What is Freezer Cooking?
Ever heard of it? Read about it? It can mean different things to different people, so let’s cover those various methods today.
- Once-a-Month: Some people think of Freezer Cooking as a once a month, all day long project, where you plan your month’s menu, plan your shopping list and then spend one day cooking and baking. Then divide up your day’s efforts into smaller meal-sized containers and freeze. This may be casseroles, lasagnas, baked oatmeal, various type of meat that you season and cook today but then portion it out into baggies and use for various meals throughout the month (Such as cooking ground beef and then using it throughout the month for tacos, spaghetti, etc…). Then, you only have to pull out a dish/container to thaw and pop into the oven or microwave, add some fresh veggies or pasta and VOILA!! You have dinner. This works for many people. BUT, it is NOT how I choose to do freezer cooking. Do you?
- Cooking Basics: Some people choose to do a lot more cooking of basics, instead of buying processed and pre-made foods, they regularly bake their own bread & muffins and freeze; cook a large pot of beans, divide up and freeze for later instead of buying cans; Making their own broths & stock; etc… This one really isn’t me either. Although I do sometimes make my own broth and stock and freeze for a later date. Do you do this type of freezer cooking?
- Double batches: To me, freezer cooking simply means making a double batch of something and eating one tonight and freezing one for later. Example: I made lasagna recently and went ahead and made 2 smaller ones instead of a huge one and we had it for 2 meals, 2 weeks apart. I made Southwestern Stuffed peppers a few weeks ago and had made way too much of the filling. Spur of the moment I spread it out in a small baking dish, spread some salsa over the top, sprinkled with cheese and wrapped it up tight. Wrote in marker on the saran wrap what it was, temp. to bake it at and to add a crunchy tortilla chip topping. Popped it in the freezer and it will be dinner on Thursday. 🙂 I often cook meat and we use half of it today and I freeze half for later. Such as grilling pork tenderloin. Go ahead and slice it thinly, drop it into a baggy and add your favorite marinade. Freeze. Later, pull it out to thaw and add some sauteed veggies, cheese on a bun and you can make paninis. OR put it on a tortilla and make quesadillas. Do you cook this way sometimes?
Freezer Cooking: Why Do It?
Why do people do it? What is the point? Freezer cooking is a great way to save time & save money, as well as keep you away from the “Mommy, what’s for dinner?” dilemma!!
- Time: No matter how timid or involved you are with Freezer Cooking, it will save you time. Whether you double an occasional recipe 1-3 times a week and freeze 1 for later OR you do a full blown Freezer Cooking day and cook for the entire month- it is all going to save you time. You just need to decide what style is right for you and commit to it. Always having a few meals in the freezer as part of your weekly menu plan is a great thing. You can pull one out in the morning, put it in the frig to begin thawing and then pop it into the oven/microwave when you get home and have a home cooked meal on the table in 20-30 minutes, without much thought or effort.
- Money: Learning to stick to your version of Freezer Cooking, is going to save you money because you will have meals in the freezer to pull out any given day of the week, thus you are not stopping off to grab fast food. Sticking to a meal plan will save you money, as you know what you need to purchase and hopefully won’t be grabbing non-necessities. People who do a true Once a Month cooking session, usually also do a huge once a month shopping session and feel like it saves them money, as they are not going to the store all the time. I mostly stick to the best deals each week at Publix & Winn Dixie and then plan my menus based on what I have on hand. This saves me money!
- “What’s For Dinner?”: This is a horrid question for some people. That time of the day when it is getting close to dinner time and your family begins to ask and you don’t have an answer… Make a meal plan and stick to it. This will also help with your Freezer Cooking efforts. Whether your meal plan changes every week or every month OR you simply rotate the same basic plan & recipes over and over- do what works for you. BUT, put a meal plan into effect asap. Knowing that it is Taco Tuesday and your taco meat is already cooked and just needs thawed and some fresh veggies chopped, will make dinner time much easier to pull off. I write out my menu plan each week and post it on the blog, as well post it on the frig. Easy access.**Let me give you a few suggestions to put into place for a meal plan, if this is not your favorite area. Please leave a comment, with any others that you already use!
MEATLESS MONDAY (salads, pastas, etc…)
TACO TUESDAY (A variety of taco style meals)
THRIFTY THURSDAY (casseroles, 1 dish meals, etc…)
FUN FRIDAY (Get your kids involved! Have kid friendly meals.)
SALAD SATURDAY (as hearty as you like, but a salad based meal)
FREEZER COOKING: How To Do It?
How To Do It? part of Freezer Cooking. I guess the HOW will vary, depending on which style you choose to use.
- Remember that I usually prefer to double a recipe and use one and freeze one for later. How I do that is quite easy! I just try to make sure I have enough of the needed items so that I can double at least one recipe each week. My menu is based on what is in my pantry/freezer and what is on sale this week.
- If you choose to do a traditional Freezer Cooking Day, then you will want to plan ahead an entire months menu, a shopping list that goes along with that and has enough storage containers/dishes/bags. Your menu will be based on who had the best sales and what meats were at the best prices. Did you get chicken at a rock bottom price? Then you are gonna be making several meals that include that. You will probably want to do some prep. the night before, as you will spend all day on the actual cooking, cooling, dividing, storing, etc…
- If you choose to do bulk cooking of staples, then it will vary each week what you need to cook/bake and how much of each thing. This last week, I decided to make 2 batches of waffles and freeze them instead of buying the ones on BOGO. I made a batch at breakfast time and mixed up a different batch at lunchtime and it didn’t seem to take much time, as I was doing other things all the while.
Do you do any sort of Freezer Cooking? If not, would you be willing to try it? Let us know!