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Freezer Cooking in an Hour: Baking Mix, Asian BBQ Chicken, Baked Oatmeal

We had friends over for lunch and part of the afternoon yesterday, so by the time we got our afternoon chores and projects done, it was almost 5:30 p.m. when I finally started doing my Freezer Cooking in an Hour session.

5:30 — Open my laptop tabs to the recipes, turn on Josh Groban on iTunes and start making the Amish Baked Oatmeal. Go to melt the butter in the microwave and hear loud popping noises coming from the coils or something at the top of the microwave. Decide to forgo the microwave idea lest I catch the kitchen on fire and instead use the stovetop.

5:35 — Oatmeal is almost done and the children are already getting antsy. Give them a pre-dinner snack and hope it won’t ruin their dinner, try to remember to be calm and patient (!) and get back to work.

5:45 — Jesse calls and is on his way home from work. Must hurry so the kitchen isn’t a disaster and dinner is finished by the time he comes home. Stick the tilapia and vegetables in the oven to bake for dinner. Finish the oatmeal and start the Asian Barbecue Chicken.

5:55 — Ouch! Squeezing lime juice is not fun when you have dry, cracked hands (remind me to use lotion after washing the dishes; I always seem to forget and then pay for it later!).

6:00 — Two bags of chicken are done. The noise level in the house is rising. Must pick up the pace. Measure out the flour that I ground earlier in the day while our friends were visiting. Realize I am out of cream of tartar. Oh well. I can add it in later.

6:15 — Finally done — in less than an hour! Tidy up the kitchen quickly, pull out dinner and Jesse walks in the door — perfect timing!

The final results of my 45 minutes’ worth of work:

4 bags of Homemade Baking Mix

2 pans of Amish Baked Oatmeal

2 meal’s worth of Asian Barbecue Chicken

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83 Comments

  • Crystal, I love your 1 hour sessions – they seem so do-able! One thing I always wonder about w/OAMC of any sort is all the packaging. I mean…don’t you go through a lot of plastic wrap, foil, ziplocs, etc. because you’re preparing all this stuff in advance? How does that affect the cost of making these things ahead?

    • Crystal says:

      I re-use as much as I possibly can. All foil pans, foil and plastic bags are re-used unless they get icky or have raw meat in them. So, I think I spend around $1-$2 per month on bags/foil. The time, sanity and cost savings is every bit worth that. And, truth be told, I really use very little more foil and plastic than I normally would because when I make cookies or bread or pancakes, etc. I’m going to be sticking the leftovers in a plastic bag, too.

      • Thanks, Crystal! I don’t use plastic bags for leftovers – I use and re-use plastic containers, put cookies in the cookie jar, etc. I think that might be why it seems like a lot more plastic/foil/bags than my usual. I suppose that I could put chicken and marinade in a plastic bowl with a lid and freeze that, which would take away the need for a ziploc.

        • Stephanie says:

          I tried that before for the same reason but the plastic containers didn’t hold up to the freezer well, my food got frost freeze 🙁 I think the freezer bags are a good investment!!

          • Melodie says:

            I use plastic containers in the freezer all the time. I have Granny’s old “Sally Strong” containers that she used specifically for freezing. I use them for liquid items mostly. They haven’t given me trouble with freezer burn as long as the items are completely covered by sauce or otherwise liquidy. For items like meats that are not in a marinade though, the only thing I know to do is use freezer bags. I don’t know of anything else that works.

            For dry goods that are kept in the freezer, you can get flour sack fabric bags (the kind of bag they used to sell flour in before they started putting it in brown paper bags). Or you can get sandwich and gallons sized bags made from PUL fabric by WAHM’s on etsy.com. This would not be suitable for wet items; but for things like baking mix, it should be just fine to use that to pop in the freezer. That would cut down on the need for a little bit of the waste at least. (I keep my flour, baking mixes, sugars, coffee, and uncooked rice in the freezer to preserve it and protect it from those pantry loving mealy worms and moths).

            I have also been toying with the idea of using the PUL fabric sandwich bags for wrapping smaller portions of meats before packing several bags into one large freezer bag. This would keep the meal sized portions separate, while only using one freezer bag. It would also make it easier to wash the freezer bag for another use. I haven’t decided if it would be a good idea to try this or not with raw meats. I think it would be o.k. as long as I make sure I put them through the hottest, longest drier setting after washing them in the clothes washer.

        • Crystal says:

          You could definitely try that. I try to use reusable containers with lids for as much as I can, but I’ve found freezer bags are so handy and work so well when freezer cooking. So it’s worth it to me, but it might not be for you.

