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How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan with Your Own Recipes

Want to create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes, but not sure how to do it? Follow this easy step-by-step method to plan your next freezer cooking session.

How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan with Your Own Recipes | Life as Mom

I’ve officially been freezer cooking for two decades now. Please don’t click away because you think I’m an old lady and no longer one of the hip chicks. Surely you watched that teen movie that proclaimed how a woman hits her prime in her 40s. Yes, it’s true. Those two decades of adulthood behind me mean that I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a ton.

You can trust me on the freezer cooking front.

Freezer cooking wasn’t “new” when I first heard about it in the 90s. I remember my mom’s friend Rita bringing us freezer meals when I was a kid in the 70s. They were really good, too!

But, the practice of cooking to freeze has changed with the times. We’ve got a whole new world of flavor profiles to choose from, a wide range of kitchen gadgets to work with, and a huge realm of technology to make the process quicker and easier.

Freezer cooking is a way that home cooks can prepare for the coming weeks by making their own homemade convenience foods.

  • Don’t feel like cooking?  Let everyone choose his favorite soup from the freezer.
  • Have unexpected company? Grab a few quarts of homemade pasta sauce and prepare a pasta feed for a crowd.
  • Looking for something quick to eat on the run? Pull some burritos from the freezer.

Not only will freezer cooking enable you eat better, but it will also save you money as you avoid high priced takeout.

If you’re new to freezer cooking, or bulk cooking as it is sometimes called, rest assured that it is not difficult. You can very easily spend a few hours cooking up several recipes in quick succession and have weeks worth of meals at the ready. In fact, the internet is full of freezer cooking plans and programs to help you fill the freezer.

For instance,

  • Watch this video if you want some simple get-started tricks.
  • Grab some of my FREE freezer cooking plans here.
  • Browse my freezer-friendly recipes here.

You’ll get the hang of it in no time! And once you do, you may want to branch out and create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes.

How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan and Save Time

How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan with Your Own Recipes | Life as Mom

1. Download this Freezer Cooking Planner.

This month, I’m offering this Freezer Cooking Planner free to new subscribers of the Life as Mom newsletter.

Subscribe here and download the planner right away!

If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, don’t worry. I’ll include a link to the planner in your weekly newsletter this month. You won’t miss a thing.

So, once you’ve got your planner, you’re ready to create a freezer cooking plan.

2. Decide what proteins you’re going to use.

My usual mode of operation these days is to work my cooking plans around a common protein. Using common ingredients or recipes that build on one another is a great way to maximize the time benefits of batch cooking. I find this to be a good way to make use of good grocery sales as well as save time.

Choose your proteins based on what you already have on hand or what’s on sale at the store. Fill in the Freezer Cooking Master Plan sheet (see your planner) with the type of protein and the recipes you want to use featuring that protein.

3. Create your grocery list.

As you’re going through the recipes, jot down which groceries you’ll need in the groceries column on the Freezer Cooking Master Plan sheet. Be sure to check the pantry, fridge, and freezer before you write it on your list. You may already have what you need.

How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan with Your Own Recipes | Life as Mom

4. Figure out your prep work.

Your cooking session will go much more smoothly if you prep your veggies and other ingredients in advance. Fill out the Freezer Cooking Planning Worksheet and make some tallies at the bottom of what you need to precook/prepare, chop/slice, or grate.

5. Plan your attack.

Next transfer some of those tallies over to the Prep-Chef List. In the timeline list the recipes in the order that makes the most sense for your cooking session. Some recipes will be part of other recipes.

For instance, if you’re making a homemade red sauce to use in baked ziti and lasagna, you’ll need to prepare the sauce first so that you have it ready when you want to assemble the pasta casseroles.

In the same way, put your recipes in order of what appliances you’ll be using. You can’t use the oven for five different recipes at once. You’ll need to space them out throughout the cooking sesson.

6. After you’ve cooked, keep track.

Once all your recipes are prepared, cooled, wrapped, labeled, and ready for freezing — your work is not quite done. Make an inventory of what you have on the Freezer Inventory sheet. Go here for more information on keeping a freezer inventory.

7. Make a meal plan.

Create a meal plan for how you’ll use these meals in the coming month. You’ll want to space out your bulk batches so that you’re not stuck at the end of the month with a week’s worth of enchiladas. Having a meal plan interspersed with freezer meals can help you enjoy great food and still have the flexibility for other meals throughout the week.

This step-by-step process should help you easily create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes. If you’re running short on recipes that your family loves, be sure to check out my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite indie sellers. Your library might have it, also!

Originally published April 1, 2011. Updated July 8, 2017.

How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan with Your Own Recipes | Life as Mom

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Comments

  1. I always keep a few things on hand in my freezer. Rice & Bean Burritos individually wrapped for easy lunches, lasagna, pulled pork, taco meat, and tomato sauce. I seem to have a hard time finding good freezer recipes for lunch though, and although I love my burritos…they do get tiring day after day. I look forward to your cookbook and enjoy following your blog!

