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Impromptu Freezer Cooking Day: The Plan

We got eight inches of snow yesterday afternoon and evening, so we’re staying put today. And just for fun (and because I’m hoping to warm up the house a little more by using the stove and oven!), we’re having an Impromptu Freezer Cooking Day!

I’ll be live-blogging my progress a few times today so you can peek in on the goings-on in our bustling household.

Here’s my plan:

List of Things I Hope to Make

::Chocolate Chip Pancakes

::Cinnamon Swirl Bread

::Bag of chicken breasts baked and chopped

::Brown Bag Burritos

::Green Rice Casserole

::Freeze oranges (for smoothies)

::Granola

::Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

I’ll post an update in a few hours to let you know how things are going.

Are you cooking/baking anything today?

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114 Comments

  • Alison says:

    I have a couple of questions for you. I’m not sure if you were going to answer them in future posts today or not, but I’ll ask anyway. 🙂

    How do you cook your chicken breast? I’ve always used my George Foreman grill for this, but I’m wondering if there is a better way.

    Will you post the recipe for Green Rice Casserole?

    Thanks!

  • Jennifer says:

    wow i did not know u could make and freeze all this things m eager to know how u r doing it 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    I’m not baking (I’m working late) but the recipe you posted for pumpkin carrot cake muffins a while back has been a staple at our house : ) Every time I host a family dinner I get a request for them!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this! My husband is currently an over-the-road truck driver, but is going for a 2nd interview with a local job. I’ll be needing some lunch ideas. And I’ve been wanting to do some freezer cooking too. We make a lot of homemade pizza, I’ve been meaning to spend a day prepping the crust dough and freezing it.

  • Carrie says:

    Hi, Crystal. No cooking today-but I made the Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Heavenly Homemakers…and it turned out great. I was rather proud of myself-considering my baking skills sometimes. Here’s a link with pictures if you’d like to see it. Happy Cooking 😉

    http://myfavoritefinds.blogspot.com/2011/02/cinnamon-swirl-bread.html

  • Becky says:

    Wait… are you making and freezing the pancakes or just freezing the batter?

    • Crystal says:

      I’m making them and freezing them. I’ll just be cooking/flipping them as I’m going about making the other things. 🙂

      • Di says:

        I was going to ask this question too! 🙂 sounds like a quick and easy breakfast solution. My kidlets love cereal, but I think I’m going to try this when they need something different.

        • Laura says:

          My kids and husband LOVED these pancakes when I made them last week. As matter of fact I made a double batch and now I only have 3 left. So, need to make some more soon! THEY ARE SO YUMMY

  • Brit says:

    Oh how I wish we had more supplies on-hand. We’re snowed in too!

    I’m plannin to cook on Sunday! http://Www.livingwiththreeboys.com for recipes and cooking plan!

  • Laurie Cassano says:

    Everything sounds so good! How do you freeze oranges?
    Thanks!

  • You have such nice handwriting!

    I’m taking a vacation day today and hanging out with my little guy (okay at 7 months old and 22 pounds he is not so “little”, but still).

    I baked snickerdoodles and coffee cake before I got him up, and I just started crockpot chicken that will be enough for 4 meals for our family 🙂

  • Kimberly says:

    Hey Crystal! Love your blog! What is the best way to freeze oranges? I just got some big bags at Aldi for .99. Thanks!

    • Charity says:

      I’m not Crystal, of course 😉 but … I just peel mine, break them apart into sections, lay them on a cookie sheet and slide into the freezer. Once they are frozen firm I wrap them or put them into baggies and label and date. Hope that helps 🙂

      • Julie says:

        i had no idea you could freeze oranges. makes sense, though.

      • Crystal says:

        I’ve actually never frozen oranges before. I saw the idea in a cookbook the other day and decided to try it. I’m hoping it works well!

