If you're looking to start freezer cooking and building a great freezer stash, these awesome tips will help you get started freezer cooking your way to pro in no time.
Easy Freezer Cooking for Beginners
I LOVE freezer cooking. Freezer meals are great for stressful times like having company or having a new baby, or even just crazy busy nights where you don't have enough time to cook a meal from scratch.
I highly recommend freezer cooking and making freezer meals, sides, sauces, and more. In fact, I have an entire section here dedicated to Freezer-Friendly Food. It saves so much time in the long run, and it's saved my sanity on multiple occasions.
Freezer Cooking Methods
There's basically two main ways to gather a freezer stash in your own home. You've likely heard of the first way, but I found a MUCH easier and less time consuming method, which I will also share with you.
Method 1: Freezer Cooking Days
The first way to prepare freezer meals is to plan a day to just cook, cook, cook. You plan your meals for the week or month. Then you spend basically an entire day chopping and prepping the food to stock up your freezer until your next scheduled cooking day. Pretty simple, right?!
There's a wonderful site dedicated entirely to this method called Once A Month Meals. It has menus every month, recipes, and even includes specialty diets. Basically, you just have to do the cooking and the shopping.
Method 2: Doubling Up
I really REALLY wanted to use the first method with cooking days when I first started freezer cooking. But here were my issues:
1. Child Care - With Mr. Gracious working as a firefighter, he's gone for 24 hours at a time. I don't really want to spend his entire day off cooking. And seriously, even when Mr. Gracious is watching the kiddos, they like to congregate when I'm in the kitchen. They're great little helpers, but it was turning a long cooking day into an extended cooking night.
2. I LOVE cooking, but an entire day of standing in the kitchen feels like an eternity! And don't even get me started on how physically painful this actually is if you're pregnant!
So I found a solution because I really did want to stock my freezer, but I just didn't have the time, patience, or desire to have an entire freezer cooking day. I started doubling up on what I was cooking for dinner that night! You're already making it, so it's not too much trouble to chop up an extra onion or brown an extra pound of ground beef. Tacos for dinner? Double your recipe, and throw half in the freezer! So easy!
I started using this method, when I was pregnant with our Princess, and by the time she was born, we had 2 months of freezer meals, INCLUDING breakfast. It was heaven. I highly recommend this method, and especially for all you pregnant mamas out there who don't need to be on your feet for 12 hours at a time!
Freezer Cooking Tips
No matter what method you choose, there are some basic guidelines to follow. These will help you out and keep your freezer meals tasting yummy.
1. Pick recipes that you already love. When you're first starting out, it's tempting to try to jump on the bandwagon with all new recipes. I think that's a method for disaster. If you make all those new recipes, and you don't really like any of them, you've just wasted lots of time and lots of money.
Stick to recipes that are already winners in your house. Most food is freezer friendly. If you're not sure if your recipes are freezer friendly, here's a quick list:
- Meats - like tacos, chicken teriyaki, or meatloaf
- Soups and stews
You can also check out our favorite Freezer Friendly meals, which have been tested and approved at our house.
2. Don't forget breakfast! Many breakfast foods are freezer friendly as well! It's easy to double up on these recipes and save some in your freezer for later. Quick breads like muffins, pancakes, and waffles freeze wonderfully, and I always like to have some on hand for our busy mornings. Some of our favorite breakfasts, like Blueberry Muffins and Crockpot Apple Butter, come straight from our freezer.
3. Use proper wrapping procedure. It's very important to wrap your food properly to prevent freezer burn and keep your freezer meals delicious while they're stored. Let your food cool completely to room temperature before adding to the freezer. Then be sure to wrap or package in an airtight container. You don't want any part of your food exposed to the "freezer elements," as that is how it will get freezer burn!
4. Stock up on disposable containers. For even less mess (and work!), store your food in disposable containers, such as freezer bags, foil baking pans, and freezer deli containers. These are all very cheap, will keep your food tasting fresh, AND you won't have to do extra dishes (Yay!). If you don't have any, you may want to purchase some permanent markers as well to label your food containers with what's in it, and the date you made it.
5. Freeze individual ingredients. This, my friends, is a great money-saver and something that's often looked past. If you have extra ingredients from a recipe that you know you won't be able to use before it expires or spoils, you can freeze it! You can do this with all sorts of veggies, including onions, carrots, peppers, herbs, etc. You can also freeze ingredients like pasta sauce or chicken stock. No more tossing un-used food, and the next time you need the ingredient, it will be in your freezer so you don't have to purchase it again.
For more Freezer Cooking resources, check these out!
Home Management Binder: Includes meal planning worksheets, as well as freezer inventory checklist, and TONS more.
Monthly Meal Plans: New meal plans every month for breakfast, snack, and dinner.
And you can find our favorite Freezer Friendly Food here.
Do you freezer cook? Which method do you use?
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