Guest Post by Jessica from LifeAsMom
Freezer cooking has been touted as a great way to save money, time, and energy. Also known as Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC), it offers the home cook a respite from daily kitchen tasks as the freezer is stocked with an assortment of pre-made frozen meals. Since freezer cooking involves one large grocery shopping trip, often buying items in bulk at a reduced rate and then cooking the meals all at one time, this method of meal planning can produce great savings in the pocket book and on the schedule.
Typically when people think of frozen meals, images of stacks and stacks of casseroles come to mind. But, what if you don’t like casseroles? Or what about that small freezer of yours? Thirty meals are not going to fit. Maybe you just like having some flexibility at dinnertime and don’t want to commit to a 30-day meal plan. You might think that freezer cooking’s just not for you.
You can still reap the benefits of bulk buying and bulk cooking without having to eat Lentil Sausage Surprise for the next month or having to buy a deep freeze. You can have your freezer meals and be creative, too.
Freezer cooking is ultimately making your own convenience foods, tailored to your family’s budget, size, and tastes.
You can easily adapt the standard “OAMC” methods to your own preferences. Think about the meals you regularly prepare and then consider how to make part of that meal ahead of time.
Prepare “dinner kits” for easy to assemble meals such as tacos, burritos, or pizza. Cook and season the meat. Portion the cheese. Cook and season dry beans. Cook up a pot of rice. You can even mix up the pizza dough. Package each of these components in meal-size portions and place all the bags for a certain meal in a larger bag. Be sure to include tortillas. Label and freeze. The work is practically done for you come dinner time. You can easily make kits for sloppy joes, hamburgers, or chili dogs. Just prepare all the components and stash them in the freezer.
If you’re pressed for space in the freezer, you may not have room to bundle each component. Instead, store the items in the best space-saving way and keep track of what you have.
Love to cook outside? Is your family a bunch of meat eaters? No problem. Trim your cuts of meat, season or marinade and seal in a ziptop bag. Label and freeze. On the day of serving, dump the roast in the crockpot, arrange the chicken in a baking pan, or throw the steaks on the grill. Your dinner prep is half done! Add a side dish and a vegetable and you’re good to go.
Assemble baking mixes for pancakes, muffins, scones, biscuits, brownies, or quick breads. Label a ziptop bag with the recipe name, list the wet ingredients to add later as well as the baking instructions. Measure out the “dry” team into the bag, seal it, and store in the pantry for later use. You’re halfway to homebaked goodies which will be tastier and less expensive than store bought mixes.
Freezer cooking is very adaptable to however you like to feed your family. With a little creative thinking, you can most definitely make freezer cooking work for you. Ready to get started? Check out this step-by-step freezer cooking tutorial.
What is the biggest challenge for you in making freezer cooking serve you best at dinnertime?
— Jessica Fisher, also known as FishMama, regularly feeds her freezer so that she can feed the hungry masses who call her “Mom.” She posts daily about life’s joys and challenges at LifeasMOM and shares delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats.