This January Plan to Eat is hosting the Make Ahead Meal Plan Challenge, a 28-day challenge to help you start your own meal planning routine in 2017.
The Make Ahead Meal Plan Challenge will teach you how to make freeze-ahead meals for an entire week’s worth of dinners using just a few hours in the kitchen! Imagine not having the stress of dinner for the entire week while still being able to eat great home-cooked meals. The challenge is completely free, all of the recipes and meal planning tools are provided through Plan to Eat, we have a great Facebook community where we can exchange meal planning tips and tricks, and we would love for you to join the challenge with us.
The first two weeks of recipes for the challenge come from the fabulous book Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik (pronounced Ta-sic). This book was written by two moms, wanting to feed their families efficiently, but also nutritiously and affordably.
If you’re new to the concept of freezer cooking (or “batch cooking” as it’s sometimes called) here’s the gist: One recipe is multiplied several times, so that you make a huge batch. One can be eaten right away, and the others go into the freezer. With a freezer filled with meals, dinner is easy. Fix, Freeze, Feast is filled with recipes to get you up and running with freezer cooking and they provided the recipes for week one, and some of week two of our challenge!
For week one we made 3 different dishes using 4 different recipes:
We started by making the Basic Red Sauce because we use it in two other recipes. It’s a simple recipe that can be mixed together in minutes and requires no cooking. Any unused sauce can go into ziplock bags and into the freezer to be used like spaghetti sauce.
Next we made Classic Chilli, which uses the Basic Red Sauce that we just made. Apart from browning the ground beef, this recipe is also not cooked on the day you are doing the prepping. Follow the instructions in the recipe, spoon it into Ziplock bags, and put them into your freezer. When you are ready to eat, pull it out of the freezer, let it thaw, and heat it for 1 hour on low on your stovetop.
Next, we made Classic Lasagna. These layered lasagnas went directly into the freezer and can be pulled out, thawed, and baked for about 1 hour whenever we need them.
We rounded out the menu with Tex Mex Chicken Fingers. This simple recipe was made by dipping strips of chicken in breading to go directly into a bag and into the freezer. Simply thaw and bake for 30 minutes when you are ready for them!
For week 2 of the challenge we use two more recipes from Fix Freeze Feast
The Chicken-Broccoli Bake made one dish for the night we were doing the cooking and put plenty more in the freezer. Simply follow the instructions to assemble and put in the freezer. Pull them out and thaw when you need them, sprinkle with the toppings, and bake.
The Ginger Beef was tasty and super-easy to prepare. Follow the instructions, spoon it into bags and place it in the freezer. Thaw when you are ready to cook and put it into the slow cooker for 5-6 hours until the beef is fork tender.
For those of you in the challenge, the list of ingredients and instructions for all of these recipes can be found in your Plan to Eat account. Each of these recipes made two or more meals and can be pulled out of the freezer and cooked whenever we need them! Now our stressful weeknight dinners are easy, all thanks to meal planning and a little make ahead prepping!
Fix, Freeze, Feast is filled with many recipes that are just as easy as these, but it also has other great resources that are handy for freezer cooking:
- A freezer inventory sheet that can be photocopied and hung on the fridge (at the top, of course, where your two-year-old won’t be coloring on it). On the sheet you can list what dishes are in the freezer, the date they went into the freezer, and a column where you can mark whether it’s still in the freezer, or if you’ve used it.
- A few pages with tips on adapting your own recipes for freezer cooking
- Some pages with tips on how to fix mistakes (because I make a lot of mistakes)
- Lots of recipes that are either allergen-friendly, or adaptable to be allergen-friendly.
- Freezer labels for every recipe with the name of the dish and how to prepare it from its frozen state. These can be photocopied and then taped to the storage container. No need to pull out the cookbook again to track down the recipe instructions. It’s all right there.
Fix, Freeze, Feast is available from many booksellers for about $15 and is a must have for anyone juggling a busy household. However, if instead of buying your own copy, you’d rather have the thrill of winning your own copy, we’ve got you covered!
What’s a Make Ahead Meal Plan Challenge without a $400 prize package at the end?!
Everyone who joins the challenge will be entered into a huge giveaway with a $400 prize package! The drawing will be held on January 31st and the winner will receive:
($15) Your very own copy of the book Fix, Freeze, Feast
($39) 1 free year of Plan to Eat
($19) a Plan to Eat canvas shopping bag
($200) KitchenAid 13 Cup Metal Food Processor (your choice of color!)
($23) Komax Oven Safe Glass Food Containers
And over $100 of other tools to get your kitchen set up and running efficiently!
So, join us!
If you are new to meal planning or freezer cooking, join the challenge and let’s find a system that works for you using great recipes.
Also, join our Facebook group so that we can share meal planning tips and tricks with each other.
Let’s make 2017 the year that we get organized, and get dinner on the table!
The Giveaway Fine Print:
By participating in the Make Ahead Meal Plan Challenge you are entering and agree to the following Terms & Conditions:
- No purchase necessary.
- Open to residents of the U.S. 18+ (we apologize to those of you outside the US!)
- Opening date: 12/27/2016 03:00 pm MST
- Ending date: 01/31/2017 11:59 pm MST
- Giveaway sponsored by Plan to Eat, Inc. All rights reserved. 411 N Railroad Ave, Loveland, Colorado 80537
- 1 winner will win all of the prizes of the giveaway: ($200) KitchenAid 13 Cup Metal Food Processor, ($39) 1 free year of Plan to Eat, ($19) a Plan to Eat canvas shopping bag, ($15) a copy of the book Fix, Freeze, Feast, ($23) Komax Oven Safe Glass Food Containers, and over $100 of other tools to get your kitchen set up and running efficiently!
- The winner will receive all of these items, mailed together, through US Mail.
- 1 winner will be chosen at random from all of accounts that are linked through a friendship to the Make Ahead Meal Plan Plan to Eat account.
- Plan to Eat will contact the winner via email.