From Freezer to Table: Meals in Minutes

9/27/2009


I am often asked how I accomplish so much, and truth be known, when we do, something always has to give. We prioritize. I am a strong believer that we make time for that which is important to us. However, I can get so wrapped up in what we are doing during the day that I don't make meal planning a priority. But, you can bet that when we get hungry it quickly moves to the top of our list of priorities and I need to fix something fast!  This is not easy to do when you avoid processed foods and do not eat out. We can't make a fast food run or order take out. So what do we do?

We get by. But it doesn't have to be that way because Sue Gregg has a better plan. As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I had the opportunity to review the book, From Freezer to Table, Meals in Minutes, one of a set of whole food cookbooks by Sue Gregg. In this book you will find several topics, including but not limited to:
  • Recipe List
  • Cook's Prayer
  • How to Use This Book
  • Basic Stock List
  • Freezing Main Dishes
  • Extra Time saving Tips
  • Shopping Guide to Quality Ingredients
  • Buying Chicken
  • Coping With Cost
  • 5 Timesaver Meals
  • 5 Convenience Meals
  • 5 Quick Meals
  • 5 Make-Ahead Meals
  • 5 Ready-to-Serve Meals
  • Nutrition Goals
  • Recipe Nutrient Data Explained
  • A caution About Microwave Ovens
  • Vegetarian Alternatives
  • Other Freezer Recipes
The Meals in Minutes is set up in 5 sets of 5 recipes, with a shopping list and assembly plan. When I read that the simplest plan is to double or triple a recipe each time you prepare a dish, I knew this is something that I could do (and needed to do). I often cook for a crowd and serve the leftovers (for the next several days) so that I don't have to cook as often. Well, I'm sure I know that my family gets tired of eating the same thing day after day (even though they rarely complain - my husband never complains) so I am motivated to give this book a try. I am sure that they will be blessed by it.

 The first thing I did was to read over the Basic Stock List and purchase anything that I normally do not keep in stock. This included some spices I have never used, nuts and some canned goods. Then I read a quick overview of the different ways you can freeze, thaw and cook main dishes as well as the 4 step general method that Sue Gregg prefers to use for convenience and for preserving the flavor and nutrition. I then read about how seasonings can be affected by freezing and how to choose, prepare and combine ingredients.


The book then goes into more detail about:
  • Freezing Methods
  • Containers to Use
  • Temperature
  • Foil or Freezer Ziploc Method
  • Direct Dish Method
  • Containers and Container Sizes
  • How to Prepare in Quantity, Freeze Quickly, Freezer Space and Length of Time in Freezer
  • Thawing Methods - Refrigerator Method and Quick Thaw, Microwave, and Conventional Oven
  • Reheating Methods - Range Top, Microwave, Coventional or Convection Oven
There is also a section of Extra Time Saving Tips. The very first one is one of my favorites - A Sinkful Of Soapy Water. This is a huge time saver for me - I always have this ready to receive dirty dishes and I was happy to see it listed. There are two complete pages of practical tips that are sure to save lots of time - many that I know about and use, many I know about but am not in the habit doing, and many that are new to me. Then, there is a 5 page Shopping Guide to Quality Ingredients, Buying Chicken and Coping with Food Costs. The Shopping Guide has many ideas on how to choose the best foods for your family. I know that many people do not buy organic/all natural because of the cost, but the book teaches you how to cope with the extra cost of buying grass fed meats and quality foods. Next is how to cook chicken and turkey:
  • Preparing Chicken for Cooking
  • To Stew
  • To Crock-Pot
  • To Quick-Fry Simmer
  • To Stir-Fry
  • To Steam
  • To Freeze
I have been cooking whole chickens and making my own broth for over 13 years and I have aways loved my recipe . . . until I tried Sue Gregg's. I couldn't get over how good it smelled while cooking and how great it tasted. I'm hooked. I really enjoyed pouring over this book, and found lots of recipes I wanted to try, but I decided to begin at the beginning and try the 5 Timesaver Meals. I was only going to do a couple recipes, but once I got started it was easy enough to prepare for all 5. The 5 recipes I began with are:
  • Chicken Curry
  • Sausage Strata
  • Best Burrito Beans
  • Favorite Tamale Pie
  • Tuna Fettucine
I used the Time Saver Shopping List and made sure I had what I needed. Then, I followed the Timesaver Assembling directions.

