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Freezer Cooking Day: The Lazy Edition

So, I did a very short Freezer Cooking Day this past Saturday. Actually, I don’t think “day” really describes what it was – since it was more like “snatches of time” in the middle of a busy day.

To be completely honest, I got all lazy and didn’t really do it “right.” I guess you could say I’m adapting FlyLady’s slogan: “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.”

Getting past perfectionism and being satisfied with “good enough” has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned as a homemaker. Because seriously? No one lives in the perfect, catalog houses anyway.

I cooked up a TON of chicken (something like 16 meals’ worth!) and then just chopped the cooked chicken and sliced the marinated chicken. And then {gasp!} I dumped it into two big freezer bags and stuck them in the freezer. I know I should have probably frozen them in individual meal-sized bags, but I ran out of bags and time.

The same with the strawberries, bananas and peaches. I’d planned to make up these snazzy Fruit Smoothie Kits complete with yogurt frozen in ice cube trays and the like. But I was short on time since we were leaving the next morning to go out of town, so I decided it was better to get something done and to go to bed at a decent hour, than to do everything perfectly and stay up all night.

{Is it a sign that I’m getting old or that I’m getting smart when I choose sleep over perfectionism?}

Only time will tell if my lazy methods end up taking a lot of extra time. For now, I’m just happy to have a big bag of muffins, three big bags of frozen fruit for smoothies, 40 homemade oatmeal packets and about 16 meals’ worth of chicken in the freezer making meal preparation over the next few weeks much smoother.

And all told, I probably spent no more than two hours –broken up over the day – to pull it off, including clean up.

Sure, it’s not my most impressive Freezer Cooking Day spread, but it’s something. And that something will come in very handy during the busy weeks ahead.

______________________

Did you have a chance to do any baking or cooking this week? If so, post about it on your blog and leave your link below to your direct blo g post. I’d love it especially if you could share pictures and recipes so we can get ideas for our next Freezer Cooking Day! And I’m guessing many others would be inspired as well.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

62 Comments

  • Crystal, seriously. Even doing 2 hours a day is impressive, encouraging and motivating 🙂

  • Kimberly says:

    Big flylady fan myself. THANK GOD for her!!!!

  • Daisy says:

    You’re still our hero (from one perfectionist mommy to another). 🙂

    Our Sprouts Marketplace had strawberries on sale for 88cents/lb. I know I won’t see them that low until next summer. I bought 6 lbs. washed them, plucked off the heads (no slicing), and put them in large freezer bags, freezing them flat so the strawberries are easier to separate to throw into smoothies. I did the same with blueberries that were on sale 50cents per 1/2 lb. to throw into cereal.

    I roasted two chickens this morning. We ate half of one for dinner, and while my tot was stilllll eating his dinner, I sat next to him cleaning the meat off of the other half and the other whole chicken, putting them into three freezer bags. One chicken was rubbed in butter, parsley and garlic salt. The other was butter and one of those multi-use poultry seasonings.

    Does someone have a better way to freeze chicken so it doesn’t get freezer burn before we use it?

    • Maureen says:

      @Daisy, We have trouble with freezing cooked meat, too. The best solution that I have found is to freeze it in a liquid, like broth/stock, which seems to protect it from freezer effects and a funky taste.

    • Kate says:

      @Daisy, I actually came on here to pose a similar question. Money Saving Mom seems to freeze a lot of stuff, but I have yet to find a way to freeze anything that doesn’t result in it tasting freezer-burnt when I thaw it. I am a vegetarian, so I am not concerned with freezing meat, but would like to be able to freeze everything else. I have used tubberware-type containers, storage bags, freezer bags, vacuum-seal bags, etc, all to no prevail. MSM, do you have any suggestions?

  • Haila says:

    Thanks for sharing this one. In the context of my particular life, I’ve always been daunted by the more ambitious Freezer Cooking Days. But this, I could do. 🙂

  • Haila says:

    Oh, and I LOVE that “Catalog Living” blog. So funny!!

