MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Revamping My Freezer Cooking Methods

As I’ve mentioned in the past few months, I’ve been simplifying and streamlining a lot of areas in my life so that I can focus on the most important priorities, not overload my plate and have time to “stop and smell the roses” instead of feeling like I’m barely staying afloat.

One area that I’ve felt needs some revamping is my method of Freezer Cooking. When I had one and two small children, it was pretty simple to pull off a six-hour Freezer Cooking Marathon if I did a few hours in the morning while the girls played or helped me and a few hours in the afternoon during naptime.

Now that I have three children and a big chunk of our day is dedicated to homeschooling, I’m finding that fitting in a Freezer Cooking Marathon is just not, well, fitting in. In addition, we haven’t been eating casseroles and instead are mostly eating simple dinners of meat, veggies and either fruit and/or mashed potatoes, rice or bread. These meals don’t require a lot of prep work ahead of time, unlike the meals I used to make on Freezer Cooking Days.

The past month, I’ve been experimenting with doing a 30-minute batch-cooking session once or twice each week — marinating four meal’s worth of chicken breasts, quadrupling a batch of meatballs, making up a quadruple batch of pancakes or cooking a roast in the crockpot and then shredding it and turning it into a few meal’s worth of barbecued beef. I usually tack this onto our regular dinner prep in the late afternoon and I’m discovering if I do this once or twice each week, we consistently have at least a week’s worth of meals in the freezer at all times.

I was feeling guilty about doing Freezer Cooking this way as it just didn’t seem “right” compared with how I’ve always done it. When I was talking with FishMama about the guilt I was struggling with in admitting to you all that having a Freezer Cooking Marathon is just not working for us right now, she reminded me that there is no right way to “do” Freezer Cooking.

It’s not about trying to copy what works for someone else or trying to mimic what once worked for us. Being a successful homemaker, wife, mother and home economist is about finding what works for you and your family and doing that — and having freedom from guilt about what others do or don’t do.

So, I’m going revamp my previous Freezer Cooking methods and do what works for us right now — which is just having a mini freezer cooking session once or twice a week. I might not stay as far ahead or have my freezer quite as stocked, but it will still save us a great deal of time. And I really don’t think it will end up taking any extra time and my kitchen won’t get so utterly destroyed all at once (though I might end up washing a few extra dishes by breaking it up like this).

I’ll still be posting an occasional freezer-friendly recipe, but I’m handing off the hosting of the monthly Freezer Cooking Day link-ups to FishMama for now (she so generously offered to take over the shouldering of it for me!). I may pick it back up again in the future, but for now, I’m going to guiltlessly enjoy doing what is working for our family.

photo from Shutterstock

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

102 Comments

  • Laura Jane says:

    Sounds like a great plan! I found that a whole day of marathon freezer cooking doesn’t work too well for our family. Would you mind sharing your marinade and meatball recipes? I’m looking for convenient and relatively quick/easy ways to incorporate more protein into our meals.

  • bethany says:

    Honestly, marathon cooking doesn’t work well for me either! I tried it and I just like my freeze as I go method. As I tell my readers, for our small family, making a 9×13 pan of anything immediately turns into two 8×8 meals – 1/2 for dinner and 1/2 for the freezer. Over time this really builds up and you still have things in the freezer as a go-to when needed! For whatever reasons, some of us are blessed with the “gift of guilt” and we just need a few encouraging words to push us out of that negative thinking 🙂

  • Krista says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! No one should feel guilty for what works best for them! Blessings!

  • Anna says:

    This is the way I do it too. You can always do it when there are good deals this way rather than spending one day, once in awhile and in my opinion it’s just as convenient!!

  • I hear you 🙂
    With a husband who is gone more than home {Army} and far from family I haven’t ever been able to spend hours on freezer meals – and that always made me feel like I wasn’t doing it right!

    “Haven’t ever” being up until this past Saturday where I spent the entire day on-again-off-again cooking up 15 freezer meals – alone with two boys it was a HUGE feat, but I was both determined to get it done to lessen the load over the next few weeks of preparing for our trip and equally as determined to make it a fun activity for the three of us. We survived victorious – but never again!! 🙂

  • Kelli says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you can change your way of doing things to fit your family better – we should all be flexible! After all, freezer cooking in any form is intended to lower yoru stress level, right? You’re still feeding your family healthy meals, so there’s nothing to feel guilty about!

