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.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] taken an inventory of my freezer recently, I discovered that I have a lot of delicious meals yet to serve. Thursday or Friday I’ll be adding to that stock, but I’m so happy that there are quite [...]

  2. [...] of the month and my freezer is getting empty. Which is a good thing because March 31-April 2, 2010, FishMama and I will be hosting another big Freezer Cooking Extravaganza.What Is Freezer Cooking [...]

  3. [...] RSS feed or receive free updates via email. Thanks for visiting!One of the things that I love about freezer cooking, or once-a-month cooking as it is often called, is that I can make a multitude of homemade [...]

  4. [...] you know by now, freezer cooking is a way that I can stay one small step ahead of the game. Each month I cook up double and triple [...]

  5. [...] to do for your child’s next birthday party? Can’t figure out how to pay the bills, put food on the table, and stay in the black? Looking for some motivation to finally get your house clean and organized? [...]

  6. [...] I was way too distracted to do a whole lot of exciting things in the kitchen, even if it was just take something out of the freezer. Thankfully, my mom was here and was happy to treat us to a few meals of take-out. Thanks, [...]

  7. [...] if you should give Freezer Cooking a [...]

  8. [...] Once-a-Month cooking (or a variation of it)- Another useful thing to do is to make freezer meals, so that there can be some nights when dinner is as simple as thawing something in the morning and [...]

  9. [...] goal of freezer cooking is to save yourself time, money, and [...]

  10. [...] Thursday and Friday are kind of a blur. I spent a lot of time in my kitchen recently freezer cooking, starting on Thursday afternoon. But, we now have a freezer full of meals and meal components for [...]

  11. [...] look forward to sharing more budget living, freezer cooking, recipe swapping, cake decorating, homeschooling, home managing, grocery geeking adventures with [...]

  12. [...] a month to feed our family of 8. A lot of this is thanks to couponing and cooking from scratch. Freezer cooking has helped greatly to keep my costs low. And my pantry is starting to change a little. I realize, [...]

  13. [...] their wild Alaska Cod and Salmon and test their Cook It Frozen! ® (CIF) technique. You know me and my love affair with my freezer. How could I [...]

  14. [...] Freezer Cooking Days are here again! Mark your calendars for Friday, June 4 through Monday, June 7 ’cause we’ll be cooking up a storm. [...]

  15. [...] pay full price for, but would be happy to pick them up “on markdown.”  And since I love my freezer, I brought most of these items home to store for a later date. The best of both worlds…. [...]

  16. [...] Preparing for Freezer Cooking @ Life as Mom (she is an expert on this topic and this post is FULL of links to very helpful posts on every freezer-cooking related topic you can think of!) [...]

  17. [...] can be a lot of confusion about freezer cooking, especially if you’ve never tried it. Many misconceptions are afloat…. Isn’t it [...]

  18. [...] Freezer Cooking Primer [...]

  19. [...] past week my shopping revolved around freezer cooking. And though there have been some great sales on cereal and on produce, sales on ground beef and [...]

  20. [...] of my favorite ingredients for freezer cooking is chicken. And since our family prefers white meat, I often buy bone-in chicken breasts. While [...]

  21. [...] receive free updates via email. Thanks for visiting! So, how did you do? Was this your first time freezer cooking? Did you [...]

  22. [...] plan meals that can cook in the crockpot while you’re gone or that come together quickly. (Freezer meals are great for [...]

  23. [...] stocked my freezer. Thankfully, I participate monthly in FishMama’s Freezer Cooking Days so I already had a few dishes in my freezer.  I needed more than just a couple of meals, so for [...]

  24. [...] to subscribe to my RSS feed or receive free updates via email. Thanks for visiting!You know I love freezer cooking. It’s a great way for me to get a little ahead in this game we call “life as [...]

  25. [...] to subscribe to my RSS feed or receive free updates via email. Thanks for visiting!As you may know, freezer cooking has become a way of life for me. I started the practice of “once-a-month cooking” when [...]

  26. [...] Freezer cooking can save the day! [...]

  27. [...] work. But, who wants to stop in the middle of what they’re doing to fix a meal? That is where Freezer Cooking can [...]

  28. [...] wouldn’t think that this meal was a freezer meal, would you? But I marinated the chicken and froze it. The night before serving, I let it thaw in the [...]

  29. [...] a little daunting to a very pregnant mom-to-be, but I know what a tremendous blessing it is to walk to the freezer and pull out dinner.  Especially when you are in the last days of pregnancy or enjoying a new little one.  People are [...]

  30. [...] four good sized loaves. Feel free to stir in chopped nuts or chocolate chips, or both. Eat one and freeze the rest so that you can grab a loaf and go enjoy. See that cute little girl, she’s racing for it. [...]

  31. [...] Some people don’t like to have soup during the summer. But, I love it for a go-to lunch. This is one of my favorite soups, an all-time comfort food for me. During a recent bout with the flu, I whipped up a batch and froze the extra. It reheated really well in the microwave, so it may be a real keeper for freezer cooking. [...]

  32. [...] Subscribe to GCE in a reader or via email.This weekend my friend Crystal and I will be hosting Freezer Cooking Days. It’s a few days out of the month that we spend cooking and prepping a boatload of food so [...]

  33. [...] of my very best friends. As I expand my recipe horizons and play with more of our favorite dishes, freezer cooking has become more and more a way of life at our [...]

  34. [...] Freezer cooking has been a way to save me time and energy over the last 13 years. Not only do I spend less time in the kitchen each night, but I also don’t have to think too hard to find something for dinner. Usually. [...]

  35. [...] Freezer cooking has been a way to save me time and energy over the last 13 years. Not only do I spend less time in the kitchen each night, but I also don’t have to think too hard to find something for dinner. Usually. [...]

  36. [...] freezer meals for busy school days.  Well, let’s just say I sure do wish I had a freezer full of yummy [...]

  37. [...] a few hours and stock your freezer with meals to eat later in the month. (You knew I was going to say that, right?) Freezer meals are [...]

  38. [...] takes about 2 hours from the time I get the bread machine mixing and then formed into crusts. For bulk cooking, I usually get the bread machine going on one batch and then get my KitchenAid going on another [...]

  39. [...] meats lend themselves so well to freezer cooking. Whether precooked or not, meals made with ground meat do really [...]

  40. [...] can also simplify your meal plan by embracing breakfast for dinner, freezer cooking and one-pot wonders. Every night doesn’t have to include a gourmet [...]

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