  • Beeb says:

    It might not seem like a lot to you, but I’m impressed!! You totally made the right call on sleep vs. working all night. I struggle with that kind of perfectionism myself, but it just ends up being counterproductive (and miserable!). And, that Catalog Living blog is cracking me up!

  • Stacy says:

    I hit the same Sprouts sale as Daisy, only I got 15 lbs of strawberries and 2 lbs of blueberries will probably go back for more later this week since I had almost worked my way through my stash of smoothie fruit and I know these are probably the last of the season. I wash them, stem them, and freeze them on cookie sheets. Once they’re frozen hard that way I put them in gallon ziploc bags and just pull out what I need at one time. Same for blueberries. I’ve also done peaches, melon, and nectarines this way. To me this is a perfect balance of low prep and high usefulness. I even froze watermelon this year! I cut all of the fruit off of the rind, threw it in the blender and pureed it, then poured it into ice cube trays. Once they froze solid I popped them into ziploc bags and will pull them out as needed for smoothies.

  • christal b. says:

    From One Over-Achiever to Another: YOU DID GREAT! Your finisihed product certainly doesn’t look like you were feeling lazy, my friend. And you did this on top of trying to get ready to leave town.

    You did a great job! Thanks for inspiring me to cook up some chicken in my kitchen for the freezer!

  • Linda says:

    Made cinnamon raisin bread, chocolate pudding popsicles, and homemade yogurt this weekend. 🙂

    Crystal, what do you plan to do with all that chicken once it’s defrosted?

    • Crystal says:

      The chopped chicken will be used for topping salads. We usually eat at least one salad meal per day right now (a big ole salad with lots of veggies and topped with chicken and maybe some hardboiled eggs or cheese). The marinated chicken can be eaten as a stand-alone, over pasta or on a salad.

      • @Crystal,
        I’ve never even thought about precooking a bunch of chicken to use later in salads, pasta, etc. I need to add this to my rotation when we use the grill so I can enjoy the extras later on. Thanks for this tip!

        • Daisy says:

          @Stephanie Huston,

          The chicken can also be used in ♦ chicken chili: add chicken broth, black-eyed peas, Rotel, cilantro.
          ♦ stir frys: add teriaki sauce, slivered carrots, broccoli, zucchini.
          ♦ tostadas, enchiladas: add favorite salsa, put a line of it onto a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, roll them up, mix Mexican cheese with milk and sour cream and pour it over the enchiladas, bake 350° until bubbly (about 20+ minutes I can’t remember now).
          ♦ chicken salad: add low-fat mayo, sliced green onion, chopped apples, raisins or dried cranberries.
          ♦ soup (eventually. So hard to think about soup when it’s 110°: add chicken broth, and the trifecta (carrots, onion, celery). I found that spaghetti noodles cost less than specialty soup noodles, so I just break up spaghetti noodles into small lines (about 1/2-3/4″ each).

          I forgot. I also sauted some chicken parmesan sausages. We ate half for dinner on Saturday. I cut up the other half of them (3 sausages) and frozen them in bags to add to spaghetti sauce (instead of meatballs), chili, alfredo…

          My days are packed, so I’ve been cooking double and freezing the rest as I cook dinner.

        • Crystal says:

          Having precooked meat in the freezer is a lifesaver on busy days! I highly recommend it!

  • Val in MD says:

    Thanks so much for the link to “Catalog Living.” Hysterical. And I will never look at a catalog photo the same way again. 😀

  • Julie says:

    “Pictures of perfection…make me sick and wicked.”–Jane Austen

    Read this in “Passionate Housewives Desperate for God” last night. You are doing the Freezer Days to bless your family and I’d say you’ve succeeded in doing so considering your little girl helped with the oatmeal packets, you chose sleep so you could be a good mommy and wife, and now you have lessened the amount of time you’ll need to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner, thereby freeing up your time to be with your family.

