Freezer Cooking: November

Freezer cooking has been a way of life for me for quite some time. My friend Jessika and I first tackled “once a month cooking” when I was 8 months pregnant with the first FishKid almost fifteen years ago.

Yeah, I’m old.

And there were seasons in my early years of motherhood when it wasn’t really a habit. I might do a cooking session one month and wait six months before I did another. Now it’s a way of life.

For the last few months, I’ve used shorter, power cooking sessions to get the job done. But, now that the busier fall days are upon us, I realized last weekend that I just needed to suck it up and do a Big Un. I planned the entire month’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and then I set to work to make ahead as much as I could.

If I’m going to keep up with all that’s on my plate, I want dinnertime to be easy, tasty, and budget-friendly. “Make ahead and freeze” is my answer to that.

veggie patties from the freezer – yum!

The Plan

I went into this month’s cooking session knowing that most of the dinners I’d planned for the month would more than likely be cooked the day of or taken from my existing freezer stash. I already have marinated chicken and tri-tip stashed in the freezer and enough red sauce to feed a small nation. All the suppers on November’s meal plan feature the crockpot, the grill, the pasta pot, or the pizza pan. Easy, right?

So, I wasn’t as worried about dinner as I was the rest of the day. I planned a breakfast bar as well as a regular lunch rotation. These are very flexible meals that can be varied based on the seasonal fruits and vegetables that we work into the mix.

Since dinners were already done, I focused on a freezer cooking plan to handle breakfast and lunch. Here it is:

November Freezer Cooking Plan

Cranberry Orange Granola

Instant Oatmeal Packets

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes bread dough (stored in the fridge)

Mix and Match Muffin Mix

Pancake Mix

cooked and frozen Pancakes

Waffle Mix

cooked and frozen waffles

Biscuit Mix

Cornbread Mix

Cinnamon Crumb Coffeecake Mix (recipe coming)

Frozen Burritos

Seasoned Pinto Beans

Let’s Get Cooking

I spent about three or four hours puttering in my kitchen last weekend. FishChick3 was up before the sun. Therefore, I was as well. So, I started on a batch of granola. This recipe is a surefire way to get your house smelling divine. It also makes a great gift.

And can I just take a moment to say a word about this new pan? It rocks! I bought a boxed set (half-sheet with lid, rack, and quarter-sheet) at Costco and I love them. The half-sheet holds my silpat mat just perfectly. I’m going back for more. No more warps-and-wiggles-in-the-oven-kind-of-pans for me!

Then, I assembled the pancake mixes and prepped a double batch to cook for breakfast. Whoever was awake before the pancakes were all cooked and cooled enjoyed pancakes for breakfast. I wrapped the cooled pancakes in stacks of eight in plastic wrap and then placed the stacks in a gallon size freezer bag. While they aren’t as tasty as freshly baked, they will make for quick breakfasts on school days.

I moved on to the waffles and did the same thing. Whoever was awake before I stashed the waffles, had waffles for breakfast. You see a trend here?

Ditto with the granola. Hubs awoke in time to eat warm granola while it cooled on the countertop. I had to hurry to have something to store!

Then I worked on the rest of the mixes until I ran out of sugar. Hit pause until I can run to the store.

Later that day I finished off the baking mixes and assigned jobs to my able-bodied children. FishBoy9 stirred the bread dough while FishBoy10 sorted the beans.

Once the bread dough was done with its first rising, I stashed that in the fridge.

The beans soaked overnight and cooked the next day in the crockpot. Beans are rather independent creatures. They don’t need much fuss.

Once they were done, I quickly assembled two dozen burritos, portioned out the rest of the beans in freezer containers, and called it quits. This really does not take much time at all, especially if you buy the cheese pregrated or use a food processor. These were bean and cheese burritos making them super quick to fix. Watch the video if you’re not sure how to fold a burrito.

Breakfast and a few lunches are handled for the next month! (See our meal plan if you don’t believe me.) Here are some of our goods for the next month. I’ll supplement them with fresh fruit, hard cooked eggs, yogurt and the link. Head here to read about our breakfast bar.

Going forward, I’ll be looking at this month’s sales with a mind toward December’s freezer cooking. Basically, I’m planning, buying, and cooking a month in advance. Our November meal plan is set, so as sales come through this month, I’ll be thinking toward what to do with those items next month.

