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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 19, 2011
Even though there are only two people in our household, there are days when getting supper prepared, cooked and ready to eat is something that cannot be accomplished unless it's cereal or a pb&j. I often prepare meals ahead of times, or freeze leftovers from big meals, but after awhile we both noticed the rut we were in when it came to choices. Though many recipes in cookbooks, magazines, online sites, etc. claim to be make-ahead and freezable, they simply do not turn out as well as if they would have if eaten the same day as prepared. A person could say that almost any meal is freezable, but that doesn't mean it will freeze well, keep well, or even taste well when it is finally cooked.

This is the latest in a very long list of sources I've used to try and expand the variety of tasteful and healthy make-ahead meals. The practical information this book includes regarding freezing foods (which freeze well, which don't, causes and prevention of freezer burn, etc.) are worth the purchase price alone. With 120 recipes, I've found it quite easy to find ones we both like and, with little tweaks, others that will work great as well. I've also had no problems halving recipes that are too large or doubling those few I've made already for large get-togethers. And best of all, after reading the incredibly helpful information in this book, I can now go back to other favorite recipes and easily figure out how to make them much more freeze-ahead friendly.

For those of us trying to lose or maintain weight, this book should be required reading. Portion sizes can easily be controlled. With a freezer full of pre-made dinners, those weekly take out orders to the local Chinese place or pizza parlor can drastically drop. With no more wondering what's for dinner, you can avoid the roaming graze as you stand in front of an open pantry or fridge and wonder what to make. This book even shows how to plan ahead for a full months of meals. All you'd have to do is pop one in the oven or microwave, make a fresh salad or side of veggies while it cooks, set the table, and ding, dinner is done. With this book, it really can be this simple.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2013
This book was recommended to me and I read all the reviews here before buying it.
I agree with much of what others have written. It's a helpful book, but in some of the recipes I have made, I find fault with the recommendations for reheating the dishes once frozen.

In several cases, the cooking directions tell you how to freeze the complete recipe, but the reheating directions are for a partial recipe.

Case in point: page 184 - Chicken/Turkey and Mushroom-Stuffed Crepes. The directions tell you to use a 10 x 7 baking dish and fill with all the crepes (12 in all). The reheating directions are as follows:
"Bake frozen in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes (for a pan of 4 stuffed crepes) or until lightly browned on top and filling is bubbly".

Yes, I can figure out that I probably need to reheat the larger pan for a longer time, or defrost it overnight in the refrigerator and then follow her directions. But, a novice cook with a dining room full of waiting guests might not know how to adapt these directions.

A very helpful solution would be a chart at the end of each recipe that divides the recipe into smaller portions, tells you how to freeze each (size of pan, amount of food per pan), and then directs you how to reheat each different size option.

Another puzzling recipe: page 159 - Beefy Baked Macaroni. This recipe, as you would expect, has you brown the ground beef, and remove it from the skillet, proceeding with the rest of the prep. She neglects to mention the beef again, and you have to already be a cook to surmise when to add it back into the dish. Then the recipe says: "Spray a 12 cup baking pan with cooking spray. Divide beef mixture among the prepared pans and sprinkle shredded mozzarella over top. Cool completely, cover with foil, label, and freeze". Does she mean a muffin pan with twelve one cup sections? A casserole dish that holds twelve cups? There's no way to know because she directs you to put the food in one pan and then freeze multiple pans.

These disconnects between preparation directions and reheating directions are not problematic if you are a cook with some experience. But, if you are a person who would rather not deal with the types of inconsistencies I have mentioned, you might want to choose another cookbook for freeze-ahead meals.