        • Robin says:

          Also, if you have oranges that are not edible any longer (have been in the fridge too long) you can quarter them, freeze them, and then throw them in a pot on the stove to simmer with some water and cloves/cinnamon stick for a really nice air fresher. 🙂 I had a bunch of the cuties that wound up that way. Just labeled the bag “smelly oranges” no one ate them that way LOL

          • Robin says:

            that should read “air freshener” sorry

          • Mandy says:

            Robin, what a great idea!! We always end up having to throw oranges away since my MIL works at a greenhouse and we get produce for near-free each summer (and stock up like crazy). Thanks so much for the tip! Now I know I can freeze them or turn them into air freshener. 🙂

  • Caroline says:

    It all sounds good! I’d love to see the recipe for the double chocolate chip brownies. Yum!

    • anne says:

      Can you please explain how you freeze oranges? I have never heard of that and would appreciate directions on how to do that. Thank you for all you do. Love your video series on groceries budgeting and your freezer cooking posts. Your are such an inspiration.

    • Crystal says:

      That recipe will be coming soon. It’s a long-time family favorite!

  • Rebecca says:

    Stuffed shells (enough for dinner for 2 nights & take-to-work lunch once for my husband and I), homemade marinara sauce (kind of a necessity for the stuffed shells but it makes a TON and I like having it on hand for quick pasta suppers), and veggie vermicelli (vermicelli pasta with tons of veggies & a homemade garlic/oil sauce).

  • Tara says:

    I keep forgetting you can freeze rice! It’s a hassle to make so maybe you’ve enticed me to make some this afternoon!

    I would get so overwhelmed with all the stuff on the list. I’m a one-or-two-item type of freezer cook. This morning I peeled and diced a bunch of pears!

    I like to use bone-in chicken for freeze-cooking. I buy a couple packs when they are $99/lb, season under the skin, bake, dice, and fill up a couple freezer ziplock bags.

    *Do you do the trick where once you’ve filled a bag full of diced cooked chicken you quarter section the bag with your hand to separate meal-sized portions? That or flash freeze first and then add to bag? Took me a few boxes of empty ziplock bags to figure this out – saves TONS of bags. Kind of a “duh” moment for me but I’m glad I figured it out!

    I can’t tell you how much I L.O.V.E having cooked diced chicken on hand in the freezer. (Ground turkey also.) Besides for quick casseroles (especially if you freeze egg cooked egg noodles too!), I feed it to my son or use it to make chicken salad sandwiches for me (no canned chicken!!). In the mornings I take out a few pieces to thaw for my 10-month old’s lunch – he eats it cold (but not frozen) so it’s a super easy way to get protein in him.

  • Nicki S. says:

    I’ve got beef cooking in the crock pot for shredded beef tacos tonight. I don’t think that counts as a freezer cook day, but it should be good.

  • We’re baking, too! Just pulled some pumpkin chocolate chip bars out of the oven! I’m trying to find recipes to use up some of this organic pumpkin I scored for 80¢ each through Amazon!

    I’ll have to search your site! Do you have any favorites? I can only make so much of Chloe’s tofu pumpkin pie!

    • Crystal says:

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins or Pumpkin Waffles are two of our favorites. But I’m not sure if you can eat those with your food allergies.

      • Ellen says:

        Not sure what your families allergies are, but we have egg/milk/tree nut allergies over here. I make Crystal’s pump choc chip muffins on a regular basis and use egg replacer powdered mix to subs for the eggs and it works perfectly. We also made these muffins the other day using apple chunks instead of the choc chips and they were also really great!

        • Hi, Ellen, my daughter has egg/milk allergies — and I have peanut allergies! I’ll have to give your idea a try!

          • Ellen says:

            I’ve definitely found that using soymilk and egg replacer (reconstituted to package directions) is pretty much a dead-ringer for the real thing in almost ANY from-scratch recipe! Cakes, cookies, yeast breads, etc! My allergic daughter eats better baked goods than any kid on the street, even despite our egg/milk no-no’s! Good luck!

          • peever says:

            I’ve done a lot of allergy baking. As long as you don’t have wheat allergies, it’s pretty easy. I also used a powdered egg replacer for the eggs, rice/soy milk for the milk, and coconut oil for the butter.

      • I think we could probably do the waffles pretty easily by just substituting almond milk for regular milk.