        • Carolynn says:

          I save my bread/roll/produce bags and contain the food in that THEN put it in a freezer bag. I also get the old fashioned storage bags with the twist ties…they atr inexpensive. I have so may freezer zip lock bags that I keep reusing.

        • Claire says:

          We have a FoodSaver, and you can wash & re-use the bags you make with it. The plastic is SUPER strong & sturdy; I even wash thoroughly & reuse after the bag has had raw meat in it.

          The downside: if you have anything that has a lot of liquid (i.e. marinaded chicken), you can’t use the bags; the vaccuum process sucks the liquid out of the bag & the machine can’t seal the bag either. I guess you could just have the machine seal the bag without using the vaccuum function (hmmm…I actually haven’t tried that but I will next time!).

          • Christi says:

            Hi Claire,
            You can put the liquidy mixture in a freezer bag without sealing it (take care to stand it up to prevent spilling – I use a plastic rectangle shaped ice container (the ones you empty ice trays into)). Freeze overnight and then you can vacuum seal it around the frozen product.

    • Nicole says:

      The Dollar Tree has packs of pans with lids (reminds me of some Chinese takeout tins). Depending on the size they have 3, 4, or 5 to a pack. For a dollar, I think that’s pretty good.

      • Patti says:

        I have started to save the wax paper linings from cereal boxes… maybe these could be used as the first wrap and then put the wrapped food into a plastic ziplock or plastic freezer container? I know the food I put in them in the refrigerator is lasting a long time – much better than with plastic wrap. And I have used them to wrap cookie dough logs in the freezer, then put those into a plastic container ( a celery container from Tupperwear that I got at a yard sale).

  • Sylvia says:

    Thanks so much for posting this – Ive been looking forward to it! Just have a quick question – Did you actually bake the oatmeal before freezing or did you stop at the “refrigerate overnight” step and will bake when you serve it?

    • Mary Ellen says:

      The oatmeal takes 35-45 minutes to bake and then it would have to be cooled to freeze. My best guess is that she freezes it before cooking it in the oven or it couldn’t all get accomplished in 45 minutes. This would make it taste better too than reheating frozen cooked oatmeal.

    • Crystal says:

      I stopped at the refrigerate overnight part since I figured it would be the equivalent of refrigerating overnight when I thaw it in the fridge overnight before baking. We’ll see how it turns out!

      • Sylvia says:

        Ok cool 🙂 I can’t wait to try it – looks delicious. Thank you so much for clarifying!

      • Anitra says:

        Definitely will be interesting – a similar recipe for baked oatmeal has become our go-to Sunday breakfast. I always prepare it Saturday night and pop it in the oven Sunday morning. It doesn’t take too long to mix up when I don’t have two kids pulling on my legs 😉

        I do think I might double it next time so we can have leftovers for breakfast on Monday or Tuesday.

    • Kristy says:

      I am also curious what your strategy is exactly with making this ahead. It sounds delicious!

  • Colette says:

    I just found this section. I can’t wait to try it!!! Thank you for the ideas.

  • Tana Reed says:

    The Asian BBQ Chicken sounds amazing. Did you freeze the chicken uncooked in the marinade or was the chicken marinated and cooked before freezing?

  • Nicole says:

    Did you cook the chicken?

  • Nicole says:

    When I make my baked oatmeal I melt the butter in the pan it is going to be baked in! Then I just mix it all up and bake. Easy.

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I don’t have the time for a full day of cooking, but I have already tried an hour session and love it.

  • Great job! I always pre-trim chicken and put it in meal-sized packages, but I never think to go ahead and marinate it. I’ll have to try that!

  • Kristina says:

    The Asian BBQ chicken is amazing! We grilled some and the spicy honey chicken from the same website just this week. I love Our Best Bites!

  • Tracy says:

    Crystal you’re going to convert me to freezer cooking yet! Great job on timing.

  • Amanda says:

    I’m impressed with how much you did in less than an hour! I’m curious– how do you go about grinding your own flour?

  • Hollaina says:

    Keep a bottle of lotion with the pump next to your kitchen sink or in easy reach to remind you to lotion up your hands after washing/doing dishes.

    I cannot wait to try the Asian BBQ Chicken. It looks like a delicious recipe!!!

    • Crystal says:

      Why have I never thought of doing that?! Just went and put one by my kitchen sink. THANK YOU!

      • Rachel says:

        I use rubber gloves when I wash dishes because my hands get really dry. You can find some fun rubber gloves to make washing dishes a little more interesting, too! 🙂

      • Sandra Lee says:

        I worked in the Midwest Regional Burn Unit at a local hospital and I learned to add 3-4 drops of baby oil to any lotion, rub in the palms of your hands and apply where ever your skin is dry. Overnight, you will see a HUGE difference. Here is Wisconsin the winters can be bitter cold and dry skin used to be a way of living for me. Not anymore.