I have had to pencil in the sizes of pans I used, the amount of food I put in each, and the reheating time that yielded the best results. Of course, who doesn't have penciled in adaptations written all over their cookbook pages?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
This cook book is terrific! I enjoy it so much. The first thing that struck me were the recipe selections. Cheri's choices are interesting and offer foods I want to eat, foods I want to prepare. Second, there are a lot of recipes here providing a nice diversity of meals to consider. Third, her stuff works. The how-to guides on freezer storage and the follow-up preparation are spot on. And the icing on the cake is everything tastes good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2011
I got this book and immediately fell in love with it! Not only are there a bunch of great recipes but the practical information about freezing foods is hugely helpful (which foods freeze well and which ones don't, what causes freezer burn, etc). Planning and freezing meals as taught in this guide is an enormous time saver. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 21, 2011
What I loved about this book was that it was more than just another cookbook, but instead it provides all a way to organize their eating habits and their lives. So whether you are a college student or a parent, you are given a ton of great ideas and recipes that will help you to prepare for the future and allow yourself the luxury to step back and say, I don't have to cook something fresh tonight! The author provides valuable insights into everything from breakfast food to appetizers, to dinners and more, and outside of this she is also giving nutritional advice. I also have to rave about the appendix items. The well-stocked kitchen is a valuable resource and the glossary gives you just about everything and the kitchen sink. This is a must have book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2012
Unlike other freezer/cook ahead cook books I have, this one takes the time to explain the how and why behind their recipes, thereby allowing me to modify techniques used in the book and apply them to my own recipes.

Very happy with this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2011
I bought this book and have made a few of dishes already. They were really great, yummy. Great and easy instructions!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2013
I was so excited to get this book. I'm a beginner cook, and I follow recipes precisely. I'm cooking for two. I was looking for fairly healthy, tasty, freezer-friendly recipes that would be simple enough for me to get right the first time / without a lot of fuss, and not require a huge amount of time in the kitchen for each meal. I've now had the book for a few months, have read the intro chapters just for fun, and this week I cooked two of the meals.

Frustrating things I've encountered with these recipes:

1) Crunchy Oven-Baked Pork Chops (pg 167)
* There was definitely NOT enough coating for the number of pork chops (8). I completely ran out halfway through, and had to make a new batch of coating.
* While, baking, the pork chops got soggy underneath. If I'd been an experienced cook, I might have guessed that you're probably supposed to turn them during cooking or something. I think this should have been suggested in the recipe.

2) Spinach-Stuffed Meat Loaf (made tonight) (pg 154)
* The instructions for what baking pans to use are completely confusing! The recipe says to "Spray 4 (6 1/2 x 5-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray." First of all, I don't own a 6 1/2 x 5-inch 'loaf' pan. I've never even heard of one. That doesn't sound like a loaf shape in the first place, does it? More square-ish. I even googled this to see if google would prompt me for the dimensions, but it didn't. I own two loaf pans, 9 x 5 and 8 x 4, so I used those. I had no idea how or if this would work. (I had also halved the recipe, so I just filled the two pans instead of four.) Luckily, it fit. But I wasted a good 15-20 minutes on this problem, and also dirtied a third (8 x 8 square) pan trying to figure it out.

* Speaking of time, the "prep time" prediction was COMPLETELY off for me. The author predicts that it should take a person 20 minutes to prep this meat loaf for the oven. It took me a full two hours (including the 15 minutes mentioned above). I know because I timed it. That's literally six times the amount stated. I know these prep times are just guesses, and things would probably vary based on a million factors, but I think two hours when you're told 20 minutes is extreme.

* The recipe does not specify how much salt to use in the meat mixture. It just says "salt." I sprinkled some (sea salt) in, but was afraid to use too much lest it be too salty. Again, as a beginner -- and someone who's never made meat loaf before -- I had *no* idea how much to use, and thought it'd be better to err on the side of not enough. The loaf came out tasting like a slab of bland cow. Definitely not enough salt. If this book is for "complete idiots," a.k.a. beginners, I really think things like amounts of salt should be specified in the recipes. I do understand that people's taste for salt is subjective. At the very least, I would've appreciated something like "1 tsp of salt, or to taste." I need *some* sort of guideline.

Basically what I'm saying is, though I've only tried two recipes so far, both have caused enough issues to make me feel this is NOT a beginner-level book -- and/or the book wasn't proofread very well. I'll probably try a few more dishes, because I do love the premise behind the book and the information at the beginning. If the recipes were accurate and reliable, I could've given it 5 stars. As it stands, I'm really disappointed in this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
I am in love with this book!
I am not sure if it is because of all the recipes that will help me make meals easier and have more time with the family...
Or, if it is because of all the information that it was able to teach me..
Either way, this is a win win book for our house!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2012
There are lots of good ideas in this book, and I like that it not only contains recipes, but give a good how-to, for people who don't know anything about blanching and what food freeze well and why. I can hardly wait to get cooking!
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