Recently I decided to dabble in the art of freezer cooking. You know the whole “fill your freezer for a months worth of meals” thing. I am a meal planner but, truthfully I have never planned out meals (dinners) for the whole month and that sort of scared me. I decided to try out just a few freezer meals for my “lazy days”. Let me just say that this is the best thing I have done ever!
Not only am I a work at home parent trying to balance everything but, I am also the worst organizer I know. I must have 100 to-do list half started all over my house. That’s why I decided to give freezer cooking a try. I was sick of scrambling over what to cook for dinner when I forgot to pull meat out of the freezer.
What do you need for freezing cooking?
Freezer cooking believe it or not is really simple simple. You will need storage containers to freeze your food in, a few of your favorite recipes, and a freezer to store them in. It’s that simple. I actually like to use just the regular old Ziploc Freezer bags to store my meals in because I can freeze them flat to save space in my tiny freezer. If you are dead set on using freezer containers just know you do not need to spend a fortune on storage containers to get started with freezer cooking.
*Pro Tip: buy the Ziploc Freezer bags or containers on Amazon in the 3 pack! It’s so much cheaper than buying them in your local grocery store.
You do not need an expensive deep freezer unless you are going pro and planning to store large quantities of frozen meals.
What can I freeze?
Now that we know what we want to freeze or meals in, the next baby step would be figuring out what we actually want to cook and freeze. After doing some research, I was completely amazed but what you are actually able to freeze. I just assumed that freezer meals were just casseroles made with cream of soup and that sort of thing, but that isn’t the case at all! The possibilities are really limitless. Just take a look at this list for some inspiration:
- Soups, Stews, Chili
- Meatloaf (Mix and form the loaf, wrap in foil, freeze before baking for best taste.)
- Meatballs (Form the balls, bake them in the oven and then freeze in large batches.) You can make Swedish Meatballs, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, and more!
- Meat and chicken presliced for stir-fry and other meals (Freeze meat with marinades for extra flavor.)
- Pasta sauce
- Cheese (Shredded or not)
- Cooked beans (Store 2 cup portions in freezer bags. 2 cups equals one can of beans.)
- Cooked shredded chicken, beef, pork (Great in tacos, nachos, enchiladas etc.)
- Cookie dough (Scoop them into 1″ scoops, flash freeze them on cookie sheets, stash in freezer bags for a quick dessert.)
- Pastries (Baked or unbaked. Unbaked dough will hold up better.)
What you CAN NOT freeze
- White potatoes (Raw or not, these do not freeze well. They get discolored and lose texture.) Seriously, take it from me unless you want grey potato goop, just don’t do it.
- Lettuce, cabbage, and certain veggies ( These just turn into a soggy mess when you try to cook them after freezing.)
- Recipes with MAYO (Mayo separates when you freeze it if you don’t mind that then freeze on my friend)
Planning and labeling
Freezer cooking can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. Like I said in the beginning, I was deathly scared of trying to plan for a month’s worth of food on my freezer . I decided to start slow and just made a double batch of a few things I already planned on cooking for the week. If you do this like I did you will build up your freezer at a reasonable pace with out overwhelming yourself.
My tip to you if you plan on a big freezer cooking season is to take the day and plan out cooking your freezer meals once or twice a month. You can cook several meals at the same time or go all out and cook enough meals for the entire month in one session. When choosing recipes, I always try to include two or three new recipes, just to keep things fresh.
I only have one thing to say about labeling.. MAKE SURE YOU DO IT! You are not going to remember in a month what you put in the freezer and what the date was. Use freezer tape (if using containers) or a permanent maker, just make sure you don’t forget this super duper important step! I usually label the bags when I’m planning the meals out so I know exactly how many I need but that’s just me.
Freezing your meals
In order to make sure your meals freeze in the most optimal conditions, you need to cool your meals completely. Cool the food until room temperature and then chill it in the refrigerator before freezing it. This will help prevent freezer burn and therefore preserve taste and texture.
This is how the pros keep their food tasting delicious.
I would like to just add one more thing, if it wasn’t good to start with, it won’t get better in the freezer! If you didn’t like the way it tasted before you froze it, chances are you probably still won’t like it.
What to do with your frozen meals
So, you made it through and you now have a whole freezer full of meals but what do you do now? How do you cook them? This is the best part. All you need to do is thaw your meal for a few hours (or the night if you have time) in the refrigerator and cook!
Not all freezer recipes have to be crock pot recipes! Keep that in mind to avoid the moment of panic when you realize you forgot to pull out a meal for dinner and it’s too late to throw anything in the pot. I like to keep things like frozen cooked hamburger for spaghetti in the freezer for emergency situations like this.
Once you get into your groove freezer cooking is an amazing way to not only save your budget from takeout order when you didn’t plan for dinner but, a great stress reducer knowing you always have a delicious meal on hand for your family. I can’t wait to share my freezer cooking meal plan with you!