The "Day Before" items included:
  • Presoaking beans
  • Soaking cornmeal
  • Cooking the chicken
  • Setting out canned/dry ingredients
  • Getting out freezer containers and cooking pans
  • Soaking the almonds*
*Note: Soaking is a part of the Two-Stage Process that enhances nutrition and digestion and is explained more in the book.
All my canned/dry goods set out and ready for Cooking Day.
Almonds, cornmeal and pinto beans soaking.

On the "Cooking Day," instructions are given for cooking, chopping, slicing, grating and sautéing and how to complete each recipe in step by step detailed instructions. It even tells you which recipe to prepare when to maximize time, ease and efficiency. And I really enjoyed getting my kids in the kitchen with me for this.


Cooking the beans and preparing the Sausage Strata.

Assembling the Sausage Strata and Favorite Tamale Pie.


The recipes are easy to follow and my children jumped right in to help.

We were in an out of the kitchen the whole day while we cooked, but I often spend this much time preparing for our Friday evening and Sabbath meals every Friday, so I was very happy to end up with that many meals for the same effort. I also appreciated having the menu suggestions that accompany each meal. Nutrition analysis is also available.

Making zucchini curls.

I made these while my husband was out of town and was so pleased to be able to offer him several menu options when he returned. Of course, he told me whichever is easiest for me, but I was able to say that they are all easy! I can tell you now that we have already eaten all five freezer meals that I made. We have had so much going on with building a house, schooling, reviewing and life, but it was so nice to simply pull a meal out of the freezer and put dinner on the table in minutes! I was also very happy to have a variety of dishes with texture and taste. I loved the use of almonds and water chestnuts to give flavor and crunch. I also learned how to make homemade turkey sausage with a seasoning mix that will make many more batches to come. I was also impressed with the many healthy food choices and options. There was not a single recipe that includes pork or shellfish, a bonus for our family who does not eat these things. If I had to pick one thing that I did not like about it, it would be that there were several recipes with mushrooms in them and we do not eat mushrooms either. But, I just plan to substitute homemade cream of chicken soup for the mushroom soup and omit the mushrooms when called for. If you are visual like me, you can head over to my blog, Steadfast at Home, and see a few more recipes we tried out and posted here. Meals In Minutes is 94 pages long and sells for $9 plus $4 shipping - a great price in my opinion for all that you get in this book.

You can read more about Meals In Minutes here, view a 39 page preview of the book, and even try a few recipes yourself. Sue Gregg also has a whole line of cookbooks that you can read about here. I will be reviewing two more cookbooks over the fall and winter and look forward to sharing those with you as well. To see other Crew member reviews, click here or on the banner below.

8 comments:

Andi said...

O MY Gosh! I NEED this book - great review Chel and what a blessing....

Mama Jenn said...

Thank you for the review! I have been hearing quite a bit about Sue Gregg. I think I may have to give her book a try. I am struggling in the meal planning dept right now!!!

Julie said...

thank you for this!! i so needed to read this review and I have already downloaded the sample of the book - which gives some great info without having to buy the book! I will be starting to do this tomorrow or the next day after i go get the essesntials needed!!!

Susana said...

OK, I have got to check out some of these Sue Gregg cookbook's. Your recipes in these reviews are so tasty, and this book sounds super!

Luke said...

Folks,

Let me tell you that these meals were absolutely fantastic! I really appreciated Michelle making them for me. Oh, and the smell was fantastic as well from start to finish it was a pleasant odor to have around the house. Thank you Michelle!

Love,

Luke

Kathy said...

Sounds like a cookbook we could use! Danny travels for a living, and so he is trying to freeze more meals and take them with, as opposed to eating out. Great ideas!

Jennifer said...

Have you used this again? A friend and I did "Cooking for a month in a day" together twice, a few years ago and I did enjoy the convenience of the freezer items prepared ahead. I did not realize Sue Gregg had a book like this. I enjoy her healthy teaching.

Michelle said...

Hi Jennifer,

I do use the cookbook regularly. I am not that fond of "freezer meals", but I do use her suggestion to double the recipe and make two meals at a time and several of the recipes have become our favorites. *Ü*

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