Enjoy Good Food & Save Time with Freezer Cooking

This week on LifeasMOM is all about Loving Life — finding ways to help each of us enjoy life a little more. 

Since I am such a glutton, er, foodie, getting a great meal on the table is one of my great joys in life. But, I also parent six children, teach them at home, enjoy time with my husband, and otherwise, have many pressing obligations that keep me from spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like.

And so, freezer cooking is one way in which I fill the gap between my love of food and my lack of time. By cooking up big batches of different dishes and storing them in the freezer, I buy myself some extra time. We get the best of both worlds in some respects.

Each month, LifeasMOM readers share what they’ve been cooking up and stashing for later. Over the weekend, Katie shared some great ideas for how real foods and freezer cooking can work together and readers shared advice for a new mom wanting to start freezer cooking. I also shared ideas for some Bake and Freeze Valentines.

Today’s the day to report back with your progress.

Freezer Cooking for me was a multi-part affair this time round. Particularly so since I had such an ambitious plan. Here’s out it played out for me, stretched out over a few days’ time.

Session One
– Start roasts in the two crockpots
– Start beans cooking on the stovetop
– Prepare chicken in marinades and freeze
– Take a break while the meat and beans cooked
Shred the beef
– Portion the beans

Results: five dinners of shredded beef, three dinner portions of beans, five dinners of chicken marinades

Session Two
– Start the red sauce in one crockpot
– Start a chicken cooking in another crockpot
– Make stuffed chicken breasts

Results: 1 chicken lasagna (a surprise entry), 5 pints of red sauce, 3 dinners of stuffed chicken breast, 2 dinners of cooked chicken

Things that never happened:
Pizza Kits
Scones
Twice Baked Potatoes
Baking Mixes

Apparently, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. For a variety of reasons I wasn’t able to pull off those other items in the time I had at my disposal. I’ll do a few more mini sessions in the next week. But, for now, we’ve got the makings of 24 meals.

That should make life a lot easier this month and these meals and meal components fit very well into my meal planning for the month.

How did YOU do?

Share with us your latest freezer cooking adventures. Leave a comment with your cooking results or leave the link.

Curious about freezer cooking? Consider purchasing my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore. It’s chock full with over 200 freezer-friendly recipes, planning pages, shopping lists, cooking plans, and basic and advanced how-to’s to making freezer cooking work for any home, family, and lifestyle.

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Comments

  1. I did better than I thought this month, I was able to tackle it on time, and get myself on track for Feb.- Thanks :)

    http://www.homemakerhandguide.com/freezer-cooking

  2. I tackled Once a Month Cooking this month, so I’m having a great time pulling about 3 meals a week out of the freezer. It’s awesome. There are several listed in this week’s meal plan.

  3. I managed to complete everything I planned this month. Here’s my update:
    http://www.frugalandfocused.com/2011/02/february-11-freezer-cooking-update.html

  4. Forgot to ask, what did you think of the new red sauce recipe you mentioned that you were trying?

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Janet, well, the jury is still out. It’s a more veggie based sauce and I used a spice mix my sister made. But, the flavor of celery seed in her mix was really strong. So I’m not sure I love it.

  5. I focused on meal kits this month. Really pre-cooked the proteins to make dinner prep faster. I cooked 4 lbs ground turkey and portioned it up and froze them. Then put 3 lbs of chicken breast into the crock pot to cook up and cube for the freezer. And turned the leftover bones and skin into to homemade stock. I still need to work on some black beans, but I’ve got about 8 cups of Great Northern beans and 6 cups of Pinto beans in the freezer now.
    Here’s the monthly plan: http://familystampingfood.blogspot.com/2011/02/monthly-meal-plan-february-2011.html

    Thanks for sharing what you do Jessica. It helps the rest of us figure out what we can do to make life a little easier. :)

  6. I did the chicken in marinades this weekend & took one of the Asian ones to a friend in need of a little easier supper. I can’t wait to pull one out!