        • Claudine says:

          I got several bottles of Dawn Hand Renewal free w/coupons and started putting that in my hand soap pump on the kitchen sink. I use it to wash hands and dishes. I’ve noticed that my hands were much less dry this winter when I used this soap rather than regular hand soap.

  • Kim says:

    I looked up the chicken recipe and was wondering if you actually used fresh ginger or if you substituted a ginger spice?

    Thanks!

    • Crystal says:

      Ground ginger, because it’s what I already had on hand. 🙂 Truth be told, I’ve never purchased fresh ginger before!

      • Kim says:

        I’m so glad to hear that. Fresh ginger probably wasn’t in my budget! 🙂

        • Carla says:

          Fresh ginger is actually pretty cheap. The price per lb. always looks high but you don’t need much and it’s really lightweight so it doesn’t end up costing much. I recommend giving it a try. Tastes different than cooking with ground ginger.

          • Kim says:

            Thanks. I will see what is available at the store next time I go.

          • Tina says:

            A tip for using fresh ginger without waste – store it in the freezer, and just pull it out and grate what you need. I have spent $1.50 on a 3 inch piece of ginger and used it for about 6 months! I does taste way better for marinade.

          • Peggy says:

            I bought fresh ginger this weekend for the very first time. I gasp at $2.99 per pound but figured it shouldn’t be too bad since I got a small piece. It cost me .26!!!

            Glad to hear that it can be froze because that’s where I put it and was gonna check later to see if that would work.

            BTW – I bought the ginger to make the Asian Chicken. We LOVED it!

  • Stephanie S. says:

    Here is a great recipe for lotion. It works great for dry skin from doing dishes. I use it a lot in the winter. It is also great on dry feet and heels. I get all of the ingredients at Family Dollar for less than $5 and it makes A LOT of lotion 🙂

    15 0z bottle baby lotion[not baby magic}
    7 or 8oz petroleum jelly
    16 0z vitamin E cream

    Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well with electric mixer.
    Spoon into containers and cover with lid.

    Thanks for all the great posts!

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks so much!

    • Ellen says:

      That recipe makes the BEST lotion! My mom has it for my kids when they bathe at her house, and we all love how “Grammy’s lotion” feels and smells. Now if I could just remember to buy the ingredients for myself at the store… 🙂

  • Rachael says:

    Thanks for the oatmeal recipe. I am trying to use up a 9 pound box of oatmeal I bought at Sam’s Club!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Ah Josh Groban…I often have him on when cooking too!! In fact, this Saturday, my daughter is taking both me and hubby to go with her to hear him LIVE!!

  • mandy says:

    Crystal- You could keep a small bottle of lotion by your bottle of dish soap. This way, every time you wash your dishes, you will see your lotion and remember to put some on!!
    P.S. The chicken sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I just put lotion by my sink. Don’t ask me what I’ve never thought of that before! I think most of the reason I blog is so I can figure out these brilliant and no-brainer ideas from my readers!

  • B says:

    I don’t have a dishwasher and something that has become a must in my house is Dawn Hand Renewal dish soap. It really helps eliminate the dry hands after dish washing greatly!

  • beth says:

    Crystal, you are very brave for attempting and accomplishing freezer cooking during arsenic hour. I know exactly what you mean when you say the “kids are getting antzy” and “the noise level is rising “!! Kids always seem to need our undivided attention when we are at our busiest and most time-constrained moments…lol why is that? 😉

  • Joanna says:

    I love how your posts show that you’re living in a real family, with real kids and real daily “difficulties”. 😉 I am going to make the Asian Chicken to take with us on vacation in 2 weeks. In fact, a bunch of your freezer recipes are going along with us to the mountains. 🙂

  • Sandra Lee says:

    Crystal,

    I too, like to have nutritious foods on hand. I recently found this recipe and thought I’d share it with you. The first time I made it I learned it produces a large quantity. Fortunately, it freezes well. It has a nice balance of yam and carrot flavors and it is such a pretty color. It really brightens up a dinner plate. Perhaps you will try it. If so, I hope you and your family enjoy!

    Carrot and Yam Mashed Potatoes

    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 pounds yams, ends trimmed, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 cup water

    In a saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the carrots, yams, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 25 minutes. Using a ladle, remove the cooking liquid and reserve. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until slightly chunky, adding the reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

  • Cassy says:

    No matter how organized I am, I read your posts and realize that I can do more! Thank you for providing the ideas that I will be trying soon!

