I've read quite a few blog posts that explain freezer cooking: what it is, why to do it, and how to do it. It has always sounded like a great idea (basically, spend a lot of time cooking several meals at once, freeze them, and then just pop in the oven or slow-cooker and voila, a freshly-made meal).
But it also sounded cost-prohibitive: do I really have to buy a whole month's worth of groceries at once? (We usually shop for groceries twice a month, after each payday.)
It also sounded exhausting--spending a whole day cooking and cleaning up. I have a small kitchen, and it doesn't take much to turn it into a disaster. Plus, with no dishwasher, I'd have to be doing dishes as I was working. I usually don't have a whole day to set aside to just cook.
Plus, we have a tiny freezer. Our fridge and freezer are side-by-side, and the freezer is so narrow I can barely fit a 9x13 pan in lengthwise. It doesn't have a lot of room for storing several frozen meals.
But this school year, I wanted to make preparing meals a little easier. So I started cooking some things in bulk: chicken. Beans (of the black, white and red varieties). Stock. A friend graciously gave us a lot of corn, which I helped her cook and prepare for freezing.
|courtesy Jami Balmet, www.youngwifesguide.com|
To my surprise, I discovered that it was easy to, if not prepare several meals ahead of time, at least get ingredients cooked and portioned into meal-size containers (or plastic bags). My freezer is now full to bursting, and I'm looking forward to less work preparing meals for the next few weeks.
I took inventory of the contents of my freezer. It's way more than I thought I could make:
Chicken stock, 6 bags, 2 cups each
Mixed cooked beans, 12 bags, ~2 cups each
Cooked corn, 8 1/2 bags, ~2 cups each
Cooked chicken, 4 bags, 1-2 cups each
Tomato paste (homemade), 1/4 cup
Saute'ed mushrooms/onions/garlic, about 1 cup
White rice, 6 bags, 2+ cups each
1 lb ground beef
a variety of frozen vegetables
a bit of pepperoni
It's amazing what my little freezer is currently holding!
And it really wasn't hard to make any of the items I cooked in bulk. For the rice, I just cooked two pounds in my biggest pot. I cooked some chicken in the oven and boiled the rest, and then took the meat off the bones. Then I used the bones to make stock, in my slow-cooker and in a pot on the stove. The beans were also cooked in the slow-cooker and a pot. The mushrooms are leftovers from a meal a couple weeks ago. The tomato paste was an experiment I tried yesterday; I'll share more about that another time, but it was easy and very successful.
My point is, anyone can freezer-cook. It doesn't matter how much time you have, how much money you have, how big or tiny your freezer is, or how good a cook you are. The things I've prepared ahead of time are SO easy to do!
My friend Jami has shared a wealth of information on freezer cooking in our new cookbook, Real Food for the Real Homemaker. There's a huge, detailed chapter on freezer-cooking, as well as recipes for making things like slow-cooked chicken, cooked beans, and chicken stock--all things that are in my freezer right now.
Currently, the cookbook is on sale, including all the things shown above for only $9.99. But this deal only lasts till MONDAY, August 26, at midnight-- so don't wait to take advantage of this! After Monday, the price will go back up to $12.95.
Find out how to do freezer-cooking, how to save money at the grocery store, how to plan meals (and get an electronic meal planner, too!), and SO much more. Plus, the cookbook contains nearly 80 recipes that your family will love.
What do you think about freezer cooking? Is it something that would save you time, work and money? What kind of things would you put in your freezer? What should I add to mine?