        The muffins might be a little more challenging with 4 EGGS!!! We’ve worked up to a couple of eggs mixed into cakes, etc., but that might be a few too many! Hmm….I’ll have to do some substituting and see what I can come up with…

        • Ellen says:

          Oooh, don’t bother with real eggs! Too risky!!! Use egg replacer powder, found at health food stores and Whole Foods, or order online. One box will last a lifetime! It’s a must-have for an egg-allergic family, and it doesn’t contain any other allergens in it, either! Just reconsitute the powder per package directions and use instead of eggs in any baked good. You won’t notice a difference. This product has been such a blessing for our family!!! http://www.ener-g.com/egg-replacer.html

          • I have used that in the past and it is great! Thankfully, the allergist thinks we can add a few eggs back into baked goods since my daughter doesn’t seem to react to them. I just don’t want to push it too far! I also use 1T oil, 1T water, and 1tsp. baking powder mixed together as an egg substitute, and it works pretty well!

    • Rae says:

      I got that too and have made muffins, quick breads, and waffles out of it (and some other canned pumpkin I found on markdown). Another thing is, I sneak a scoop or two into my son’s yogurt or oatmeal sometimes too. He will not eat veggies so sneaking pumpkin into things is a way to help him get some nutrients.

    • Carey says:

      I like soups with pumpkin in them: curried pumpkin soup (here’s an example: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/01/santa-fe-pumpkin-chowder.html) or chili with pumpkin in it (http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/2010/11/slow-cooked-pumpkin-chili.html).

  • Holly says:

    I really want to try your chocolate chip pancakes! Yum! I plan on making rolls today! I’ve seen a new trick on how to make perfectly round rolls, so I want to try it out! Looking forward to your updates today!

  • Lynn says:

    I love impromptu cooking days! I can’t join in as we are away from our home due to medical treatments. BUT….next month we are going to see our daughter (she’s been pet sitting for us during treatments) and I’m planning on doing a cooking day to help fill her freezer while we are there. Reading your posts today will help motivate me to come up with a plan for her.

  • Sheila says:

    We too have a bad weather day so I have a roast in the oven and 15 bean soup cooking on the stove! Yum!
    Thanks Crystal for inspiring us to jump in the kitchen and make delicious meals for our families! 🙂 Happy snow / cooking day! 🙂

  • kjs says:

    I have butterhorns in the bread machine. I will probably make rolls with half and cinnamon bread with the other half. I also have hamburger potato soup in the crockpot. I was thinking about making a cherry pie for dessert. Anyone have a good pie crust recipe? 🙂 I also need to freeze cookies for later…if the day allows!

  • Jeanie Eyraud says:

    i would like to have the recipe for green rice casserole please!

  • Cathy says:

    We aren’t doing freezer cooking but have a snow day so are getting ready to bake Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

  • Ellen says:

    aw, no pumpkin choc chip muffins?!?!? lol.

    Those muffins are a staple at my house thanks to you!!! I even made them with sweet potato puree (store was out of pumpkin AGAIN!) and apple chunks the other day, and they were still amazing! I’ve also learned to cut down the oil by using 1/2 applesauce. Yum!

    Best wishes on a productive day!

  • Jonnie says:

    I’ve been telling my husband we need a freezer! I hope to get one in a couple of weeks. I will actually be able to something like freezer cooking now that I’m home-schooling my DD8 (just started 2 weeks ago). I imagine I can use some of the cooking/prep time to teach my daughter math, fractions and such and have quality time with her. Even get her to help me make the menus and plan our shopping list. Could even have her help find coupons that match what we plan to buy. =) Can’t wait for my freezer and to try your recipes!!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Congrats on starting homeschooling, I know it’s a big adjustment! You can teach tons of science in the kitchen, if you can teach her to bake good bread, she’ll be ahead of the game!:)

  • My hubby and I made crepes for the first time this morning for our snow day brunch 🙂 love learning how to make new things! I’m excited to hear more from your freezer cooking day!

    • Crystal says:

      Oh, I want to try making crepes. It’s on my long list of new things to try someday!

      • Kay says:

        Crepes are super easy to make as long as you learn the trick to controling the temp of the pan. (If you see the butter brown/sizzle immediately on hitting the pan, it’s likely too hot.) I used to make them on weekends as a child for my family – and I don’t particularly like to cook! 1 cup milk, 3/4 flour (it should be sifted, but we never do), 2 eggs, 2 T vegetable oil, dash of vanilla (I put in a few “dashes” because I like the flavor!), some salt (forget amount off the top of my head but we put in less than the recipe calls for to be healthy). Mix very well to avoid lumps. Put a little butter on the pan, then pour only a very thin layer of the batter on the pan – resist the urge to add more, just swirl the pan until it’s entirely covered.

        If you don’t eat them all up at breakfast, then roll them up and store in the fridge for a treat later as dessert with some fruit (add confectioners sugar if necessary to sweeten and of course, you can go crazy adding whipped cream or chocolate chips on top).

      • dee says:

        We had a French exchange student years ago who taught us to make her dad’s crepes. (Her dad is an amazing cook.) Crepes freeze really well, too. Stack them with waxed paper between. You can roll up how many you think you need for a serving.

      • Laura says:

        I LOVE crepes!! It is my all-time favorite simple recipes!!!

  • SillyJaime says:

    I feel so negative all the time, living with my mother-in-law. I would love to cook and bake and fill the house with the smells of something delicious… but it isn’t my house and I dislike her kitchen. So for the time being, I’m going to have to live vicariously through you

  • Jennifer says:

    This is a little OT but we love the premade rice too, and my boys like it warm with milk and some sugar. MMM!

  • Melissa says:

    I’ve made applesauce, Laura from Heavenly Homemakers whole wheat graham crackers and I’m trying homemade yogurt for the first time today.

  • anon says:

    Would love to see your cinnamon swirl bread recipe

  • Charity says:

    I’m making lots of hot dog chili today…for hot dogs tonight and some for the freezer for a quick meal after blessing #4 arrives!

    We are keeping our eyes on Craigs List for a used freezer or fridge/freezer. We had a full size freezer that I would stock with meals before our last babies were born and then fill it with breast milk to use to make cereal for baby and homemade baby food, but when we made our 4hour move a few months back we sold it along with many other things to ensure everything would fit into the moving truck. Hoping we can find a good deal so I can get busy filling it up!

    • Crystal says:

      We’re hoping to get a freezer, too. We have two refrigerators right now (we already owned one and then the fridge came with this house), but I’d much rather sell the extra refrigerator and replace it with a freezer!

      • Charity says:

        Well, if we lived anywhere near your family (we’re in the Low Country of SC) I’d see if we could buy the refrigerator from you! 😉 We would prefer a full size freezer again, but at the right price would get another refrigerator. It is amazing how much you can fit into the “little” top freezer of those! (I could use the actual refrigerator part to store potatoes and other produce that stores best in cooler temperatures.)

  • Ashley says:

    I’m actually cooking today too. We got about 6 inches of snow last night and I had the same thought as you about using the oven. I’ve already made a double batch of your waffles. I plan on making some beer bread, possibly some muffins, and I’m also going to make about 20 lbs of mashed potatoes for the freezer.

    • Carrie says:

      Frozen mashed potatoes? Please share how you do this! My potatoes get gritty and wet : (

      • dee says:

        A friend brought me a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes when I came home from the hospital with a broken leg. It looks like they froze them in an ice cube tray and popped them out into a bag. You take out as many cubes and you need and microwave them. They recommend stirring in a little milk part way through the reheating process. They weren’t bad.

    • Crystal says:

      20 pounds of mashed potatoes; you go girl!

  • Anna says:

    Wow! I decided to do some cooking today too but not all for the freezer. We got 12 inches of snow and more coming! We won’t be going any place anytime soon.

