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.