    Have a blessed day! You are an encouragement to me to “do all to the glory of God.”

  • Cherish says:

    You should be able to break off hunks of the chicken okay. Great job!

    I’m proud of what I got done. Normally I just find some spare time, pick 1-2 items and freeze. This was an actual PLANNED session. 🙂

  • Kearna says:

    I love your idea for smoothie mixes! I’m trying that one!! Thanks for the great info!

  • Lana says:

    Good for you! You made the right choice! Just wack the bags of chicken on the counter and take out what you need. Really I think having 3 plus kids makes Moms relax, we just realize we can’t do everything!

  • Great accomplishment!!

    We freeze fruit for smoothies too and find that cutting the bananas in quarters really helps get a nicer consistency – that way everything else isn’t getting over blended while the banana is just being blended.

    I am going to try out the oatmeal packets!
    Are you saving and reusing the baggies?

  • Cynde says:

    I work a full time job and have an online cookie company, three teenagers and a husband. I desperately want better quality meals for my family. You have inspired me to use today and tomorrow to put some good food in the freezer. Thank you 🙂

  • marie says:

    Hey, well done on getting your sleep!
    All encouragements for skipping the perfection and getting on with things are recommendable. 😀

  • That’ definitely not a lazy day edition…that is a smart edition – using the time you have to still accomplish tons.

    I learned this time around, to cherish the time.
    I, too, only had a few hours to cook and I got a ton done in that time. The problem? Three days later, most of it is gone (including probably the same amount of chicken you made…gone.) But the time is precious, and we had three nights of amazing family time around the table with more food than my guys could eat. (And I was listening to my husband telling me…Let them eat…you can cook some more. ) 🙂

  • LOVE Flylady! You did well on your cooking day – you’ll be glad you did something instead of putting it off because you didn’t have time to do it perfectly. That’s something I’m constantly working at.

  • T says:

    Congrats on getting all that prep done. Every little bit helps. 🙂 When you got your peaches ready to freeze, did you put anything in with them? I have a bunch of peaches I want to freeze but I read you should put some sugar water in w/ them to help them maintain color, shape, etc. I don’t want to do that since we are trying to eat healthier. If you didn’t put anything in with yours, I am going to try it with mine. 🙂
    Thanks.

    • Crystal says:

      I just stuck them in freezer bags with nothing on them. Since we’re using them in smoothies, I think it will be okay.

    • Abbie says:

      @T, I really recommend Fruit Fresh. (It keeps the peaches from turning brown.) In smoothies, it may not matter as much, but I’m not sure. Try and see I guess! 🙂

  • Thank you for being honest:-) You have a lot on your plate and of course you need to sleep! I’m a fan of FlyLady myself and forgetting about the perfectionism really has helped me to actually get *something* accomplished (whether it be housework, meals, homeschooling, spending time with my family, etc)…*something* is better than nothing! You are doing a wonderful job with your family and your blog:)

  • Candice says:

    I have GOT to start doing this! The blackberries are just ripening and we’re freezing them, but now I’m thinking I should make a huge batch of chicken pot pie filling and freeze it – I read somewhere that you just put it in the bag and freeze it in the pie tin or in a bowl so you can just put it in your pie pastry and it can right into the oven – add 10 minutes for dethaw time to the recipe. Yay for inspiration!

  • I like the idea putting the oatmeal packets in a big container rather than small plastic bags. You could put the mixture back in the original tub with the right size scoop to scoop out the correct amount (a 1/2 cup measuring cup or whatever). This would cut down on the expense of the plastic baggies, the time to divide them, and reduce the effect on the environment.

