Written by Lisa Brown
If you are a family of 1 or a family of 10+, cooking for your freezer can be the answer to your busy days. The biggest question is how to get started making meals ahead of time so when you don’t have time you don’t have to hit up a drive thru.
There are many resources to find recipes that are tested for the freezer. Once a month cooking, Batch Cooking, OAMC, and Freezer Cooking are just a few of the names you can search for online. Pintrest is a wonderful way to see what others have tried and had success making. If technology is not your thing, your local library has books on the subject. I also use a trial and error method, taking my favorite recipe from dinner and freezing a small portion of it to try a few days later.
The most important step you can do to save you a headache is to plan. I write down ideas I would like to make and discuss them with the family over dinner. Once I have a list of 10 -20 main dishes, I get started on a grocery list. I like to use a spreadsheet to keep all the recipe ingredients in order, but you can also us a tally method by writing the ingredient and putting hash marks for each time you need that item again.
When you head out to the store, I find it is best to do this alone. If you are heading to many stores and filling the cart with almost a months worth of food, you need all the space you can get.
There are many ways to get all your meals in the freezer. Some people take one day, spending 8-15 hours making many things. I have done this a few times and this is not my favorite method. I like to take nap time, 2 hours, and make 3-4 recipes. In that time I can get 15-20 meals (I make each recipes in multiples of 4) in the freezer and only have one mess to clean up. Another way to get some quick meals in your freezer is to make a double or triple batch of the meal you are making on an evening that is not so hectic.
If you have a large chest freezer or just a freezer above your fridge, you can make this work. I like to use freezer bags to keep the food easy to stack and they take up less space. We can also portion out our food so we are not wasting food, thus saving money. In an upper freezer you can fit 20 -30 meals if you are using gallon or quart freezer bags. Many places sell foil pans to make clean up a breeze. You can pop these straight from the freezer to the oven then toss once you are done. They come in many sizes to fit your family size and meal.
Stop on by next Tuesday for more information on freezer cooking. Over the next few weeks I will be offering tips on how to meal plan, create your own cookbook, inventory your freezer and how to entertain toddlers while you are in the kitchen. I also look forward to sharing some of our favorite family recipes to help you get started.