    In the spirit of the mom who did the posting on working mom and presented some short cuts on cooking and because my asthma is sort of bad today, I decided on:

    Green bean casserole in the crockpot–cooking
    Chicken cooking in the crock pot to be used to make chili chicken soup and chicken soup
    Turkey breast cooking cajun style–cooking
    25 containers of pudding–done and in refrigerator
    1 chocolate pie–done and in refrigerator
    2 dozen sugar cookies–done and in freezer
    8 chicken salad sandwiches–cooking
    3 dozen cinnamon tortilla chips–made and bagged for snacks

    Some of my cooking is for meals over the next few days and for lunches next week. I buy Walgreens 5 puddings/$1 when is goes on sale. I have my own containers, make 25 puddings, let it set and then add a touch of whip cream and then seal. The containers are reusable. (We are a family of 4 kids and 1 adult.) I don’t use 1/2 cup but more like a 1/4-1/3 cup serving. Very cheap. I also take tortillas, cut into 8 sections, spray with Pam, flip over, spray again, then add cinnamon and sugar mix, then cook till brown. Serve with apple sauce as a dip. Kids love it. I am going to make chicken chili with barley later today or tomorrow for meals as well as just chicken soup. I had chicken already cooked so used it to make chicken sandwiches to freeze. The turkey breast will probably last a meal or 2 and the green bean casserole can be eaten or in freezer.

    • Crystal says:

      Wow; I’m totally and thoroughly impressed!

      • Anna says:

        I got up at 5 am (partially because I was coughing from asthma) and decided to cook before kids got up. Most of my stuff is not hard to make nor does it sound as yummy as your list. I just was on the same wave length as you about freezer cooking this am I guess! Now my family is playing games and relaxing.

  • Ana says:

    Ahhh… sweet inspiration! No snow day here, but I have the day off work and need to get some food cooked up! I’ve been meaning to get rice and black beans frozen, and I think I’ll freeze up some chicken, too (I’ve never actually done that… surprisingly). I’m thinking I might make up a batch of chicken curry for dinner, and finish making a “mexican lasagna” for the freezer (it’s been half-finished in the fridge for a few days).

    The pumpkin goodies that everyone is talking about sound delicious. Has anyone tried the recipes with fresh pumpkin instead of canned? I cooked up several sugar pumpkins this fall and froze them.

  • Today is my cooking/freezing day as well. I’ll be making a Apple pie and using the left over apples to make applesauce ( http://www.alittlesimplicity.com/?p=376 )!! I bought about 4 dozen of Apples the other day on sale at Safeway!

  • ellen says:

    not today, but did a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins last night for the freezer (this is after working all day!)… those are the one my son wanted….

  • BS says:

    Is there a secret to preserving the “fresh” taste when you freeze items? I have a very small fridge/freezer in the apartment and decided to make some double portions to freeze for later. I used quality freezer bags and aluminum foil and in some cases containers that seal. Some items were ok, but there were some that tasted…not so great! One was sausage I had fried ahead of time then froze. It was like chewing on a balloon. I just did all this freezing in the last 3 weeks so shouldn’t have gone bad. The sausage was wonderful fresh, so it wasn’t bad sausage.
    Any suggestions?

    • dee says:

      BS –
      Sometimes it depends on how you reheat things. How did you prepare the sausage pre-freeze and how did you reheat? I did a batch of chicken sausage that I baked in the oven until the casing was browned and crisp. I just froze them in Ziploc freezer bags. To reheat, I thawed in the ‘fridge during the day (took them out of the freezer in the morning) then tossed them in a dry skillet to heat through. I didn’t microwave because I thought that would make them tough.

  • Vanessa says:

    I just finished some cream cheese brownies. A friend and I are getting together for a “girls’ movie night” {I’m finally going to see Like Dandelion Dust!} and I’m taking some of them with me. Of course, I have to leave some of them at home for my hubby and two boys. 🙂

  • Nichole J says:

    I made our granola bars today! Yummy and the house smells GOOD!
    Bread was yesterday! But then when you have to make pretty much all of what you eat becuase of allergies you end up having a baking day everyday! 😛
    http://nicholejordan.blogspot.com/2011/01/allergy-friendly-nutty-fruity-soft.html

  • Stephanie says:

    Are you freezing the granola as well?