  • chelsea says:

    Crystal, I love your commentary! I had to laugh out loud because that sounds just like my kitchen around 5 o’clock. Start preparing dinner…stop to change a diaper…pick up crying baby and keep working…stop to get someone a drink…stop to discipline a kid…stop to answer phone…the list goes on and on! Its amazing we get a chance to eat at all 🙂

  • BethB says:

    I had a problem with my finger tips cracking this winter so I started waering gloves to wash dishes (no dishwasher!). I felt like a 1950s housewife but it saved my hands!

  • Mandi says:

    I definitely am curious how the baked oatmeal turns out from the freezer. We make that all the time. It’s a favorite breakfast recipe around here.

    Some variations for me- I usually add choc. chips and then cut the sugar to under half a cup. (My kids want to sprinkle a little on top anyway.) I’ve also had success with doing half butter and half applesauce. (I figure applesauce is a little less expensive when we get it from Costco.) I also add several tablespoons of flax.

  • Ames says:

    Will you update us when the oatmeal comes out of the freezer? It’s a favorite around here and I hadn’t thought of making up a bunch!

  • Lana says:

    My 20 yr old daughter and I have to have Sinatra in the kitchen!

  • Janet says:

    Crystal,

    I think this post is the way we all feel. So it is great to show how you can actually get something done in between all the headaches of life that go on in every household. We all try so hard to have a nice atmosphere for hubby when he gets home but , if we want to get some freezer cooking in for may of us we have never stopped to figure out how to find the 45 minutes to even squeeze in what you managed to do here. This is our typical lives sooooooooooooo great that you showed us where to come up with the 45 minutes!

  • Emily says:

    My recommendation would be to wear gloves when you do dishes! I struggle with extremely dry skin and have been wearing gloves for years now. It makes such a difference!

    Eucerin cream works miracles, too. 🙂 Scented hand lotions aren’t likely to be of much benefit.

  • Carollynn says:

    I have been a faithful follower of yours for more than two years I think, and of all the regular weekly posts you have ever done, Freezer Cooking in an Hour is by far my favorite! I work three days per week and the other two weekdays are filled with errands and household chores. I reserve the weekends for my husband and children. So an all day cooking marathon was never a possibility for me! But THIS I can DO! Today, in way less than an hour, I made hamburger patties, marinated chicken, and Porcupine Meatballs! I LOVE THIS NEW POST! Please keep it up!

  • Ginger says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Thanks for the great recipe ideas! Try spooning out a little of the coconut oil on your hands before you do the limes/lemons next time, and it will protect them from the juice. A friend of mine told me she buys one jar for her kitchen and one jar for her bathroom. She uses it to moisturize and even remove eye make up! Hope this helps.

  • Aryn says:

    Eeks on the microwave! When the kids are out of the room, put a cup of water in the microwave and turn it on for a couple of minutes. Watch the inside. Do you see sparks? I heard loud popping noises and then saw sparks. The microwave had to be replaced.

  • Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful meal ideas! I just started to do 1 Hour Freezer Cooking and love it because it is so easy and very do-able!

    For the Baked Oatmeal…I looked at the recipe online. Does 1 serving of the recipe make 1 pie pan of baked oatmeal, or 2 pie pans worth? I was just trying to plan ahead and make sure I bought enough ingredients. Thank you!

  • Natalie says:

    Crystal,

    Thanks to all your great posts, we just got our new deep freeze last week, and I’ve been doing freezer cooking mini-sessions every day!!! You are loaded with great ideas. We love your green rice, and my husband has fallen in love with me again since I made breakfast burritoes. Thank you!

    P.S. I read recently this great tip on using ziplocs in the freezer: store meat in 1 lb. increments in those cheapy thin ziplocs (which you can discard after use). Store all the small bags of meat in gallon-size ziploc bags, which you can reuse! Brilliant!

    Happy freezer cooking.

  • debbie says:

    What chicken did you use, yours looks like drumsticks

  • Jordon says:

    Just wondering if you know how long the Homemade baking mix will stay good while stored in the tight container and then in the freezer?
    Gearing up for my first freezer cooking day!! In the midst of picking out my recipies and this is definately one of them!! THanks 🙂

  • Jana says:

    So I’ve been attempting to follow you in your One Hour Freezer Cooking. I made (finally!!) the Baking Mix Recipe last night, but only half the batch…only had enough shortening for it. This morning I made basic pancakes with the mix, and they turned out great! Thank you for the suggestions, and I’ll be looking forward to the recipes you will be trying with the mix.

  • Melissa says:

    Don’t you love the recipes at Our Best Bites?! My “once-a-month-cooking” friends (we get together and do a day of freezer cooking) and I tried the Asian BBQ to freeze this month too. Can’t wait to taste it! Check out their Italian Turkey Meatballs recipe. Soooo yummy! It freezes wonderfully and they are so delicious that it’s become one of our “repeat every month” recipes! 🙂

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