  2. With seven kids, every month is Freezer Cooking month. 🙂 The ways I use it most are: 1. Baking 8-10 loaves of bread and freezing about half of them. 2. Never cooking enough meat for just one meal. In my 5 qt dutch oven I brown 3+ lbs of hamburger at a time and freeze some. I also roast an entire turkey, dice the entire thing and freeze it in 2-3 cup portions – perfect to pull out for a casserole. 3. Freezing cookie dough. Much cheaper (and more delicious) than storebought dough.

    These are all huge time savers – especially with browning and freezing meat in advance. I always feel that if the meat is taken care of for the meal, planning what it goes into is the easy part!!

  3. I am pregnant with baby #3, making 3 under 3 come the end of May. So I have been trying to cook, bake and freeze a little here and there.. hoping to get stocked up enough to last me through that newborn survival stage! I have made LOTS of breakfast muffins & biscuits, as well as some casserole dishes. Also, I have blanched veggies, diced onions, and cooked meats, breaking down into 1 lb. baggies… all frozen and ready to throw together for a meal. For lunches, I made my own version of Smuckers uncrustables PB&J… a lot of them, as well as wash, dice and freeze fruits for smoothies. It’s amazing everything you can freeze! I’m new to freezer cooking and think I’ve done well so far. Thanks for all your tips!

    • @Carolyn, fyi you can make a big batch of smoothies portion them out into freezer bags and freeze the night before pull out the bag and place in the fridge when you wake up you have a smoothie

      • @jessica, Thank you!! I will definitely try this. I love making smoothies but I hate to drag the blender out every time. Doing one huge batch and freezing would be super efficient! 🙂

  4. The number one thing I’ve been freezing is homemade chicken stock from my huge slow cooker. Every time I roast a whole chicken, the carcass goes in the slow cooker with some veggies. I use half of it for soup that night and freeze the rest in smaller portions to use for recipes later.

  5. I actually dream of full on freezer cooking. Someday. Right now we live in NYC and have a smaller than average fridge. But I freeze what I can. We make a large pot of spaghetti sauce about every 5-6 weeks and use it for spaghetti, ravioli sauce (reduced with beef broth) or lasagna. Whenever I make some soup I’ll double the batch and freeze some. And chicken stock, of course. It makes it super easy to go out and play in the city on beautiful days and still have a quick, easy, healthy meal at home.

  6. I saw the comment about frozen pb and j and realized that I could do the same with my daughter’s pb and honey – especially when we get to then end of the bread’s life at home. I had just been freezing the bread and serving it to her with toast, but that seems much easier. Thanks! I am going to cook up a lasagna – a bunch of chicken – diced and frozen, and baked oatmeal.

  7. My plans for the weekend are posted over at my blog. Thanks for sharing.

    http://wonderwomanimnot.blogspot.com/2011/04/weekend-plans-maybe-not-so-much.html

  8. April Fools? Did I miss something? What happened to Frugal Friday? I look forward to reading through it every Friday night, so it was greatly missed yesterday 🙁
    I do love your blog, thanks for all the great posts!

  9. For easy freezer lunches, quesadillas (cheese, chicken, steak, veggie…), cut in quarters, layer in wax paper and freeze individually. Put in the toaster oven on toast for 2-3 minutes and it’s ready (and crispy!).

    Also have made grilled ham and cheese, let cool and place in individual baggies. Again, throw in the toaster oven from the freezer for a few minutes.

    Twice baked potatoes and chili are a weekend lunch staple for us as well – defrost on Friday night in the fridge, then microwave for a few minutes.

    Completely changed our weekends – no more thoughts of running out for lunch!!

    • @katie, Thanks so much for that tip! The weekend is when I blow our “eat out” money because things are so crazy! Great idea on the chili and potatoes!

  10. We’ve been eating from the freezer/pantry for the past month, so I’m due for a batch cooking day. 4years ago when I started, I made complete entrees. Now I just make up components (bags of browned ground beef, cooked chicken, beans, sauce, pesto, etc) so I’m just pulling baggies from the freezer to make dinner.
    Let me just say a “duh Ann!” to myself. I’ve never premaid burritos because they just seemed gross reheated in the microwave, and I wasn’t clever enough to think how else to do it. You’re idea of on the griddle – BRILLIANT! Thanks!

  11. I’m still working my way through our last big freezer stock-up. What worked for me was to write out a detailed time line. It helped me to think logically about the order of operations. What recipes needed to bake? What needed simmering time? What could be easily whipped together while those things happened? That way I can maximize my time.

  12. I just finished a stock-up of all our Mexican food components: Mexican rice, fresh salsa, refried beans, taco meat. I think this week will be dedicated to replenishing breakfast items (fruit bars and oatmeal bars), and making some more baby food. The little guy is plowing through my supply!

  13. I have a book called Once a Month Cooking and I’m excited to finally try it. I’ve never done “real” freezer cooking so I am excited about the prospect of not having to cook supper every night!

  14. Monica Martinez says:

    My awesome friend Jackie decided to start a freezer meal exchange group. We are the Funky Freezer Girls and have been exchanging now a year. It has been so wonderful to make a bunch of dinners from one recipe and then head home from our exchange with all different meals for that month to feed my family. We also each make an extra meal to give away to a family that we pick every month to bless. If you are interested in starting a group like this check out this page: http://www.facebook.com/funkyfreezergirls there are lots of great ideas!

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