  • My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I’m amazed that you can decide to freezer cook “on a whim” –without even a special shopping trip to get the ingredients first!

    • Crystal says:

      I did a big stock-up shopping trip on Saturday evening (I still need to post about my bargains; haven’t gotten around to that yet this week!), otherwise I likely would have only been able to make mashed potatoes and beans or something. 🙂

      I did have to tweak my plans (we’re low on butter, so I’m subbing coconut oil in at least one recipe, etc), but was so happy that I had enough ingredients on hand to make quite a few things. The beauty of shopping ahead — and maybe also not having a huge family to feed so doubling recipes lasts us for more than one meal. 🙂

      • Alex Hall says:

        I’ve subbed coconut oil in my granola and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and they’re still delicious! So much better than the canola oil I used to use.

  • CourtneyG says:

    i enjoyed reading your list. i love love love green rice casserole !

    I’m not sure where you live..but have you tried Jambalaya ? I have a good recipe for it and its wonderful as leftovers!

  • dee says:

    I would have a difficult time without my chest freezer. If you are looking for one, check FreeCycle.org in addition to Craig’s List. The Energy Star chest type use so little electricity, it isn’t a terribly long pay back when you consider how much you can save on stocking up on sales.

    Thankfully, I did a big stock-up and extra cooking/baking over the holidays. (My 5 young adult kids were home and I got over zealous shopping and cooking.) I broke my leg a little over 4 weeks ago. “Shopping” the freezer has been a real blessing. So many friends and neighbors brought food the first week I came home from the hospital, I had hubby freeze a lot of it in single serve portions. It is nice to grab that bag of rice and have one less thing to prep.

    Even now when I cook after sending hubby to the store for deals, I make double batches and freeze half – stuffed peppers, meatballs, etc.

    All of your talk about pumpkin has me thinking muffins. I might pop a batch in the oven, and then the freezer, while I’m up making dinner tonight.

  • Julie says:

    Not sure if this has already been asked, but will you post the recipe for those double chocolate brownies? They sound delicious!

  • cynthia heber says:

    Love all the ideas. I too have a small chest freezer. It is full. Chicken legs, pork roasts, meats, vegetables that I bought from the farmers market and cut then blanched them and then individually packaged them. And Bread from the entenmann’s thrift outlet The bread that goes for at least 5.00 per loaf (3 for 3) for my husbands sandwiches. They also have other goodies at the outlet. I need a larger freezer.!!!! and for all the new recipies that I want to make from all that are submiited. I am new to this. I made eggplant parm tonight. it was easy. The left over breaded eggplant I save to make lunch for my son. He likes it on those thin flat and round breads Great blog.

  • Alisa says:

    Maybe this has already been asked (I scanned above and didn’t see it but maybe I missed it), but what are your kiddos doing while you do all this? I *try* to prep things and bake ahead but can’t seem to because my son is 14 months and all over the place. How do you keep your kiddos occupied? I need a little bit of that mommy advice! You are a PRO!

    • Crystal says:

      I have three and they are all older than 14 months, that’s my secret. 🙂 Seriously, you’re at one of the hardest stages I think: your child can get around well, needs to be watched constantly and doesn’t have any older siblings to play with (not that 14-month-olds really actually would play much, but…).

      I’m at a season, albeit busy, where I can do more because my youngest is 22 months old and my children all play together well. In fact, they spent much of today either helping, playing together or working on things at the kitchen table. Yes, I had to stop and help them some and was overseeing and directing them the whole time so that they were staying busy with *good* things, but it really goes fairly smoothly most days due to their ages.

      When I have a younger child, I’ve taken advantage of naps, times when Daddy is home or recruited someone else to come and tag-team with me while tackling bigger projects.

  • Mari says:

    I made whole wheat bagels, 3 1/2 dozen pumpkin muffins, breadsticks, and roasted a butternut squash to puree. It doesn’t sound like much but being pregnant with a toddler makes everything feel like a marathon 🙂

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