Preparing for Freezer Cooking

The other day I emptied my freezer and took stock. Yes, I was a little lax in keeping up on my freezer inventory sheet this past month, so I wasn’t completely sure what all was there. Now I know what we have and what we need. Lo and behold, there are 20 meals already to go for this tail end of March and into April. I like this alternating “cook-like-a-crazy-woman-one-month” and then”breeze-through-the-next-month” kind of freezer cooking. So, I think May is my turn to be crazy ’cause this go-round I’m going to take it easy and work on breakfasts, lunches, and a few side dishes.

Feeding eight people three times a day is still a fair amount of work, so I guess “breezing through” might be a little exaggeration. But, at least I won’t have to shell out a lot of cash on main dishes.

Starting on Wednesday, March 31 and continuing on through Friday, April 2, my friend Crystal from Money Saving Mom and I will be sharing our latest freezer cooking adventures. Feel free to cook along with us or just wield your spoon vicariously through us. We’ve both found that making this a regular practice helps us save time, money, and headaches, not to mention a few pounds in avoiding fast food on crazy nights.

Freezer cooking is a wonderful way for you to have convenience items on hand that fit your budget as well as your tastes. If you’re new to freezer cooking and would like to learn about it, I have a little light reading for you to do.

Freezer Cooking Basics – a brief discussion of convenience foods and my rationale for why freezer cooking will benefit you as well as the basic “how-to”

Freezer Cooking Survival Guide – helps for the big cooking day

Be Prepared! – a pre-cooking day checklist

How to Plan a Freezer Cooking DayMoneySavingMom’s tips as well as free downloadable planning sheets

Planning for Freezer Cooking: A Detailed Approach – includes free downloadable planning sheets

Making Freezer Cooking Work for You – tips and encouragement for those who don’t want to eat casseroles all month long

How to Have a Freezer Cooking Day if You Don’t Have a Deep Freezer – vlog and tips for making the most of your refrigerator/freezer

A Freezer Alarm Could Save Your Bacon – protect your investment with an alarm

How to Pack Food in Freezer Bags and Reduce Freezer Burn – a video demonstration of how to seal foods more airtight without a fancy machine. (Do not use this method on raw meats or eggs.)

4 Freezer Cooking Cookbooks – some helpful resources

What Can You Freeze? – my list of what works for me

Shopping for Freezer Cooking – how I approach shopping

Freezer Cooking on the Cheap – ways to save make this an economical approach to meal planning

URS: Make-Ahead Meals – a great collection of recipes from readers

How to Cook with Kids on a Big Cooking Day – lessons learned from the trenches

How to Keep Track of Your Freezer Inventory – yes, I’ll be practicing what I preach this month!

Freezer Cooking Storage and Methods of Packaging

Foil-Wrapped Freezer Meals

Be Your Own Prep-Chef

As for me, I’ll be sharing my cooking plan early next week as well as some Holiday Meal tips and how you can even do some pre-prep for the feasts you may have in the coming weeks.

Are you “freezer cooking” yet? Why or why not?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the freezer cooking links for newbies like me! I’ve had the best of intentions to freezer cook but haven’t started yet (mainly because there is never anyone to keep an eye on my two toddlers while I would be cooking like a mad woman for a day!) But it sounds oh so fun! Looking forward to seeing your menu ideas in the next few days.

    • @Holly T.,

      I have two small kids and no one to watch them as well. What I do is instead of doing a huge cooking day once a month I toss one or two meals worth of food in the freezer as I go. We are a small family so this is easy to do and it means we don’t have to eat the same stuff three nights a week because I made a huge pot. It’s not that much extra work, or any, really, it just requires a little more organization in terms of keeping track of what’s there and how old it is.

      • @Beth,
        Gah, I realized I was really unclear. My husband had major surgery this week so I’m a little fried.

        I make dinner like normal, usually in the crock pot, and freeze the leftovers. If I do this twice a week I can alternate fresh cooked with frozen foods every week.

        • @Beth,

          Beth: hope your hubby is recovering well. Thanks for the advice – I usually just serve the leftovers for three nights but stocking them away in the freezer sounds like a much better route. Thanks!

        • @Beth,

          I love to cook and we get a little depressed eating only two different meals during the week! Freezing stuff alleviates this. :)

  2. I took inventory yesterday and we also have quite a few meals that haven’t been eaten. So we’re going to be breezing through this month’s cooking day with just a few things to cook up. Love that!!!

  3. I love freezer cooking- but I must convince my husband that we need a deep freeze before I can tackle the venture again! I do love taking a few freezer meals to friends after they have a baby, big move, etc. It’s so nice to give them a gift that keeps on giving :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Au contraire! I just did some moving around as an experiment and was able to put 20 meals in my regular side by side with tons of room to spare. Watch for the vlog this week!

