Freezer Cooking Days: A Workout to Be Thankful For Later

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Do you have any tasks on your to-d0 list that are hard to be motivated for, but you’re glad you did it when you’re done? Like exercising? Cleaning the house? Freezer cooking?

As much as a I love cooking, even freezer cooking, this month’s freezer cooking session was hard to get motivated for. I am apt to bite off more than I can chew, and this time was no different. But, I had to do it.

  1. Meal prep is getting more difficult without some pre-made items on hand. Read: I’m tempted to eat out more.
  2. I know that a little elbow grease now buys me a lot of time later. Days later I’ll be glad I did.
  3. My family wants to eat.

You see, this past weekend I ventured to the other side of the country on a very rare, but exciting blogging/homeschooling trip. Not only did I get to hang out with bloggers I love (Tsh, Mandi, Heidi, and Stephanie), but I also got to meet the woman partly responsible for my homeschooling lifestyle, one of my homeschooling heroes, Susan Wise Bauer.

Thanks to the great folks at Peace Hill Press, my lovely husband, and some frequent flyer miles, I was able to leave for four days and enjoy a lot of learning and talking and learning some more. This week now that I’m exhausted and a little bit behind on things, freezer cooking will help me catch up! My week’s meals are all made, so I won’t have to cook!

More, of course, on the trip later this month.

Getting the freezer filled.

As I mentioned already, when I set forth on this adventure, my list was a little ambitious. (You knew that about me, right?) The weather (gloomy), the grocery stores (missing things), and a few in-house squabbles (those kids ;)) were all working against me for a time, so I had to push through at a number of points.

I also had to shave my plan a little when I ran into snafus, but I pulled it off. In six hours, I got a lot accomplished. In the midst of it, I had to remind myself that it would be worth it in the long run. And it was or it will be.

Here’s what I did last week before I left town:

I made a plan.

Included in my cookbook are some great planning pages to help you plot a plan for your cooking session. I photocopied those on which to jot down notes and figure out a grocery list as well as a cooking plan.

I chose meals that I know my kids like and that would be easy for anyone to reheat. I also included a fair number of things to grill. My original plan looked something like this:

  • Marinated Chicken and Pork Tenderloin
  • Lasagna
  • Red Sauce with Sausage
  • Frozen Burritos
  • Lawnmower Taco
  • Queso Fundido
  • Chile Verde Enchiladas
  • Vanilla Maple Granola
  • Cranberry Bread
  • Double Chocolate Toffee Cookies
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Instant Oatmeal Packets

Went Shopping

I decided that despite the sales I was not going to traipse around to a lot of stores, especially prior to a big trip. Before my cooking day, I had already made stops at two stores, so I made do with what was available at Costco and Vons.

That meant that I had to switch my plan a little bit mainstream. I bought pork strips instead of chuck roast due to pricing at Vons. I omitted the tenderloin from the plan altogether since Costco didn’t have any.

You can see the details of my shopping and how the costs broke down over here.

Started Cooking

I did a double batch of granola the night before my big cooking session, and got a chicken and beans cooking in the morning. I didn’t actually start my big cooking until the afternoon — after I took a nap!

Once I did start, I just kept pushing. Yes, there were interruptions: kids fought or needed something, the dishwasher repair man came, and you name it. But, I knew that I was committed once I had purchased the groceries. My refrigerator was bursting at the seams. Since I like to see bare shelves in my fridge, that was the motivation I needed to push through.

When I’ve got cold stuff that needs to be used, my heart can’t rest until it is ready for the freezer.

Cooking went something like this:

  1. Start the red sauce and sausage.
  2. Season and cool the Homemade Pinto Beans.
  3. Bone and chop the chicken.
  4. Shred cheeses.
  5. Roll burritos and chill in the refrigerator.
  6. Cook the ground beef.
  7. Assemble the Lawnmower Tacos.
  8. Shred the pork.
  9. Fry the tortillas.
  10. Assemble the Chile Verde Enchiladas.
  11. Wash dishes.
  12. Cook one pan of Lawnmower Taco and take a dinner break.
  13. Cook the sausage.
  14. Assemble the Queso Fundido.
  15. Wash dishes.
  16. Go to a hockey game.
  17. Make the Cranberry Bread.
  18. Make the cookies.
  19. Wash more dishes.
  20. Go to bed.
As you can see a few things like lasagna and marinated meats didn’t happen. I opted out of those for a number of reasons. Here’s what six hours of cooking did produce:
The other items would have taken only a little more time and a little more push. But, I decided: enough is as good as a feast.

Cleaned Up

Yes, my kitchen was a wreck, but I had at least 20 meals accounted for! Whoohoo!

Since I did some major dejunking a few months ago, I had fewer cooking pots and utensils than I have used in the past. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While I certainly had to stop and wash dishes more often, I didn’t have the massive accumulation of dishes that I have in previous cooking sessions.

Regardless of the mess, as a Facebook reader pointed out, “One day of hard work, and a huge mess for several days of easy meals…..” Yes, my sentiments exactly. While our nights won’t be completely dish-free, we should be free of dirty pots and pans for the most part.

Have you done any freezer cooking lately?

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

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. So if you happened to have a ridiculous amount of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer…what would YOU make with them?

    I’m thinking, so far…

    Chicken Divan casserole
    Chicken enchiladas

    And that’s it. I’m original. Thoughts on additions? My husband doesn’t like mushrooms. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Ugh. I’ve been majorly slacking in this area and need to get going again because it makes such a difference when there are easy meals to pull from the freezer. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. carol says

    Thank you for your blog. You are very inspiring. Is there a cookbook you would recommend for someone who has never done this before but desperately needs to do this?

  4. Bitts says

    I like your new shorter hairdo! What are you using the cranberry bread for — is that breakfast, or hostess gifts, or snacking?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Thanks! I’ve had this ‘do for about a year now. So easy!

  5. Thanks for sharing! Even though I’ve been cooking for years and freezing, the concept of actual freezer cooking is new to me. I’ve put up some dump crockpot meals as I still work outside the home. Looking to try some new beef or chicken easy meals in 30 mins. I prefer beef, while DH prefers chicken!

  6. when you say Red sauce is that Marinara type sauce for pasta or a mexican/enchilada type sauce?

  7. You ARE ambitious!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Still trying to clear out the freezers to give it a try!

  8. Do you use flour or corn for your burriots?

  9. Robin says

    Would you please share your recipe for freezer-friendly cranberry bread. I only have banana bread in my repertoire and think my family would probably enjoy a change.

    • Jessica Fisher says

      It’s actually in my cookbook. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Wait for it?

      • Robin says

        Thanks, Jessica. I guess I have no choice but to wait. When does it come out again? Will it be available for Kindle?

        • Jessica Fisher says

          It will be out in late September, and yes, it will be on Kindle.

  10. Danielle says

    Didn’t do any freezer cooker, but I made Lawnmower Tacos (with your taco seasoning mix) for dinner tonight and they were a huge hit, thanks for the recipe.

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