  7. We started out eat from the freezer challenge a bit late, so this week is the tail end for us. Here’s our menu, linked up with recipes!

    http://www.livingwiththreeboys.com/2011/02/batch-cooking-menu-plan.html

  8. You did AWESOME!!! I’m always so impressed at how well you do with freezer cooking. The only thing I have managed this week is an extra batch of mashed potatoes for the freezer. Better than nothing I guess. :)

  9. Here are my results. I didn’t cook as much as normal because we were having a pantry challenge, but I love having the freezer stocked again! http://www.momsplans.com/2011/01/freezer-cooking-wrap-up-2/

  10. I didn’t get 24 made (wow, that’s a lot!) but I did get 14 freezer meals made up and 1 for dinner tonight! :)

    http://memoirsofahopefulhousewife.blogspot.com/2011/02/february-freezer-cooking.html

  11. Denise C. says:

    When you make your chicken marinades & use acidic items (limes, lemons etc.) Does it “cook” the chicken? I’ve had that happen to me before, when I’ve left the meat out to marinade, not freeze.

  12. I just started a blog and freezer cooking (and a shout out to you Jessica) was my first post

    http://familyfoodfrugality.blogspot.com/

  13. I just did up some ground beef, taco meat, and a few baked goods. It will make a HUGE difference later in the month!

    http://gettingusthere.blogspot.com/2011/02/freezer-cooking-even-mini-session-makes.html

  14. I have a question about your 1 chicken providing 2 meals worth of good for 8 people… How does that work? Even if I was using the chicken as a complement in something like pasta or for tacos, I could NEVER pull that off! It’s just me, my husband and our 4 year old daughter. I’m 5’2″ 108 lbs, the hubs is 6′ 190 (he goes to the gym 4 days a week, so it’s muscle), and our daughter is 75th percentile for height and 31 lbs (25% weight). When I roast a chicken, we barely have enough left for 1, yes 1 of us to have a single piece left for lunch! How do you do it?!?!?!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Michelle, well, I buy the biggest chickens possible, usually over 5 pounds. That’s the start. Then, I guess I should qualify it by saying that those weren’t “full chicken dinners” that I produced. But enough chicken for me to make a soup, quesadillas or maybe chili. I stretch it.

      If we have chicken just to have chicken, there are lots of side dishes and I usually have enough for dinner plus 1-2 cups of bits to add into something.

  15. http://wholesomewomanhood.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/freezer-cooking-update/

    I’m so glad that I have the majority of the work done on eleven meals!! That is going to make this month’s meals so much easier!!

  16. Today I was able to precook all my meat that I plan on using this week…Grass fed Bison – made them into burger patties, my homemade grass fed beef/lamb meatballs with bell peppers and ground flax seed, and my pork sausage for breakfast was fried in coconut oil, then I froze it all. I then made buttermilk biscuits and flash froze them all…then when they were nice and cold, I bagged them all. It makes for a quick breakfast/lunch meal.

  17. thanks so much for the wonderful recipes. LOVE the red sauce. i have used it for lasagna, spaghetti and pizza. my family and guests have enjoyed it, too. i have even passed on the recipe. i really appreciate your hard work and inspiration.

  18. I make a variety of items, but I cook or eat on the same night and freeze the rest for later like these beef sandwiches. I’m also having a field day with the Artisan dough-making nearly all my breads homemadde b/c it’s so easy.
    http://cookandplay.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/italian-beef-sandwiches/

  19. Here is the link to my freezer cooking accomplishment for last weekend! Enjoy!
    http://workingonthesimplelife.blogspot.com/2011/02/freezer-cooking-results-for-february-5.html

  20. Here’s my results for the month:
    http://frugallyblonde.blogspot.com/2011/02/february-freezer-cooking.html

    I was excited to actually get some real freezer cooking done this month, for the first time since my 5 month old was born! Adjusting to life with 3 little ones has been a challenge – hats off to you with your 6, Jessica! I didn’t get as much done as I might have liked, but it was a good start. Next month, I’ll try for a little more!

  21. My grand plans fell totally flat this weekend. 4 hours of sitting at the lacrosse field and a wicked sinus infection resulted in NADA in the freezer cooking department for me this weekend. I plan on attacking my oringinal plan this weekend.

    http://lovebeinginthekitchen.blogspot.com/2011/02/freezer-cooking-february.html

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