  • charity says:

    I have had a hard time having to make myself adapt to the fact that I am going to come to the end of the day and not have a perfectly clean home or everything on my to do list done…..I have 3 kids 8mths, 2 and 5 and my fourth is due in April 2011….Nothing is ever going to be perfect and I just need to thank God for what I can get done…I will take the blessing of having as many children as God wants me to have over a messy home any day…

  • charity says:

    ha ha I meant clean home….above

  • Laura says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Since you are an expert at freezing food, I was wondering if you’ve ever put butter in the freezer, and if you have does it thaw and taste good? Thanks for all that you do. I haven’t done any meals like you yet, but I do freeze a lot of my leftovers now that I’ve followed your blog. I used to just refrigerate my left over dinners, but was noticing that the food would be left untouched in the fridge. Now I freeze it, and I don’t worry about it spoiling too soon.

  • lisag says:

    Wondering what your opinion was of a catalog house, I clicked on your link. Hilarious!!! Exactly what I need during those times when I’m bummed that my house doesn’t look like a catalog. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    Do you normally just pop the food in the microwave, or do you incorporate it in other meals on the stove . I always wonder if the food cooks nicely for you. I made a batch of pancakes for my son the other day, I even used whole wheat, and chocolate chips in them. But guess what, They stuck together, I don’t know why . I put them in a plastic bag, and right into the freezer. It ended up being a hassle for me because I couldn’t put them in the toaster quickly enough for a 3 year old. But I know I probably missed something. I know this should work for others. Any tips anyone. ???

    • Chelsea says:

      @Laura,

      Did you let them cool all the way before stacking and freezing them? Not sure if this makes a difference, but that’s what I do with my waffles. They stick together a little, but I just pop them apart and stick a couple in the toaster straight out of the freezer. I’ve never frozen pancakes, so I don’t know if that would work the same.

      • Stephanie says:

        I do this with pancakes, waffles and sliced quick breads. If you let them cool completely before you put them in the freezer you should have no real problem being able to get individual slices to come off easily- this also helps the texture not be mealy or mushy from ice crystals. If you still find that they stick too much then you can use wax paper to separate each piece in the freezer bag.

  • Jenna says:

    So glad to see your getting the young ones in on the kitchen duties.
    The other week I saw a single Dad taking four children into Kroger’s
    he was having a talk with them in the parking lot about earning their keep and how things in the store were going to go since money was so tight. I felt blessed to be able to slip him a $20.00 but I agree there was a time back in the 40’s and 50’s when if children were not willing to do thier fair share of the work they did not come to the table and eat.
    Everyone that could help did from the youngest to the oldest.

    For many years during the 80’s the children that were raised were spoiled into thinking that the world owed them certain things.
    The real world is more about pitching in and getting the work done so that everyone can eat they might as well learn early on how the system works it cost hard earned dollars for the food and we should all pitch in and help out and “earn our keep”

    I would say your little Kathrynne is doing an outstanding job!

    What a great way to introduce the work and food to a child.

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks for your kind encouragement! My parents raised us with a very strong work ethic and I believe it was one of the best gifts they could have given me! We hope to do the same with our children, as well.

  • Barb says:

    Crystal, that sounds more like what I feel I’m capable of. A little bit here to save time, a little bit there. You are still an encouragement!

  • Agnes says:

    Crystal,
    Thanks for you blog…..love every post! I have a question re: the chicken. What kind do you buy? Also, there’s a live poultry place near my home – do you think it’s worth the extra cost to purchase a fresh chicken?
    Thanks so much!

  • Cori R. says:

    I find that putting together individual packets of an ingredient like cooked chicken is more work than I’m willing to do and wastes more bags than I’m comfortable with. Plus, I never seem to get the quantities right! 🙂

    Instead, I spread out what I’m freezing on a sheet pan and freeze the food until it’s pretty solid (two or three hours) then dump it all into a large gallon-size freezer bag or a tupperware container. Since they’re frozen individually, they don’t stick together and I can easily scoop out the amount I need for any given meal, leaving the rest in the bag.

