I have a friend who makes Martha look like an amateur. She’s one of those intimidatingly organized domestic goddesses who makes an art of holiday decorating, keeps an immaculate home, looks like a million dollars even with a newborn in the house, and makes gorgeous clothes for her equally gorgeous children. She even smocks.
So it should come as no surprise that she also has feeding her family down to a routine so polished that even Henry Ford take note. Her secret? Freezer meals. One Sunday every month, she devotes herself to a day of cooking. Pre-cooking, really. Followed by ziploc bagging, labeling, and freezing. All to get the freezer stocked with breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the family so they can eat well without blinking for the foreseeable future.
She’s Once A Month Mom‘s most prodigious protege.
While I might spend most Sundays reveling in after-church sweatpants with the New York Times instead, every so often, I go on a freezer food binge. I love having a couple of great recipes in my back pocket for delicious freezer meals that I can take to friends who’ve just had babies or neighbors in need. I take comfort in knowing that if I really don’t want to cook, there’s bound to be something in the freezer we can pop into the oven and know counts as a meal. And mostly, I like knowing that if I come home totally exhausted, my family will have more than popcorn and baby carrots for dinner. (Why no, that’s never happened to me before.)
My favorite go-to freezer recipe is an apple and cherry pork loin, slightly modified from the original Once A Month Mom recipe. A simple recipe, the pork loin is slow cooked with apples, cherries, onion, and celery until it’s succulent and soft and you’re wondering if it’s ever going to make it into the freezer at all. I usually substitute white wine for the apple juice and add dried apricots, freshly cracked pepper, and thyme, but truthfully, you can cook this recipe as is and it’s going to be fantastic.
It’s intended for the crock pot, but my crock pot and I aren’t on speaking terms. Instead, I assemble it, braise it slowly in our dutch oven, and freeze it once it’s on the rarer side of done. Reheating is simple: with great care and tenderness, I take the thawed pork loin, throw it on a microwave-safe plate, and toss it into the microwave. (I’m so gourmet.) I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that I frequently use Uncle Ben’s microwave rice with this. And salad in a bag.
But it’s still one of those meals so delicious my husband asks for it on a regular basis.
I’ve toted this pork loin to countless church suppers, bereaved friends, parents of new babies, and sick neighbors in need. But mostly, I’ve consumed vast amounts of it myself. It’s a great freezer recipe: the kind that doesn’t break the bank, keeps well, and takes little to no thought to get on the table when you finally realize you’re plum out of ideas for dinner that don’t involve the microwave.
I might never be the kind of mom who can sit down and make a month’s worth of food at once or hand-smock darling outfits for my children, but every once in awhile, I can put together a decent freezer meal that, when push comes to shove, saves the day every time. And might just be on our dinner table tonight.
Do you keep any meals stocked in your freezer? What do you bring to friends with new babies or those in need?