The Great Freezer Refill

It began some time ago: the Great Freezer Refill. As my eight-week overseas trip grew closer I began squirreling away meals: a portion of lasagna here, a serve of lamb rogan josh there – small enough not to be missed when I cooked in bulk to tide us through the grueling, nose-to-grindstone week ahead. This frozen bounty is for the loved one I’ve left at home, to keep him well fed in my absence.

The trick was not to tap into the stockpile, to pretend it wasn’t there. Even when struck down with a debilitating dose of ‘can’t be arsed to cook’, when all i could really be bothered to do was defrost and reheat and retreat to the couch, I turned my back on that frozen stash and knuckled down to peeling vegetables, dicing onions, splatting cloves of garlic with the back of the blade of my favourite knife, to pureeing tomatoes, casseroling and currying: whatever it took to feed us without diminishing the frozen hoard, indeed even contributing to the stockpile it if i was shrewd enough.

Before i knew it the top drawer of the freezer was over half full with plastic containers, each neatly labelled and bearing single serve portions of some of our favourite meals: spicy lamb kofta, slow-simmered veal ragu, and rich tomato, olive, basil and parsley sauce – with anchovies that melt to nothing but another layer of flavour – and which is stirred sparingly, for its intensity, through a twirl of spaghetti and topped with some shavings of Parmesan cheese.

The stockpiling – over about six weeks – was genius, in hindsight. Time was not on my side in the lead up to this trip: there were features to write, deadlines to meet, eight weeks of eating around Europe to plan, accommodation to book, cars to hire, restaurant reservations to make, the plummeting Australian dollar to comprehend, knickers to get in a twist: the usual pre-holiday shenanigans, multiplied by four because of the duration of this particular sojourn.

The stockpiling meant that on the Sunday before my Monday morning flight, half the job was already done. Shattered from writing features and freelance articles, from plotting an extended trip across Europe, booking accommodation, and restaurants, and multiple flights, from sashaying across the internet to find the best deal, monitoring exchange rates, reading guide books and working a full-time job (indeed, some days working two people’s jobs) I pulled myself out of bed and rolled up my pajama sleeves. Within three hours I’d added another nine meals to the freezer, filling it to the point that the drawer won’t open easily once everything has expanded a tad in frozen rigidity.

The upshot is there are 30 homemade meals in the freezer: each carefully labelled and love hearted and sometimes bearing cooking instructions. They’ll comfortably tide my partner over the next five weeks. Then he’ll be on a plane to meet me for a three-week gastronomic splurge in Spain and France. At which point I won’t be doing the cooking.

As I cooked and squirreled away meals for him to eat in my absence, he downloaded maps to my iPad of the European cities I’ll be visiting, as well as guidebooks, and plenty of new music to listen to. My iPad is as well stocked as the freezer.

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14 Comments

Filed under Reflections

14 responses to “The Great Freezer Refill

  1. What a double adventure, Rachel! Firstly for you heading to Europe (I can’t wait to read all about it!!)… and secondly for your man, dipping into the freezer for his meals that you’ve prepared so lovingly.

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    • The double adventure will really start when he comes to meet me in the south of Spain for a week, then we drive to the south of France, and a week later on to Paris. Missing him already.

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  2. You’re a star, Rach. I don’t know how you fit it all in when you’re already working far longer hours than most humans. When you get time, I’d love that pasta sauce recipe! Have an absolutely fabulous trip, hope to catch up when you get back! xx

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  3. Safe travels Rachel. Sounds like an amazing trip…and delicious home cooked meals too 🙂

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    • Well, I am currently a hop skip and a jump away from my home
      (where the folks are). One more hour to wait for connecting flight, one an hour and a half of travel then I’ve reached my first destination … After 35 hours travel. Shattered.

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  4. You’re such a wonderful partner! It’s nice that he’s helped you out on the tech side of your trip, too!

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  5. I’m from the ‘cook bulk meals for easy access during the week’ philosophy as well. Sounds as if I’m like you – has to leave meals behind in case you come home to the other half’s dessicated corpse frozen in a posture of scrabbling at a tin of beetroot.

    Have you ever wondered what would happen if you left the other half to their own devices?
    I figure a number of scenarios would happen:
    1. they will burn water, wear carrots in their ears in frustration and lettuce on their head as a pretty hat. Eventually ending up breaking their nails on the aforementioned tin of beetroot before passing away in one last agonising breath cursing the inedible macdonalds just around the corner.
    2. the not so smart ones turn into a buddha (in shape if not in mind) because they found enlightenment under those golden arches
    3. they will eventually be forced outside to hunt down a large animal (with a makeshift spear made from the handle of a broom and a spark plug as the spear point attached with electrical tape) and drag it’s carcass home to get a quick warming up over the burning water
    4. if left long enough they will be proud of the toasted cheese as a tentative 10th try of burning them (to the soundtrack from 2001 a space odyssey). This will progress to a simple stir fry and by the time you get home you will be greeted by a nice roast pork with succulent crackling all trimmings and finished off with a souffle for dessert.

    Luckily the kids at our place are showing an interest in cooking – a major pain in the butt at first but will hopefully pay off in the long run so that i can sit back and turn into a buddha shape and dispense cryptic phrases

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  6. What a lucky man you have! I frequently went on trips overseas and my husband was lucky if there was any food in the fridge which had not yet expired, let alone lovingly-prepared meals in the freezer. Have an amazing time in Europe and I can’t wait to read all about it 🙂

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  7. what a beautiful catalog of flavours… i too want the pasta recipe when you return! and what a beautiful person you are to do all that. i hope there is some of the stash left over for your first night or two home; i hope the freezer door shuts enought hat you don’t have a defrosting malfunction.
    have a wonderful and safe trip FS 🙂

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    • Thank you, dear friend. It’s more an obsessive/compulsive streak on the freezer filling front, I think. Although, I’m very conscious that my other half is over-worked & stressed & coming to the end of a major project at work while i’m away. Having said that, i too hope a couple of my meals last until i come back home. Nothing worse than cooking on your first days back from hols … it’s a bit like doing the laundry!

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