With the explosion of blogs written by home-cooks (vs. professional cooks) and Pinterest, I have been tempted and lured by freeze-ahead meals and meal planning. Here's why I don't do many freeze-ahead and extremely pre-planned meals:
1. I prefer "fresh" meals. I prefer the taste and the variety of meals that are prepared from never-frozen, available-right-now ingredients. I prefer the ingredients I use to be as minimally processed and have as few additives/preservatives as possible. I prefer local ingredients. A lot of the recipes I've seen for freeze-ahead and pre-planned meals include highly processed ingredients. I don't like that.
2. I find that having a pantry with staples (pastas, rices, canned tomato sauce, whole grain flours, etc.) and a freezer full of real meat* that I buy in bulk when it's on sale is as much "pre-planning" I need. And it's way more versatile.
3. On any given day I may have a lot or maybe just a little time to prepare dinner. On any give day I may be in the mood for a certain dinner. Why lock myself into a prepared schedule of dinners with little wiggle room because my grocery list that week didn't buy the ingredients I needed for a certain recipe? I do like the idea (and we did it for awhile, probably should start doing it again) where I might plan 7 meals for each week, but not dictate specifically which day each meal will be prepared until the day I make it. That's fine. That amount of variety works for me. I'm too laid-back to be held to a rigid calendar of food preparation.
4. I keep a few frozen casseroles on hand in case of emergency/desperation. That's all I need as far as completely and entirely prepared meals.
5. I like cooking. I would miss it if I prepared every single meal in the crock pot or in bulk ahead of time. Cooking is a stress reliever for me and I don't want a reason to stop spending those minutes each day doing it. A from-fresh-ingredients, home-cooked meal doesn't have to take hours. In fact, some of our most favorite dinners take less than 30 minutes. Even the busiest of people can do something like that.
6. I enjoy crock pot meals and when I was working full time I used my crock pot a lot. Well, a lot more than I do now, but even then, I prepped the crock pot in the morning before I left for work (yes, at 6:00am, while Roger was still snoozing away). I guess I'm just not a freeze-ahead girl. I certainly see why some would choose to be freeze-ahead-ers, but it's just not for me. Since I've been asked so much recently about the topic I decided I'd just put this out there.
*Real meat. Perhaps deserves a blog post of its own. Roger and I over the course of the last year or so have really decided it's worth it to buy local, free from saline solution, free from antibiotics, free from additives of any kind, never-frozen meat as much as possible. It tastes better. It feels better to know that we're eating better. It's a bit of a financial sacrifice, but to us, it's worth it.
Don't even get me started on the state of the food system in America. It's bananas. Highly processed, genetically modified bananas.