch of meals in it. I will have to work on organizing the freezer...

  91. We have a small family but since I am soon to be a college student, this book would be so handy!!
    Premade meals will be a HUGE help!

  92. I do this type of POWER COOKING (that's what I've heard it called in the past) for a few recipes I have. I love the days I just pull something out of the freezer. I'd like to win though, so I'd have more variety of things to freeze for those quick meals. I agree your feet do hurt, because you are on them the whole day you do the cooking, but the other days feel a bit more blissful. The recipes I do right now are stuffed bell peppers, lasagna, burrito's, chili con carne, rolls of various types, sausage egg biscuits, pancakes or waffles, pulled BBQ pork, meatloaf, sloppy joe filling, pizza dough, pizza sauce. I do need more recipes though, so I'd love to win this book. Good luck to all.

  93. We tend to make larger batches of food, and since our family is small, we can freeze some and have it a few weeks later.

  94. That's a great idea. In the summer I tend to be a little too spontaneous in my cooking due to the mounds of fresh veggies abounding. But in the winter, this sounds perfect!

  95. When I had my third baby I had a shower that everyone brought me a freezer meal.It was so wonderful. I could really use a book like this. It would help me out greatly. I really found it so wonderful to just go to the freezer and all the time consuming tasks were done!!

  96. I first did freezer dinners just before we brought our first baby home. A good friend of mine was going to Dream Dinners, or one of those places, on a regular basis. When she told me about it I realized it was something I could easily do on my own. My husband helped the first time and we stashed away a dozen or so meals before Riley was born. I rarely do a big day of cooking like that any more. But anytime I am making something that can be frozen, I double the recipe so we can eat half that night and freeze the other. I still make a "fresh" dinner most nights, but we probably eat something out of the freezer once or twice a week.

  97. We're always looking for good meal ideas. We have some dietary restrictions at our house, but I like to use "normal" cookbooks and adjust accordingly. This would be great to try!!

  98. I would so like some new recipes for cooking in bulk and freezing. Having had a large family and having had to work most of the time it has been a life saving time saver for me.

  99. I have tried to do this over the last few months since I started working again. It definitely takes some of the stress out of dinnertime. i would love some new ideas and I'm sure the cookbook could help with that.

  100. I have never tried the "make ahead" approach, but I've been doing some research on it. I was thinking of having some of my best girls over and kinda make it into a party! This cookbook would be awesome to get some ideas from!
    sblilly14(@)yahoo(.)com

  101. Thanks for telling us about this! With four kids all involved in things, if I don't have a clear meal plan for the week, it's chaos. I hope I get this one!!

  102. In my house we have done a little bit of making ahead meals, normally we will just double a receipe. We enjoy the fact that we don't have to think about dinner and there is no prepping involved the day of. I would love to get into the habit more.

  103. I've been reading at onceamonthmom.com for a while, but since I was the only adult in the house I didn't feel like it would be worth it to prepare entire meals in advance like that. Now that Scott is finally home I'll probably give it a shot.

    What are some of your favorite freezer meals so far?

    Level 3 already?? I got a few days behind due to sick kiddos and not having the energy after holding/ helping someone throw up for 24 hours to make myself work out. I know I should move up to level 3, but I love, love level 2. Is it much harder??

  104. I have tried it once by myself. Then two other times with friends from church. It is so worthwhile especially when all the children are involved in sports. It makes dinner much easier.

  105. I've tried several of the make ahead places like Let's Dish, etc and they are very expensive. I occasionally do freeze meals, but would love to do it more often!

  106. I would LOVE to have this book!

    Last year I had 10 friends from church over to my house to do a meal exchange. We each picked one meal that freezes well, made 9, arrived with them, spent time together and exchanged! We instantly had 9 new meals on our freezer, made by other people! This book would be awesome to give me ideas for this year's meal exchange.

