After posting about my freezer cooking marathon, I got quite a few questions regarding how I do it, and how I know what to freeze. I was really shocked how many people asked me about what I did. I was telling Mark that I thought I was the only one in the world who didn’t know how or what to freeze. Apparently, I was very wrong, and that made me very happy. In hopes to help those who had questions, I’ll tell you what I know, which really isn’t much.
I’m still very new to this freezer cooking world. I’ve been reading a lot about other women around blogosphere doing it, but only recently made the transition to trying it out myself. I’ve always found freezer cooking to be a little scary.
- What if we don’t like the meal after it’s been frozen?
- What if I cook with something that shouldn’t be frozen?
- How do I store all the food I’m freezing?
- Is my freezer big enough for it to be worth it?
Lots and lots of questions. However, finally I decided that I was never going to learn the answers to those questions unless I at least tried.
My first real experience with freezer cooking was with the group of ladies from church. It was a great learning experience for me. I got to see what they froze, how they packaged the food, and what types of food worked for freezing. This time I took what I learned and applied it to my own freezer cooking.
As I mentioned the other day, I sat down and made a list of all the meals we enjoy, as well as what meals I thought would freeze well. Once I had that list, I made a list of all the ingredients in a spreadsheet and totaled what I needed of each item. Then, I went shopping. In addition, I planned how much time I had the following week to devote to freezer cooking. I planned which days I would do what meal. Just thinking through and planning out the time really helped me in the long run. When the day came for me to begin cooking, all I had to do was carry out my plan that I had worked on for only a few hours a couple of days before.
It really was that simple.
Some tips that I found helpful:
- Choose meals that are relatively easy to put together.
- Check your pantry for what you already have on hand.
- Don’t confine yourself to a recipe. Get creative.
- Small chunks of time that I spent working very quickly worked best for me.
- Take everything out of the freezer when arranging and put everything back in. You will be more likely to utilize the space you have better.
- Put some music or a sermon in your ears for while you work. Mark downloaded some sermons on work that kept me motivated for the task at hand.
- Don’t think thoughts like, “I can’t do this.” It really gets you no where.
- Do what you can and be ok with what you accomplish. Just one meal in your freezer is better than nothing at all.
- Be realistic with your time.
Another suggestion for freezer cooking that I’ve done when I’m in busy seasons is plan to double meals throughout the week. There have been many times that I’ve done this, and over time I’ve filled my freezer full of yummy meals without taking a lot of extra work to do it. It might take an extra 5-10 minutes to do this. You’ve already got all the ingredients out. Your kitchen is already a mess. Why not make the meal twice and freeze one.
Finally, don’t let me be your model. Talk with your husband or roommates, and consider what is realistic for your family and home. Just because I’m making and freezing 17 meals doesn’t mean that if you don’t do that then your freezer cooking day was a failure. There will be seasons when freezer cooking is not possible for your family, and you just need to make a list of 30 minute meals to make on the fly. I remember the days of working full time and rushing home to get dinner started and on the table with only 15-30 minutes to do so. There was never a spare moment to do a freezer cooking marathon. Each family is different. Each family is in a season unique to only them. Do what works for you, and steer clear of comparison. :)
Freezer Meals that I have found to work well:
- Chicken-N-Pasta Bake
- Chicken Divan
- Hamburger Patties
- Chicken Mirabella
- Cottage Pie – minus the mashed potatoes. I suggest adding those fresh once you’ve thawed the dinner to cook.
- Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Bags of Chili
- Make-Ahead Butterhorns
- Tortellini Soup – leave tortillini in packaging and freeze. add the day you cook soup. keep noodles from getting soggy.
And so many more, but those can get you started!
- Freezer Friendly Recipes at Life As Mom
- Freezer Cooking Q & A at Life As Mom
- Once A Month Mom
- Nutritious Freezer Meal Carnival at Passionate Homemaking
Hope this was helpful!