  4. I need a deep freezer before I can start this type of cooking, but we are planning on buying one this summer. I can’t wait to get started.

  5. I use this link to a free downloadable freezer inventory and keep it on my freezer/fridge as I cross off things I use. http://organizedhome.com/household-notebook/printable-pages
    She has lots of other resources as well. I’d love to work with you and Crystal sometime talking about freezer mission meals once I have our fourth baby (coming in 4 weeks).

  6. I’m definitely going to give it a try this month, even if I just stash a few things. Hopefully: waffles, 5 grain pancake mix, cinnamon rolls, and some different meats in bags with marinade. I definitely need to clean out my freezer, I’m sure there’s stuff in there that I don’t know what it is or how long it’s been there. And I can probably do some consolidating as well to make more space.

  7. I totally am this month! I freezer cooked last month for the first time, and it was so worth it. I loved the ease of the cooking and the less dishes throughout the month. It was totally worth a day or two of craziness. I’m prepping to do it again! Oh, and I don’t have a big freezer either – still fantastic. I can’t wait to see what MSM has to say on that subject.

  8. One thing I am interested in learning is how long various meals will keep in the freezer. I have the information for freezing meats, etc. but not when you turn something into a meal. And thanks for all of the helpful information.

  9. Ah! I was supposed to be freezer cooking tomorrow but my day was hijacked by a violin recital up in OC. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but it blows my whole day. :/

    Next weekend is Easter, the next Daphnie’s birthday……. Ok, April 17th is my next free weekend. So now I just need to start getting ready. Woo Hoo!

  10. I also have a lot of meals left in the freezer, but I plan to add a few more plus make chicken stock and breakfast items. I also need to take a good look at my stockpile because I have more pasta and canned tomatoes right now than I know what to do with!

    I love seeing what the veterans are making. I always find at least a couple new recipes every month just during Freezer cooking day.

  11. I’ve been Freezer cooking since late Spring of 2006 when Baby 3 was due. Seemed necessary to do if anyone was going to eat when I had three little kids home all day during the hot summer…and I’ll never go back. Five of us eat for on average of $125/week. It’s nice to sit down once a week to plan meals. The hour before dinnertime (aka the bewitching hour when EVERYONE needs SOMETHING from me) very tolerable and non-yelling :) Love your site!

  12. I was going to add my comment about lack of an extra freezer but see you aren’t buying that one! I do have my freezer chock full of prepared bfast items and some that I’ve made and frozen (mini pancakes, waffles), frozen bread dough, ckn, beef and kielbasa bought at great prices and frozen, popicles, ice cream, veggies, and then marrow bones for the dog, so honestly not seeing how the heck I can manage to put one more item in there but I’ll wait for your next installment!

  13. I did a few dinners last week and I want to tackle baked goods this week. I’m like you though — I still have a lot left over from last month, so I’ll kind of take it easy this month.

  14. You and money saving mom have inspired my sister and I to do once a month freezer cooking and we LOVE IT!! Thanks for all the resources and recipes-it helps so much. We’ve only done it twice so we are still learning as we go and taking lots of notes, but since we both work (me-from a home office part time, her full time out of the home), it saves our family’s dinner. We eat a lot less “bad” food and more homecooked and it feels good to know it’s in the freezer! Plus I spend a lot less on groceries. THANK YOU!!!

  15. I stumbled across this blog post from the Keeper of the Home and I’m so glad! I’ve been doing the freezer cooking for several years, (even when I had a small side by side fridge, so it can be done!) but I found myself out of the habit the past several months and I regret it. I was just thinking yesterday that I need to get back on track with this. Perfect timing!

    It’s such a great way to have meals on hand and I love not having to think about my meals. :)

  16. I do freezer cooking but I do it in small bundles. For instance-I’ll make 3 dozen bean burritos from homemade refried beans one week and freeze them all. Later in the week I’ll make blueberry muffins and freeze them…..then tortillas. I don’t make main dishes but just quick easy foods.

  17. Hi,
    I am in charge of food in our household. I find that by cooking meals like chilli con carne, beef goulash, and curries in huge quantities, and then freezing them in lots of plastic containers, the cost of an average meal works out really cheap by comparison to ready meals.

    They are also so much more healthier too.

  18. Wow! What a terrific source of information about Freezer Cooking. I too am a huge fan of Freezer Cooking and have my favorite recipes that I always double or even tripple the quantity – some to eat that night and the rest to freeze to enjoy later. I look forward to reading more.

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