Who knew so many years ago when I bought a copy of Once-a-Month Cooking that the techniques described in that book would have such an impact on my life? Then I was pregnant with my first child and had no clue how vital a well-stocked freezer and OAMC (Once-a-Month-Cooking) would someday be to my life as MOM.
While I haven’t cooked up 30 meals at a time every month for the last thirteen years, it has been a regular practice for quite some time. Increasingly so as our family life becomes fuller and more complex.
There can be a lot of confusion about freezer cooking, especially if you’ve never tried it. Many misconceptions are afloat…. Isn’t it expensive? Don’t you get sick of casseroles every day? Doesn’t it taste funky?
Recently, I asked the crowd on Facebook to throw me their questions. They are listed here with my answers. I hope this helps you to understand a little bit more about this wonderful, tasty phenomenon called freezer cooking.
What is a freezer meal?
Freezer cooking is the practice of preparing several batches of multiple meals at one time and then freezing them for use later in the month. Preparing three lasagnas doesn’t take much longer than making one. So, you can save a lot of time with assembly-line cooking.
A freezer meal is just a collective term for a meal that you’ve made — either partially or entirely — ahead of time. A homemade frozen lasagna would be considered a freezer meal. But, so could a bag of marinated chicken breasts. A freezer meal doesn’t have to be a casserole. Think about the most time consuming parts of your favorite meals and see if you can make them ahead of time and freeze them.
Do you basically just cook a meal then freeze it?
It depends on what it is. Many things that I prepare for the freezer are not precooked. This would include casseroles, meats and chicken in marinades, meatloaf, and hamburger patties. I prefer to cook those on the day of serving. However, I do precook taco meat as well as shredded chicken, beef, and pork. Chili and pinto beans are other things that I cook, cool, and then freeze.
Do you have a list of recipes for the freezer?
What have you found to be the most space saving option for freezing a casserole….freeze it in a disposable aluminum pan? or line 9×13 with parchment and freeze the casserole first and then take it out of the 9×13 and put it in a large ziplock?
I prefer to store casseroles in glass pyrex dishes with foil or plastic lids. I don’t have experience with lining the pan, but my friend Katie loves to save space in her freezer that way.
Do you have a list of how long you can keep certain things frozen?
We generally eat things up within a month of preparation, but sometimes items carry over into the next month. You can safely store frozen food indefinitely. Reference this chart from the USDA for more information.
You mentioned some baking mixes that you put together and I was wondering where I could get those recipes?
I love my mixes! Oh my! I find that I am lost without a stash of mixes each month. They are great for quick breakfasts and I can tailor them to fit our food preferences. Here are some of our favorites: