IN MY KITCHEN

My version of freezer cooking

good to the last drop

Two weekends ago, I made the "mistake" of listening to a Homefries podcast while folding loads of laundry. Tsh was talking to Jessica from Life as Mom, and the topic of freezer cooking came up in their conversation. Jessica is a champion freezer cooker

And suddenly, listening to that podcast, it was like someone had proppelled me into a crazed state of freezer cooking madness. 

I know there are tons of resources on the internet about freezer cooking. People have mastered it. Freezing meals, casseroles, soups, pies, the insides of pies. Doing all their cooking for the year in one afternoon. (slight exaggeration).

And while I really want to be one of "those people", I've always been overwhelmed by the idea. Buying all that food. Finding long stretches of uninterrupted time in the kitchen. The freezer space required. The supplies. The know-how. The mess. The dishes.

DSC_0009

But last Saturday, I decided for my growing family who seems to be consuming more and more volumes of food at every meal, I needed to give this a try. 

I spent the next hour or so with roughly every blog post Jessica has ever written on the topic opened in tabs on my browser. I began scribbling down notes, making a shopping list and getting even more inspired. 

I decided that I needed to tackle this new project in manageable chunks. I didn't google anything or search for more ideas, but decided to only use Jessica's blog as my resource so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed by information overload.  I knew I needed to stick with a few basics and go from there. 

I decided on three goals:

Cook and freeze a large batch of shredded chicken.

Try her "lawnmower taco" recipe.

Make one casserole during the week that I could double. Make one. Freeze one.

I went to the grocery store that afternoon after scanning circulars for a good deal on chicken. That evening after dinner I put all the chicken in my crockpot with some water and chicken base (I love Minors) and set it on low. In the morning after it had cooled somewhat, it was tender and easy to shred and package up for the freezer once it came to room temperature. (an important tip!)

Last week when I was making dinner, it was easy to make a double-recipe and freeze another whole casserole for some other night when I'm not in the mood to cook or feeling totally uninspired.

DSC_0021

Over the weekend, I made her lawnmower taco recipe, which was so simple, good and demolished by my family. And I browned extra meat and froze a portion of it for later.

Seriously, I think I could get into this. I absolutely do not see myself as someone who will do month's worth of prepping and freezing, but this little experiment opened my eyes to the fact that there are great ways to take on this idea in manageable ways. It was so easy to cook the chicken. overnight, in the crockpot. So easy to double a recipe. 

I'm excited to slowly add more things to my freezer (which I also cleaned out that morning, too. Seriously. I was inspired!) Last week, I pulled out some shredded chicken at the last minute and made Sarah's Chicken and Dumplings, which usually require me to be much more prepared and have started the recipe mid-day. 

My only issue now is knowing when to use the things I've frozen. Is a regular old weeknight dinner a good excuse to break out something frozen? Or do I keep them only for the nights that life is crazy or I'm just completely uninspired and unprepared for dinner that evening? I think if I continue to watch for good deals and try to double at least one thing each week, I'll feel more satisfied with my stash and won't feel so panicked when I dip into it. 

This week, I want to freeze some cookie dough. And I want to try chicken pot pie–one to eat, one to freeze. 

Yeah, I'm kinda in love with this whole concept. (And with my organized freezer full of options.)

And you? Do you freeze? Tell me more! I'm dying to hear more ideas and inspiration! Talk to me.

**(And yes, there is something new….it's coming. I'm just behind. As usual…)**

good to the last drop

Two weekends ago, I made the "mistake" of listening to a Homefries podcast while folding loads of laundry. Tsh was talking to Jessica from Life as Mom, and the topic of freezer cooking came up in their conversation. Jessica is a champion freezer cooker

And suddenly, listening to that podcast, it was like someone had proppelled me into a crazed state of freezer cooking madness. 

I know there are tons of resources on the internet about freezer cooking. People have mastered it. Freezing meals, casseroles, soups, pies, the insides of pies. Doing all their cooking for the year in one afternoon. (slight exaggeration).

And while I really want to be one of "those people", I've always been overwhelmed by the idea. Buying all that food. Finding long stretches of uninterrupted time in the kitchen. The freezer space required. The supplies. The know-how. The mess. The dishes.

DSC_0009

But last Saturday, I decided for my growing family who seems to be consuming more and more volumes of food at every meal, I needed to give this a try. 

I spent the next hour or so with roughly every blog post Jessica has ever written on the topic opened in tabs on my browser. I began scribbling down notes, making a shopping list and getting even more inspired. 

I decided that I needed to tackle this new project in manageable chunks. I didn't google anything or search for more ideas, but decided to only use Jessica's blog as my resource so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed by information overload.  I knew I needed to stick with a few basics and go from there. 

