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As promised, here’s our rundown on freezer cooking. I’ve been doing freezer cooking for a few years but Alex just recently decided to join in on the fun. A quick search on Pinterest will turn up so. many. results. Clearly, cooking for the long haul has become a thing. And with good reason! I started because I was looking for quick and easy meals. The problem with quick and easy is that it often means “boxed, processed and full of preservatives”. Yuck, no thanks.
I really think it’s cheaper in the long run too. On a regular trip to the grocery store I end up with stuff that I don’t use entirely. Or at all. Or that I even need. But I want. Like cookies. Mmmm, cookies. See? That’s how it happens. But on a shopping trip for freezer meals, the goal is to only buy items I’m going to use in my meals. Also, I try to inventory what I already have on hand and work that into the meal list. It’s a great way to use up things I’d eventually throw away. Although I do still end up with the occasional splurge item like, you guessed it, cookies. What can I say? I like cookies.
Just in case you have no idea what freezer cooking is or why it makes me excited, the general idea is that you spend one day cooking up a plethora of tasty treats. Then said tasty treats get packaged and frozen. For the next few weeks (or months) you have a variety of options just waiting in your freezer to be pulled out and enjoyed. I like to freeze smaller portions that I can throw in my lunchbox and take to work on the days I’m in the office.
The approach you take to planning your freezer meals depends on how big you’re gonna go. Like everything I do, it started out simple and then got bigger from there. Damn you, Pinterest! I’ve found that proper planning can make or break me. Literally. I can either have a well-planned and successful cooking sesh or end up on the floor of the kitchen, crying, with flour in my hair.
Everyone gets involved too. Even Aislynn. When there’s nothing to stir or poke your nose into, there’s always cleaning. Warms my heart to see that girl with a sponge in her hand.
Almost as much as it warms my heart to see her so intent on cheese shredding.
So first things first, decide what kind of freezer meals you’re going to cook and make a list. I try to do a mixture of breakfast, sides, lunch/dinner and then extras like taco meat or shredded chicken. The extras are great for when you’re tired of what’s in the freezer and want something different that won’t take too long.
There are some things that freeze well and some…not so much. Cream-based sauces tend to separate when thawed out. Cooked pasta sometimes gets mushy. Google will give you a list of things that can and can’t be frozen but there’s a little trial and error involved too. In a later post, I’ll go into more detail about that.
For a few years, Alex and I have done a huge holiday baking weekend. We’ve learned some tips and tricks over time that are well applied to freezer cooking too. We’ve learned that it’s easier to group certain types of things together and do them one day (or at one time) instead of trying to do everything at once. For our freezer cooking weekend, we learned that it’s better to do all the bread, muffins and some prep work one day and everything else the next. I don’t always make homemade bread because it is a little time-intensive with all of the rising time. But it is so worth it!! The Amish sweet bread we made reminds us of King’s Hawaiian bread a little. So good.
Here’s what things were looking like at one point during the weekend:
In addition to the ingredients you need for all your meals, don’t forget to buy freezer bags. I’ve tried other containers over the years but I always go back to bags. At some point, I’m going to invest in one of those vacuum sealer contraptions but for now, I just make sure to get as much air out as possible before I zip it.
If you don’t put something between the layers in the freezer, the bags tend to merge together and it can be a pain to separate them after they’re frozen. To get your bags to lay as flat as possible, put one layer in the freezer and then put something flat over the top of it. A cookie sheet or rectangular baking dish would work well. Put your next layer over the top of that and so on. Once everything is frozen, you can pull it out, remove what you used to separate the layers and then restack your flattened and frozen bags. Easy peasy!
For your reading pleasure, here is the list that Alex and I made for our recent freezer cooking weekend (yes, weekend. We go big!).
Sample Freezer Cooking List
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Breakfast Casserole
- Breakfast burritos
- Lemon cranberry muffins
- Pumpkin muffins
- Cinnamon rolls
- Oatmeal/wheat bread
- Amish sweet bread
- Pumpkin bread
- Zucchini bread
- Mac and cheese
- Mashed Potatoes
- Taco Meat
- Shredded Chicken
- Sweet and sour meatballs
- Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Chicken Tenders
- Shredded Pork
- Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice Casserole
- Hot Pockets
- Mini Pizzas
- Baked Pasta
I’m going to add a section in the top navigation of the site for recipes so be sure to check that out.
I’ve seen people approach freezer cooking in different ways. Some people don’t fully cook meals before freezing. Instead, they’ll do some of the prep work and then freeze all the ingredients together to make a whole meal and then cook it when they’re ready to use it. Me? I’m lazy and I’d prefer to just pull something out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave or oven to thaw it out so I tend to choose things that can be fully cooked and then frozen.
It’s totally a matter of personal preference. If you have a garden, it’s also a great way to enjoy the fruits of your labor long after growing season is over. The great thing about freezing meals is that the options are literally endless. You can go as big or as small as you like.
Hopefully, that gave you some inspiration for how to incorporate some freezer meals into your life! I’ll be doing some more posts on this in this future so keep an eye out for that. I’ll also be adding new recipes too so be sure to sign up for our mailing list if you’d like to know when something new is added!