And having a good freezer cooking plan is essential.
You can just haphazardly move about your kitchen, cooking up stuff. That is totally allowed. Do what works for you!
However, there are other ways that may better fit other personalities.
Yesterday I shared my plan for this month’s Freezer Cooking and teased you with photos of my planning sheets. These planning sheets are actually a reworking of some that I shared long ago. I realized that they made sense to me, but perhaps were not so helpful to others. FishPapa has been a great help in refining them. Since he knows almost nothing about planning for freezer cooking, he was the perfect one to tell me what needed to be changed.
But, to be honest, I’m afraid to share them because for non-worksheet people, these may be more overwhelming than helpful.
So, if you are not a spreadsheet, flowchart geek like me, this post may not be for you. Instead, check out Crystal’s more straightforward approach to how to plan your freezer cooking.
(I love it that we can each find ways to make it work for us!)
However, if white and black forms are your cup of tea, well, let’s talk.
I’ve explained before the basics of developing a freezer cooking plan. Let’s recap:
- Choose recipes you know your family likes.
- Create a grocery list.
- Consider how you will package your meals.
- Plan your prep chef list.
- Plan out the order in which you will cook your meals.
Those are the basic steps to planning a freezer cooking session. And they work in a pinch. If you’d like a little more details, here are those same steps, fleshed out a bit.
1. Choose recipes you know your family likes.
You may want to consult a list of what freezes well. Once I’ve chosen my recipes, I print each one out or make a photocopy of it. I also jot the recipe names down on my Master Freezer Cooking Planning Sheet. As I do so, I divide them according to the protein or main ingredient included. In this way, we’re grouping “like with like.” The end result is that when you get to cooking, you will prepare all the chicken recipes or all the beef recipes at one time, thus making use of common ingredients and speeding up your work. I also use a Main Ingredient Planning Worksheet to divide up the families of recipes.
2. Create a grocery list.
The reason that freezer cooking can save you time and money is that you’re going to prepare multiple batches at one time. Make your grocery list reflect that. Use Master Freezer Cooking Planning Sheet to keep track of your list.
3. Consider how you will package your meals.
There are lots of options: freezer bags, reusable foil containers, plastic containers, and baking dishes. Make sure you have enough supplies for each recipe you are preparing. If you need supplies, add those to your Master Freezer Cooking Planning Sheet.
4. Plan your Prep Chef List.
On the Main Ingredient Planning Worksheet group each family of recipes. For example, one would read, Freezer Cooking Planning Sheet: Chicken across the top. You would then walk through each of your chicken recipes, jotting down the ingredients needed as well as how those ingredients need to be prepped. At the bottom, you can tally all the items that you need to prep ahead of time. Make sure that you double check that needed ingredients and packaging items have been added to your grocery list. As you make your tallies, move those items to the Prep Chef List and Timeline. Here you’ll jot down the ingredients that need to be prepped in the prep chef list, giving you a working to do list.
5. Plan out the order in which you will cook your meals.
Use the Prep Chef List and Timeline to map out an order of meal assembly. Maybe you want to do the Chicken Recipes first and then the Beef. You work out what fits you best and write out a plan.
Consult your Master Freezer Cooking Planning Sheet.
Consult your Prep Chef List and Timeline.
8. Get Cooking.
I realize that this appears highly detailed. So, feel free to ask questions. It isn’t as complicated as it seems. I don’t think. Well, we’ll see….