  107. the only thing i have ever really made ahead was baby food. i did the same thing... take some time one day to and chop, cook, puree and freeze the portions in ice cube trays. then i could pull them out as needed.
    i have never tried a "make ahead" method for getting dinner on the table for everyone. the only thing i try to do ahead is plan out some meal ideas for the week. it makes my grocery shopping way easier.
    i am very intrigued by the "make ahead" idea, though. i am even thinking i could get my sister-in-law on board and we could make a few meals together... we have dinner with them a couple of nights a week anyway. and i now have some ideas for new recipes to look for online. thanks : )

  108. I have several mom friends who do 'binge' cooking sessions to freeze stuff before having a baby and then have meals for up to a month saved and frozen! WOW :)

    Being a working momma, my husband recently told me to start picking up some frozen pizzas to use (i.e. so that he can cook) on those nights I'm too tired to decide what's for dinner!
    This book would be so awesome for us!

  109. I have never done this in large quantities, but I have been reading so much about it, that I'm really getting antsy to try. I guess I just have to be brave and take the plunge. The most I've ever done is baking two loaves of banana bread, for example, and freezing one. This book might just help me out!

  110. I always try to make more then we need for dinner and freeze the remaining meal. Its great for those rush evenings.

  111. Sometimes I do, but it is usually more in the winter because a) those types of meals (chilis, stews, soups, roasts) tend to freeze/thaw better, and b) because in the summer our meals are all about easy, light, cool, fresh because I can't bear to heat up the kitchen!

    Though something you mentioned about the book reminded me that I do prep/freeze sides and sauces: tomato sauces, roasted red peppers, stocks, cake bases.

    One of the luxuries ("treats") for ME of being a SAHM is the ability to cook! I love to cook. But I can imagine that when I go back to work, that treat will be a lot less leisurely and more frantic. A book like this would then be a welcome support!

  112. I tried to fix my meals ahead and freeze them a while ago, but got discouraged and only did it a couple of weeks. My problem was that the main dish was made but I still had to make side dishes which didnt seem to make my prep time any better then if I just made the dinner. So I am still thrown on what I think works best.

  113. This is a fabulous idea. I am constantly looking for ways to speed up dinner prep in our household. You would think that dinner for two adults would be simple, but it's not. We both work very long hours (10-12 hrs in the office), so upon our frantic rush back home, it can be daunting to have a 30-60 minute dinner prep and clean up ahead of you. I have tried to cut down on dinner prep by prepping everything on Sundays. We even have a whiteboard on our fridge that has the week's menu on it, which definitely helps, but I keep toying with the idea of making everything a head of time on Sunday and just popping it in. Does it still taste fresh? Is it only casseroles? Do you have to prep the sides? Thanks again for these tips. I love anything that makes my life more efficient, b/c then I get to spend the few moments with my hubby, who I adore. Thanks!

  114. Before both of my girls were born this was something that I wanted to do. I never did. I don't have a lot of freezer space so I don't know how much I'd be able to make ahead but it sure would be nice to have back up meals for those days I don't have the gumption to do something else. I like that there's an actual cookbook for this too. It saves the energy of getting recipes together and doubling and what not.

  115. Great idea. I have a family of 9... I am not sure if I have a freezer big enough! But I am willing to try!

    I have a freezer in the basement as well, so tons of room.

    I'm willing to try it. I am schedule oriented, so this might work! (I LOVE my crockpot for these reasons!)

  116. I'm not very good at making dinner ahead of time but it turns out that's OK becaues I AM good at getting something on the table by 6 p.m. My process consists of mapping out the meals of the week then writing a grocery list of all the items I need. I usually plan for 4-5 dishes in one week and we eat leftovers the other nights. However, my process hasn't been as smooth since cute little #2 came along. It's just such a big job to get both kids in the car and to the grocery store. I'm tried just thinking about it.

  117. I tend to keep my freezer stocked with individual ingredients as part of a well-stocked pantry. Keeping some ready to cook dishes on hand would be a life-saver for busy days!

  118. Another book my husband would love. His job is taking him out of state and overseas more and more.
    He enjoys cooking and would love to make food for us to eat while he is gone. It would also save us money because our children and I eat out while he is away on business!!!!!
    Thanks, Cindi

  119. I have cooked with a friend a few times. It is fun and very worthwile! We would love this book for new recipe ideas :)

  120. This would get my creative juices flowing to really dive into the kitchen and do some prep. I really believe planning ahead saves so much time and effort. I work full time so it's tough to come home and want to spend another hour cooking. I could just take one of these meals out and heat it up and be good to go. It would save me so many steps and create more time with my kiddo! Thanks for the give-away. I am so impressed everyday when I check your site out. Keep up the good work! I am hooked!