I decided on three goals:

Cook and freeze a large batch of shredded chicken.

Try her "lawnmower taco" recipe.

Make one casserole during the week that I could double. Make one. Freeze one.

I went to the grocery store that afternoon after scanning circulars for a good deal on chicken. That evening after dinner I put all the chicken in my crockpot with some water and chicken base (I love Minors) and set it on low. In the morning after it had cooled somewhat, it was tender and easy to shred and package up for the freezer once it came to room temperature. (an important tip!)

Last week when I was making dinner, it was easy to make a double-recipe and freeze another whole casserole for some other night when I'm not in the mood to cook or feeling totally uninspired.

DSC_0021

Over the weekend, I made her lawnmower taco recipe, which was so simple, good and demolished by my family. And I browned extra meat and froze a portion of it for later.

Seriously, I think I could get into this. I absolutely do not see myself as someone who will do month's worth of prepping and freezing, but this little experiment opened my eyes to the fact that there are great ways to take on this idea in manageable ways. It was so easy to cook the chicken. overnight, in the crockpot. So easy to double a recipe. 

I'm excited to slowly add more things to my freezer (which I also cleaned out that morning, too. Seriously. I was inspired!) Last week, I pulled out some shredded chicken at the last minute and made Sarah's Chicken and Dumplings, which usually require me to be much more prepared and have started the recipe mid-day. 

My only issue now is knowing when to use the things I've frozen. Is a regular old weeknight dinner a good excuse to break out something frozen? Or do I keep them only for the nights that life is crazy or I'm just completely uninspired and unprepared for dinner that evening? I think if I continue to watch for good deals and try to double at least one thing each week, I'll feel more satisfied with my stash and won't feel so panicked when I dip into it. 

This week, I want to freeze some cookie dough. And I want to try chicken pot pie–one to eat, one to freeze. 

Yeah, I'm kinda in love with this whole concept. (And with my organized freezer full of options.)

And you? Do you freeze? Tell me more! I'm dying to hear more ideas and inspiration! Talk to me.

**(And yes, there is something new….it's coming. I'm just behind. As usual…)**

38 comments on “My version of freezer cooking”

  1. Cookie dough, and baked cookies, freeze very well. I used to do all of my holiday baking in October, and then freeze it. Thanks for the reminder to do it again!

  2. When my children were young, I would buy 10 pounds of hamburger every month, cook it up, and freeze it in 2 cup amounts. Usually got 11 packages that way. That kept us in spaghetti sauce, tacos, curry sauce, and occasionally hamburger helper for the month. Often my husband would do the stirring, which made it super easy to get the job done.

  3. I’m kinda getting to the point where I’m actually thinking of getting rid of our freezer. When I look at how we utilise it there isn’t anything that *needs* to be there. Hopefully if we ever get our farm having a good larder/pantry will make even a fridge unnecessary. Do you freeze in plastic or jars?

    I do have friends who save Fridays to cook their entire meals for a week or two to freeze. I just don’t think I could ever be that with it …

  4. I don’t do the marathon “cook-for-a-weekend-and-have-meals-for-three-months” freezer cooking, but I am a fan of the “make two and freeze one method.” I find that this is most useful for me when I am too busy to cook, haven’t had the time to do grocery shopping, etc. When those times happen, it’s so nice to have a favorite meal in the freezer as a back up. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I need to be doing this more! Thanks for the reminder!

  5. I don’t do the whole day of cooking but I do just what you’ve described. Anytime I make soup or a casserole I double up, one for dinner, one for the freezer. I also make an enormous batch of zucchini/pumpkin/banana bread and freeze loaves of that. I freeze regular bread too because we never seem to have fresh bread when I need it. When I have a ton of eggs I make quiche and freeze it.

  6. I love this! I try to freeze things to have on hand, but I’m limited by space. I want one of those chest freezers, so I’ve been looking around. And I know what you mean about having a hard time dipping in to it. It makes me feel so good to know that there’s a meal in there, that I don’t want to take it out and use it up!Recently I’ve been taking one day a week to plan the meals for the week and get all the grocery shopping done. It just feels good not to have to worry about what to make for dinner, even if I still have to do the cooking. But you’ve inspired me to start freezer cooking again! It’s been awhile. Thanks for the links!

  7. J: how do you wrap your bread when you freeze it? I got a bunch of day-old bread from a bakery last year, and because I couldn’t use it all, I froze a lot. But much of it was kind of freezer-burned and stale when I went to use it.

  8. This weekend, I made a double batch of meatballs (6 lbs. of ground beef). One batch usually feeds us for 2 meals of BBQ meatballs, but I froze these raw on 2 cookie sheets and then transfered to freezer bags, so I can pull out some as needed for spaghetti and meatballs too.