    I do this with cooked beans and meat, fresh fruit (like bananas, strawberries, mango and pineapple, even the leftovers from canned fruit), you name it. It’s super-easy and I find I can “freezer-cook” whenever I feel like it. After all, it’s just as easy to cook 1/2 cup of dried beans as 2 cups of dried beans! The overage just goes on a pan to be frozen for later. 🙂

  • sara says:

    Then how do you do about eating the chicken? Do you take a chunk and heat it in the microwave?

    sorry if this are obvious questions 🙁

  • You are so NOT LAZY! I have a 3.5 yo daughter and a 5 week old son and I know what a challenge it is to do even the most necessary things (especially on bad kid behavior days).

    I’m going to try your oatmeal idea because oatmeal is a galactogague and I’m pumping for my son who hasn’t been able to effectively transfer milk from the breast.

  • Great timing! I am giving away both Once a Month cooking books by MimiWilson and Mary Beth Lagerbord on my Blog. Winners will be announced on Saturday! I also have a few freezer recipes of mine posted that I have been using for the last 20+ years.

  • Sarah says:

    you definitely aren’t lazy! that will be very helpful, i’m sure. i haven’t been freezer cooking this summer but will start again next month. it’s so helpful during the school year for me. thanks for introducing it to me!

  • Christy says:

    I did my first ever freezer cooking weekend. I did it in bits and pieces to when I had time. I managed to hit 2 stores for supplies and get the following into the freezer: 2 lasagnas, 2 chicken pot pie kits, marinated cooked chicken for quesadillas, seasoned cooked ground beef for Mexican pizza, 6 hamburger patties, and 2 pizza dough balls. We also did church, Sunday school, waterpark and my husband works weekends—the only thing he helped with was playing with my son Sat. am before he went to work so I could plan! We had pizza for lunch Monday–I had a church dinner and we had some of the marinated chicken on salads Sun. night. I am a teacher so I am hoping this will make things run smoothly now that I am back at work. Hope to find time to do it again next month!

  • Shannon says:

    Like everyone, time is a precious commodity. And my freezer seems pretty full. I like the idea of fixing entire meals, but don’t have the space. What I have discovered in the past few weeks, having some meat ready to go makes a difference. I had quite a bit of hamburger meat a few weeks ago. I cooked some up and left it plain and cooked some with taco seasoning. Being able to take it out of the freezer and make a meal has been a time saver. I did the same with chicken I found on sale. I packaged some up individually, put some in olive oil/vinegar salad dressing and froze and the rest I cooked up and put all the chicken breasts in a ziploc bag. Last night I just had to defrost the chicken and slice for our chicken enchilidas. I would like to add muffins and cookie balls, but I just don’t have room in the freezer. Crystal, thanks for your inspiration. I have learned over the years, you have to pick your priorities and battles and those can change at a moment’s notice.

  • Dawn says:

    Love this post and reading everyone else’s who linked up. Got a lot of great ideas. And it reminded me to appreciate my small accomplishments – after all, it’s all a part of the journey!

  • Heather says:

    I browned 5 pounds of hamburger today and froze it is meal size portions…. LOVE having browned hamburger in the freezer…. makes meal prep extra fast!!

  • Janna says:

    I was just thinking about the “freezer smoothie” thing, Crystal. Hmmm…I was thinking of just making the smoothies and then freezing in ice trays…easy to just sit out to thaw first thing in the a.m., stir it up a bit and enjoy? Maybe? I’ll have to experiment! We LOVE smoothies I just hate cleaning the blender!

  • Kim says:

    Hi-
    Just wondering on the p90x diet, how much chicken did you originally cook for two people? Also, did you bake the chicken or grill it? Did you marinate it first? Sorry for all the questions, just really interested in following your footsteps. Wanting to try the new workouts to “up my game” and the freezer cooking is so smart. Especially with school and soccer season starting soon. Thanks for all the great stuff. When I logged on tonight and saw the protein bars recipe I almost screamed out loud. So excited to try that too! Keep it coming!
    🙂

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