  121. I was just thinking this past week that I really need to find a cookbook that has make ahead meals. My daughter takes two naps a day and I could do most of the prep for a meal during the naps and then just pop it in the oven come meal time! This would be perfect for us!

  122. I keep thinking that I SHOULD do this, but haven't seen any recipes that call out to me to make it worth the effort...I do make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze that in individual containers for future meals, so I guess I do it for that.

  123. This is such a fantastic idea. I usually make extra of something and throw it in the freezer for a later date, but to actually make a bunch of meals and put them aside... great! I should do this, too, when baby #2 decides to come along (not in the picture yet! I am just planning!!!).

  124. I've never tried it, but I'd like to give it a shot. Sometimes at the end of the day I'm exhausted and want nothing more than to lay on the couch...NOT cook dinner. In fact, sometimes (like last night) Chris makes dinner so I can play with the girls and relax a little, but I feel guilty because he worked hard all day, too! I need to get it together and try this freezing stuff sometime and see if it works for us.

  125. I have been doing meals ahead of time at a store that specializes in meal prep. It can get kind of expensive and hectic especially having to leave the baby! I would love to win this book so I could prep meals at home!

  126. This would be great!

    I haven't yet tried to do this, though I know a couple of people who live by it. The idea of spending a day making food to then NOT have to do it every day is very appealing to me. I'm starting school full time at the end of August, but I still want to be able to serve my family healthy, well balanced, meals. This is something that I have been very concerned about being able to accomplish, so I think something like this would be really helpful!

  127. I'm TERRIBLE at cooking and planning ahead, so this books sounds like it is just what I need.

    Or maybe a person who will come and do it all for me? Can I pay extra for that? :)

  128. Sunset magazine ran a feature in 2004 for Master Recipes that you prepared and then made other dishes from. I enjoyed the day of cooking.

  129. This book sounds great. Most of the blogs I read write about doing this, and I have wanted to try. I need to set aside some time in my schedule.

  130. My Babies aren't "babies" anymore, but time for cooking seems to get worse instead of better! I'd love to try this method and appreciate the offer!

  131. I never "make'ahead", I'm lucky to gtet dinner on the table at all. This book intrigues me, I would love to get as organized as the author. thanks for the chance.

  132. I did this before with lunches for husband before baby was born. It worked well as long as he stuck to eating the homemade convenience food at the right time and not as a snack :) I've also tried my hand at making baby food and freezing it.

  133. We had an apartment with a fairly large freezer and now we don't :( I used to make meals ahead all the time *note that scallops potatoes with ham doesn't work well* and we even used one of those meal-assembly shops for awhile. That kinda helped me out like I could replicate the stuff they made on my own. I think soon though we will be buying one of those deep freezers (my birthday maybe?)

  134. I'm embarrassed to say but I hardly ever cook. My hubby is the cook a majority of the time (which he always like to point out to me)! We do have a few "make-ahead" meals but not too many. I think having more in the freezer may help now that we have a little one.

  135. I have never tried this, but I really should. I hate when 5pm rolls around and I'm suddenly faced with the question of what to cook for dinner. A freezer full of food would be such a blessing!

  136. I have done a cooking day with a friend using onceamonthmom.com... and actually I am doing another cooking day this Monday with two friends, so we are cooking for 3 families on one day.

    I think though, this may be the last time doing this way though, it is a lot of work on my part to pull it all together... and I don't have the flexibility to choose my own dishes. I would love to try out the book you are giving away. I think cooking once a week or two would be better. And picking and choosing the menu items would be better too.

    It is fun to cook with friends, but it is not feasible to always do it that way.

    That being said, it is great to have a freezerful of food! The one cooking day actually made enough food for two months for our family. My two year old and 4 month old do not really qualify us to be a family of four eaters, which is what the site is geared towards. It is nice to not have to worry so much about what to make every night.

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