    My problem is I only have the freezer side of my side-by-side fridge to work with. I have frozen chili in plastic bags and cooked chicken and ground beef before. The chicken is helpful, but the chili I usually make in my crockpot, so I didn’t really find that worth it, and the ground beef is usually a quick meal anyway, so I can live with cooking that as needed.

    3 kids and working from home, either the activities or the work bleed into dinner time, so I am excited to have a fall back other than ordering pizza or running for fast food. I am saving my freezer stash for my really difficult nights.

  9. I’m with you on this one! My first baby is due at the end of next month and several people recommended freezing meals but I definitely do *not* have the energy to take a whole day and stand over a stove and cook. So I’ve been doubling dinner recipes when I can and stashing the extras in the freezer for easy dinners to use after the baby gets here. 🙂

  10. LOVED reading this. I’m so glad that my posts were helpful to you! I think you’ll like my cookbook even more. And I’m not just saying that. 😉 It’s going to have everything all in one place, with lots of time-saving tricks and shortcuts to fit any schedule as well as 100+ new recipes. Wish I could send it to you today!

    Thanks for sharing the link love!

  11. We are too transient right now to do much freezing, but I love to make my own bread. I usually make two loaves and freeze one (there are only two of us). I also love to freeze pizza dough: I make twice as much as I need, and before letting it rise, I put it in a bag in the freezer (leaving a little rising room!). It’s so much fun to pull homemade food out of the freezer!

  12. I normally just put mine in large plastic bags I bought…they aren’t any thicker than regular bread bags. I think some bread freeze better than others, though. The super healthy store-bought bread tends to get stale very fast. I don’t normally keep it in the freezer all that long, though. We always use it up in a few weeks.

  13. Most of my recipes have more servings than I have people at my dinner table. So I make the full recipes, then make freezer meals to use as lunches, busy dinners, or “I’m still hungry”!

    If someone takes a lunch to school or work, they don’t have to worry about keeping it cold, as its already frozen. By the time they are ready to eat, the meal will have mostly thawed & will be ready to “zap” in the microwave, then make everyone within smelling distance jealous of their yummy meal!

    Sometimes I get in a cooking frenzy & just make lunches, but I keep it stocked up by simply making extra dinner servings.

    I find that as my children get older & want to eat more at dinnertime, it is helpful to take the freezer meal out of the pan before I let the hoard at it. That way I actually get a lunch to put into the freezer!

  14. I love using my freezer(s)!After O was born I looked for a cheap big one for the garage. I love doubling up, even tripling up 😉 – the reason why I want to own a couple of huge pots. Why start from scratch every night if you can pull something out and relax (preferably with a glass of wine)? Better even, on those nights there isn’t half as much washing up to do! I often freeze: bolognaise sauce, chillis, curries, stews, soups, mac cheese, crumbles and lasagna. I’m also a fan of freezing milk, emergency bread and herbs. I’ve never tried to freeze cookie dough so will be interested to see how you get on with that.

    For a chicken recipe with a bit of a twist try this one – it’s a Belgian recipe and reminds me of my mum’s Vol-au-vent: http://www.food.com/recipe/belgian-chicken-fricassee-vol-au-vent-187924

    Take care!

  15. ah, good for you! and thanks, for me — this blog’s brand new to me. we do make enormous double batches of chili (http://www.remedialeating.com/2009/11/the-way-it-is.html) and freeze it in meals-sized tubs, and basics like tomato sauce and chicken broth. I stuff peppers and zucchini and freeze them, though the grown-ups are the only eaters (sigh). Must train children to eat tacos…

    But as Erin (HOHR) has said often and enthusiastically? The chicken pot pie in Mad Hungry is GREAT. Highly recommended for eating, and freezing.

    Oh, and as to using? I think any night qualifies 🙂

    xo,M

  16. I freeze meat after I cook it a lot. I just ran to the store this morning and came home with some ground sausage. The baby goes in her high chair for a snack and I brown it and freeze. It’s so hard to get anything done in the late afternoon with her around. I also do the chicken thing but buy whole chickens. We bought 18 from a farm family that drives down from out of state. I cook one in the crock pot and have meat to freeze for salads or meals.

    I also just freeze extras – I usually have extra soup and freeze it flat in a ziplock. I never heat in the ziplock but it saves so much space.

  17. I don’t do the whole “once a month cooking” thing, but I do really like having meals (or parts of meals) in my freezer. Doubling recipes is such an easy way to make that happen! I also like to plan to spend some extra time in the kitchen every Monday, assessing leftovers, planning meals, perhaps baking muffins for easy morning breakfasts, and generally getting a “jump start” on the week’s food. Doing both of those things makes it so much easier to have healthy food without panic all week long. 🙂

  18. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and even made a double batch of stuffed shells, one to eat and one for the freezer, but thats as far as it went and I havent done anymore research…thanks for the reminder and resource!!

