Freezer Cooking: Meal Planning 101 Series

We’ve talked about the why and how of meal planning, so I want to let you in on my little secret weapon for those busy days.

Freezer Cooking.

I love everything about prepping meals for my freezer.

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When life gets completely hectic, my family doesn’t have to eat out or pick up fast food. We just grab dinner from the freezer.  And I don’t mean prepackaged foods.  I mean homecooked meals.  

If I have a well-stocked freezer, it saves me money, time, and even energy. 

On a day when I prep meals for the freezer, I have a huge mess in my kitchen.  And then I clean it up.  Then on nights when we eat out of the freezer, I don’t have a messy kitchen.  It’s far less work to prep meals this way.

How Do I Make Freezer Meals?

When I’m on my A Game (which isn’t often!), I try to plan meals for the freezer a couple of times a month.  This helps keep my freezer full.  If I’m not able to do that, then I just do it when I can.

When I’m making a soup, gumbo, or chili, I double, triple, or quadruple the recipe.  It doesn’t take much extra time, but it stocks my freezer very quickly.  My recipe for Authentic Cajun Red Beans & Rice is another one that’s great for the freezer.  Casseroles are also perfect freezer meals.

I’m a huge fan of the assembly line approach.  I get a number of disposable pans and simply add all the ingredients in assembly line fashion.

freezer cooking meal planning 101

This is how I stocked my freezer with 6 lasagnas last month!  Anyone need some lasagna? 

 

Freezer Cooking Lasagna Meal Planning 101

When Do We Need Freezer Cooking?

Honestly, all the time is a completely acceptable answer.  I know many families who do this as a matter of discipline, prepping meals for the freezer on a regular basis.  Breakfasts, dinners, and desserts pack their deep freezers.  I love that approach.

For me, I have some essential times when freezer cooking is an absolute must:

When I’m expecting a baby.  As part of my “nesting,” I will pack the freezer with all manner of freezer meals.  I make up full meals and components of meals so that I won’t have to cook for quite a while.  Of course I have c-sections, so this is added motivation for freezer cooking, but all of us have a rough time transitioning after having a new baby.  Freezer cooking  makes that transition easier.  Or am I the only one whose children fall apart at 5 pm?

When I’m approaching a busy season.  We’re prepping for a move right now, so back in March, I began packing my freezer, just in case this might happen. I knew that in the middle of crazy cleaning and packing, I would need a night off cooking without the expense of eating out.

When I’m expecting company.  If I’m having company in a week or so, I like to prep some breakfasts and dinners for the freezer.  This enables me to have the home of a Martha and the heart of a Mary, or at least that’s the goal.  I always struggle with my Martha tendencies.

When I have friends who are expecting babies.  I can’t always do this, but when I can, I try to put away some extra meals in my freezer for friends who are about to have babies.  This makes it easier when I bring a meal because all I have to do is pop dinner in the oven and add a salad, bread, and dessert.

And if you don’t have a deep freezer?

I would save up for one.  I think it’s completely worth it and will pay for itself eventually, if not in financial terms, then at least in terms of your sanity.  It was an one of the first big purchases we made when we were expecting our first baby.  I received an unexpected bonus from a job I no longer had.  Instead of buying fancy schmancy baby furniture, we chose to buy a deep freezer.  We’ve never regretted that decision.  If you’re receiving money back from taxes, a deep freezer just might be a good investment!

Do you plan meals for your freezer?  When do you find them to be essential?  If not, what’s the biggest challenge you have with freezer cooking?

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Jennifer G says:

    I love freezer cooking. I usually will cook up large batches of ground meat, because I use it in all sorts of things, soups/stews, spaghetti, sloppy joes, hamburger pie (similar to shepherds pie), etc and it is super handy to have it cooked and portioned in the freezer. Sometimes I will add the spaghetti sauce to the meat before freezing, sometimes not. When I cook rice or mashed potatoes, I will make large batches and freeze the “leftovers” in individual or family portions. I have made meatloaves and frozen them, but they are not my favorite freezer meal, I’d rather make it fresh. I like to season and shape hamburger patties and then flash freeze them. I have just recently learned how to cook them under the broiler, which makes for an easy supper that feels like I slaved away :) I have always been intimidated by lasagna, but your assembly line approach makes me think I might give it a try.

  2. Freezer cooking is something I have just recently started doing. We don’t have a deep freeze because of limited space, so our fridge freezer is stuffed to the gills. But what a relief on days when I’m too pooped to cook or clean to just pull out a meal, thaw it, and heat it up!

    A friend of mine is also expecting soon so we did some freezer meals together. We each left with 8 meals (4 of her recipes, 4 of mine). We’ve been enjoying those meals because you know, being pregnant with littles is tough, and it’s nice to have that food. So, we’ll probably have to have another freezer meal session before our babies arrive!

    Do you have any recipes or a Pinterest board with freezer friendly meals? I’d love to follow it and add to my own board.
    Keri recently posted…7 Activities to Remember Good Friday with ChildrenMy Profile

  3. These are great tips, Gabby! I’d love to say I’m right on with you about having my freezer full of meals, but we go through them so quickly! It’s something I definitely strive for, but still working on getting that one down. I agree, getting a deep freezer has been so helpful! It’s definitely worth the cost. :) Love your tips! I’ll have to start quadrupling our meals so that I can freeze some of them. :)
    Caroline recently posted…Simplify Easter for Daily LifeMy Profile

  4. My mother has two freezers. I remember going out to it often to get stuff for dinner. Now that I moved. I miss it soooooo much. I am even thinking about saving up for one.
    Cody Doll recently posted…Literary Junkies April 2014My Profile

  5. I have used freezer cooking during various seasons of life and it is a time/energy saver! Thanks for sharing via Family Fun Friday, where you are one of this week’s featured posts.
    Stephanie Kay recently posted…Visit Rhode Island for Vacation or StaycationMy Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] continued our meal planning series.  This week, I wrote about how freezer cooking saves time, money, and […]

  2. […] at A Time to Freeze is my freezer cookin’ hero.  Like me, she loves to stock her freezer up before a baby comes (and all year long, for that matter!).  She typically stocks her freezer for […]

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