Guest post from Krista of Krista Adams
I have enjoyed cooking and meal planning for a few years now, but recently I have been intrigued by freezer cooking. I thought it would make my weekday evenings easier if I had the option of pulling a meal from the freezer. But, I was very intimidated about the time required to do a freezer cooking session as well as what meals are freezer-friendly.
So I organized a cooking session with two of my friends, one of whom had done some freezer cooking already and had a better idea of what was involved. She was the one that decided which recipes we would make and how much we could cook in an afternoon. She also graciously did all the grocery shopping.
The three of us spent five hours making four recipes. Each recipe was multiplied by six so we each took home 2 x 6 servings of each dish resulting in 48 servings for each of our freezers.
We contributed some pantry items (seasonings) when needed, and our grocery bill totaled $66 per family (or $1.38 per serving!). Here are nine tips we used to simplify the freezer cooking process:
1. Buddy up!
Even though it was hard work, it was much more pleasurable being in the company of friends.
2. Plan ahead.
We didn’t have a good to-do list, and we spent a lot of time asking, ok what’s next? We would have been more efficient if we had created a task list and kept it visible in the kitchen.
3. Pick recipes with similar ingredients.
It’s more efficient if you can do the same prep for multiple recipes.
4. Overestimate on the time you think you will need.
We thought we could get everything done easily in 4 hours. But it took us over 5 hours, not including clean up.
5. Clean as you go when possible.
Don’t spend valuable time washing dishes when there are onions to be chopped, but when you are waiting on something else, use that time to wash a pot or wipe down a counter.
6. Pick the right kitchen.
You will need a lot of counter space, elbow room, and dishes. We discussed ahead of time who had what and who would bring what. We had plenty of cooking pans, but could have used additional mixing bowls.
I also had set a lot of bowls and pots out ahead of time so they would be readily available. But this just cut into our counter space and wasn’t necessary.
7. Pick simple recipes.
Find some recipes that are super simple and don’t require much work. One of our recipes included making a sauce and then adding raw chicken. Then it was done.
In total, we probably spent 10 minutes getting one meal done. We had other recipes that required more work, a lot more work, so it was nice to get one meal done.
8. Agree ahead of time on ingredients, cooking styles, and preferences.
We spent a lot of time preparing raw chicken by cutting off the fat. After the fact, we realized that the chicken probably didn’t need that much trimming.
During the cooking spree, we also discovered that none of us felt it necessary to fry the tortillas in oil before making the enchilada casserole. This didn’t affect the tastiness of the dish and definitely saved us time!
We also discussed ahead of time any diet restrictions and food aversions that our families have.
9. Ziploc bags are the way to go!
One of our meals was a casserole so we lined casserole dishes with foil and plastic wrap, then made the dish. It was a lot of work to get six dishes lined with the foil and plastic wrap.
This was also the last dish we made, and we were all tired at this point and ready to be done! We decided our next session we would only do meals that could be frozen in a bag.
Good luck on your freezer cooking session! It’s hard work, but worth it when you know dinner is in the freezer!
Krista is an engineer who works full-time. She is married and has a toddler. She enjoys cooking and meal planning. She is super organized which is her key to saving money, eating at home and most importantly staying sane! She also occasionally blogs at kristaadams.blogspot.com
Christina @ Youthful Homemaker says
I completely agree with all of these tips! They are all great!
We have also found that freezing the food flat in the Ziploc bad makes them easier to store in the freezer- it saves a ton of storage space!
What is that in your photo above? It looks delicious!
I’d love to know where to get good recipes for this!
Check my recipes page and here: https://moneysavingmom.com/category/from-my-kitchen/baking-day
I also post my Freezer Cooking recipes/experiences every Thursday night.
So which recipes did you make!?
One of the best ones from the day was Crystal’s Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole! https://moneysavingmom.com/2012/05/4-weeks-to-fill-your-freezer-chicken-broccoli-rice-casserole-day-14.html
If you have the recipes in a software program like Mastercook, you can make a shopping list that combines ingredients. Then you will also know how much chopped onion, etc. that you need to prep.