  19. Well done! I am a little bit envious – in a nice way 🙂 I have a freezer but don’t use it how I should, I’m never organised to have meal precooked in there, it mainly has frozen meat and veg that I have purchased on special – I have enough problem remembering to defrost that to use! Good luck, you have inspired me to maybe try…..

  20. I freeze in season fruits and some veggies, meats, babyfood and cookie dough. The cookie dough gets eaten the fastest! I love being able to pull out ‘fresh’ peppers for pots of chilli. Oh I also freeze stock and roasts mad in the crock pot. These are perfect for DH to have as his lunch.

  21. I also usually freeze half my pizza dough. As long as I remember to pull it out of the freezer early enough, it works great!

  22. I was very organized about freezing casseroles and such before my daughter (turning 3yo this week) was born, but haven’t done that much since. However, I have been keeping prepped ingredients in there (for example, chopped red bell peppers–ready to add to fajitas or marinara), which saves time when I’m trying to throw dinner together quickly.

    I read on someone’s blog recently–can’t remember where–about chopping and assembling all ingredients needed for crockpot meals and freezing them. Then when you want to use them, just dump it all in and turn on the pot–no muss no fuss. I keep meaning to try that but haven’t managed to organize myself to do the extra shopping/prepping. Maybe I should try the double-up method with that–if you’re already prepping and the knives and cutting board are already dirty it doesn’t take much more effort to make extra.

  23. I’ve been trying to do more make two, freeze one, also. I’m like you in that I don’t really see myself devoting a whole day to cooking for a month. Most days I enjoy cooking and find it a nice way to decompress at the end of the day, but some days I just don’t have the energy, so I love the idea of being able to pull something out of the freezer. I’ve also been trying to make big batches of beans in the crock pot and then portioning those out and freezing them for quick meal jumpstarts.

  24. I am not good with the freezer – partly because mine is teeny (only 3 drawers) and I also forget what’s in it. Somehow it ends up being a waiting area between cooking too much and the dustbin.

  25. But last Saturday, I decided for my growing family who seems to be consuming more and more volumes of food at every meal, I needed to give this a try.

    I spent the next hour or so with roughly every blog post Jessica has ever written on the topic opened in tabs on my browser. I began scribbling down notes, making a shopping list and getting even more inspired.

    I decided that I needed to tackle this new project in manageable chunks. I didn’t google anything or search for more ideas, but decided to only use Jessica’s blog as my resource so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by information overload. I knew I needed to stick with a few basics and go from there.

  26. you are singing my tune, molly.i love doubling things and freezing them…that’s about where it ends. this week, because chicken thighs were on sale, i went ahead and made 4x my normal lemon marinade and portioned it out between freezer bags full of chicken. i let them marinate in the fridge overnight and then froze three bags, made the fourth portion for dinner.also, the mad hungry chicken pocket pies and chicken enchiladas almost always get doubled or tripled for the freezer as does pasta sauce.as for the eating, i just pull something out when my day is hectic or i don’t feel like making an entire meal or messing up the kitchen. use it when you want to – that’s the best plan. xo.

  27. I’d like to do more freezer cooking. At the moment I am cooking a lot of casseroles and chicken and veg soup and blending and freezing in cubes for the baby. As for the adults, we make big batches of bolognese sauce and freeze in containers for quick mid-week dinners. I freeze some in baby food cube trays (later popped out into plastic bags) – easy to cook a bit of pasta and heat a few cubes for a quick lunch or dinner for the kids.

  28. I always buy more meat if it is on sale and cook it with plans to freeze it or save it for the next day to make two casseroles and freeze one. It is so nice to have extra food on hand that is homemade! I do find that I prefer to freeze in smaller two person portions because I dont like waiting for a huge 9×12 casserole to defrost. I (I know…) use Ziplock bags for liquid type meals that I freeze like stew, and lay them flat to freeze they store so nicely… I know its wasteful but it works for me. I also like to make a apple pie “filling” or chicken pot pie filling that you freeze in bags for easy thawing and freezer storage. Make a fresh crust then you can fill it with the filling and bake! Super yummy! good luck~ my freezer is empty wish I had something to pull out for tonight! oh~ any kind of chili freezes wonderfully~ green chili white bean & chicken and black&red bean w/ground beef chili are my standards to freeze~ShannonMama of 3J~5twins M&N 18 mo.

  29. I am very low key about it, but I always try to have a few meals in the freezer. The trick is judging when best to pull them out. But I LOVE the security of quick food in the house that doesn’t require take out or money.

    I also think you are wise to limit yourself to one resource. The internet can be enormously paralyzing! Thanks for the inspiration, too.

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