Freezer Cooking Day

Freezer Cooking Day is evolving once again. I’ll be posting on the first Saturday of each month, specifically about freezer cooking. Join me and share your freezer cooking adventures, link up your own freezer cooking post or recipe, ask questions in the comments section, and otherwise share with us what works well for you and your family to have homecooked meals without a ton of work.

The Cookbook is entering some of the final stages of production. I’ve got another round of edits later this month. I’m so excited to share it with you! There are over 100 new recipes that you’ve never seen. And I’m almost afraid to tease you with them since it will still be a short while before you can go buy the book. I hope you will! I think you’re gonna love it!

Well, that’s all I got. I can’t wait to see how you’re using freezer cooking to help your “life as mom.”

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. Thank you for the continued meal inspiration ideas :) Hope to do some freezer prep this weekend!

  2. I’ve just recently started freezer cooking. My sister joined me yesterday and together we ended up with 20 dinners and 4 breakfasts in about 3 hours (10 for each family). We followed Once a Month Mom’s whole foods menu and made Berry Breakfast Cake, Crock Pot French Dips, Beef Bourgingon, Chicken Parmesan, Burlattas (burrito/enchiladas), and Bacon Mac. I also made Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes for us. Still on the list is a brunch casserole, soup, paninis, risotto, and Cranberry Roast Chicken w/Sweet Potatoes.

  3. Mmmm…those veggie patties look great! Cookbook recipe?

  4. So funny! I just bought those pans at Costco this week for my freezer cooking bout, and I love, love, love them! I also made some waffles. The problem is, three days after my mini freezer cooking day, the goods are half gone!

  5. Even though I am single and live alone I freeze leftovers and cook extras when I can, so I don’t need to cook everyday. Also, having something almost ready and a plan lessens the temptation for stopping for fastfood on the way home.

  6. I know I’m not the only one to purchase 40 lbs of chicken recently, but I would love to hear what others did with it. I wasn’t mentally prepared with a plan for 40 lbs of chicken, and my kitchen wasn’t prepared either. So, I ended up with 2 packs of marinating Teriyaki Chicken, and had 4 packs of chicken breasts; then I took the easy route and put the rest in 6 gallon bags to deal with later.

  7. While the thought of planning this many meals in advance gives me major anxiety I also love reading about how you do it. It’s downright inspirational. I’m intrigued…..very, very intrigued. :)

    xo
    cortnie

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Well, you have to tell yourself that everything is subject to change. You’re not marrying it. Just getting a plan in place. :)

  8. I really enjoy your site and I do small batch freezer cooking as I can. I have been moving towards menu planning for longer periods of time. Now my daughter, almost 12, has told me she really wants to move to a vegetarian diet. She has never really liked meat so this is not a surprise and this is not the first time we have discussed this. Do you know of any vegetarian oriented/menu planning blogs? I am just starting to look but know you have many friends. And I will be looking to modify some of the things I currently prepare. Thank you for all you do Jessica.

    • Shannon,

      We aren’t vegetarians, but we have enjoyed the different bean and rice type meals on this site, as well as the vegetarian menu at Once a Month Mom.

  9. Nancy Lundy says:

    Today I made 28 personal-size pizza crusts and 32 granola bars for the freezer. I’m still a bit intimidated by a whole cooking day, but I’m working up to it. :-)

  10. I made 3 soups today (and cookies, but I have a feeling those won’t make it to the freezer). Tomorrow afternoon I’ll make some breads and pizza dough. Maybe I’ll make some more cookies too.

  11. Where can I find the recipe for the veggie patties from the freezer? They do look better than most that I have found recipes for. Thank you for this wonderful blog. I have just recently discovered you but am very grateful for the wisdom you offer.

  12. I couldn’t link up, but I double nearly everything I make for dinner and constantly stock my freezer. I share my weekly freezer cooking menu every Monday and have a handful of power cooking sessions during the month. It’s been a lifesaver with a family of six. I wanted to share how I microwave the wet ingredients for granola for 2 minutes (watching it closely so it doesn’t boil over) and mix it quickly, yet thoroughly with a stand mixer. Then while I’m baking something else, I stick it in the last 10 minutes. Thanks for sharing your great tips!

  13. Could you post or link to that veggie patty recipe? It looks tasty, and I’d love to make homemade ones instead of the store ones.

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