Meal planning can be time saving as well as environmental - when you buy what you need, you tend to waste less food. Taking that a step further is freezing food for meals. I first learned about freezer meals when I was pregnant with our first child who is now 22 years old. There were no blogs back then and very few books even on the subject. I saw a segment on the original Home & Family show when it was on the The Family Channel (with Cristina Ferrare) with Nanci Slagle and Tara Wohlenhaus demonstrating recipes from their cookbook 30daygourmet. I was hooked! I was eventually featuredin their newsletter (along with a future paleo blogger some of you might be familiar with, our daughter @paleocrumbs) and had one of my recipes published in one of their ebooks (no longer in publication.) I learned so much about freezer cooking from them and have relied on the principles since that time. As a mom of 4, it has helped me save time SO much over the years!
I love the idea that I can freeze foods for every type of meal (even mixes and cookie dough!) to free up my time. As our dietary needs have changed it has come in handy as well to be able to freeze a variety of foods to have on hand. Two great freezer cooking sites that largely involve crockpot and instant pot cooking are from busy moms who want to feed their family well without spending a fortune. For gluten and dairy free needs, both of these sites have either dietary recommendations for the recipes or dietary specific recipes.
New Leaf Wellness is a freezer cooking site created by Dr. Kelly McNelis. The "Dr." refers to her Ph.D in Psychology that she used to apply to health research for the government before she quit in 2012 to stay home full time after her 2nd child to pursue her creative passion that is her blog (she now has 5 children I have to add). Her site has hundreds of recipes for free!!!! She has chicken recipes, ground beef recipes, meatless recipes, even recipes for 2. There are grocery store specific plans such as for shopping from Costco or at Aldi. She has a great post for making your own spice mixes. She also has multiple e-books for purchase and if you sign up for her newsletter, she sends coupons periodically.
MyFreezEasyis a site from Erin Chase, the creative dynamo behind $5 Dinners and $5 meal plans who's been writing cookbooks, creating recipes and meal plans for years. These plans are designed to be prepared in less than an hour to save you time and money. They are fee based, however, they do include videos showing you assembly how-to, grocery lists, grocery labels, recipes, and she even has a sample recipe on the site for you to try before you buy :) A great benefit of these plans is there are ones such as "All Chicken Recipes Plan" or "All Ground Beef Recipes Plan" so if you happen upon a great sale on marked down grass-fed beef like I did last week, you could prep these meals and in less than an hour have 10 meals put away in the freezer (and feel quite accomplished!) She has a plan that is "All Grill Recipes Plan" that will be great to have on hand for the summer. For those with gluten or dairy free allergies, every recipe includes substitutions if the recipe isn't already gluten or dairy free. A great benefit of her included videos is that you could enlist anyone in your household to help with this task (especially kids, teens) as a cooking class in a way. If you have several willing participants, perhaps purchase a few plans and have a challenge to see who can finish the assembly first and pass out a prize to the winner. I'm not an affiliate, just a fan and sharing how to make it easier to get whole food on the table. What you see pictured is the Chicken No-Tortilla Soup. This recipe calls for several spices including Granulated Garlic and Onion. I purchase mine from PrimalPalate, online organic spices based in Pittsburgh (my husband's hometown - go Steelers!). These spices are organic, fresh and I love supporting a small company that believes in bringing a quality product to add great flavor to kitchens everywhere!
Whether you think you can or can't cook, whether you like to or don't like to cook - I think these sites provide a wealth of information for all of us from planning to variety, all while giving us that element we seek more of . . . time.