  • Jenna says:

    I feel much the same as you and spend time throughout the month. If I make enchiladas, a make two pans and stick one in the freezer. When ground turkey or beef go on sale, I fry up the whole thing and then freeze it in dinner portions to throw into spaghetti sauce, etc. I often wondered if I ought to try your previously more “intense” freezer cooking method but decided, if it aint broke don’t fix it! Good luck in your continued “mini” freezer cooking- I look forward to those tips.

  • Freezer cooking never seemed to fit into how my family eats but I always felt like I wasn’t being frugal enough by not doing it. I decided that I was going to freezer cook my own way and make what we will actually eat. I make and freeze big batches of healthy muffins and pancakes for the kids (I haven’t mastered waffles yet), I chop and freeze onions and peppers so when I need them I can just grab them from the freezer and I make and freeze big batches of meatballs.
    I have two kids (3 1/2 and 16 months) and we just found out we are expecting number three (yeah!) so lately I have been feeling like doing even the above things are too much to handle. I am going to do my best to keep up with my mini freezer cooking sesions though because I know in the long run it saves me time and makes it easier for me to feed my family more healthy when I don’t have tons of energy (which right now feels like all day every day!).

  • Heidi F. says:

    I’m in the same boat. I now do very *simple* freezer prep like marinade frozen chicken breasts, brown ground beef and season for tacos, brown ground beef to add to spaghetti sauce the day of, and mix ingredients for meatloaf in ziplocks (and freeze raw). It’s all minimal, but it’s working..

  • Ashley says:

    “Any” freezing is better than none! 🙂 I’m doing good to just cook a meal each night…hehe. I’m REALLY loving that recipe picture at the top of this post though. Can you share the recipe???

  • Mary says:

    I think it is wonderful that you are adapting to your situation!! It has been our key to surviving with four kids aged 5-20!! (That and a sense of humor!!) My husband and I are finally getting better about cooking extra food up in batches-it does help quite a bit! We hope to move up to actual meal planning soon! Things are getting quite a bit easier now that our youngest is more independent!

  • Anitra says:

    We don’t do too many casserole-style meals around here; before children, I was used to doing one-pot 20-min meals.

    It took me until my daughter was 1 year old to realize that I don’t always HAVE 20 solid minutes right before dinnertime anymore. I’ve been moving more and more to meals that I can prep during naptime and then cook without needing to constantly stand over them. That said, I’ve been examining my meal planning, and figuring out when and how I can make extra portions to freeze – sometimes doing the prep work, and sometimes actually cooking a meal and freezing it.

    It’s helping my meal planning and my grocery budget tremendously. Someday, I may even stop buying frozen pizzas and boxed mac & cheese as back-up plans for the times I don’t know what to make… but probably not soon. 😉

  • Amy says:

    I have never attempted an all day freezer cooking day. I don’t think that I would survive. Instead we just make extra (if it freezes well) and stick some in the freezer. I make a HUGE pot of spaghetti sauce and freeze a couple meals worth, my husband makes an extra pan of lasagna when he makes it for supper, extra chili, extra vegetable soup, you get the idea. Do whatever works for you.

  • Go You!!!! Good job letting go of the guilt. You’re doing what your family needs, and in a way that works for your family’s stage. If hosting the link-ups were causing guilt, you are so right to let it go. There’s no sense wasting energy on guilt over “obligations” to your online audience. Use that energy on your family!

  • I do very very little freezer cooking. We eat fairly simple meals so I just don’t have a need to.
    Good for you for just doing what’s best for your family!

  • Dana says:

    With a family of 13, one day a month of freezer cooking just has never worked for us. I have found over the years that the most effective method of pre-cooking for our family is to simply make additional batches of something that we are already making!
    I also like to keep pre-cooked hamburger and chicken (cubed) in the freezer in meal-sized portions. These are life savers on days when I realize that it is 5:00 and I haven’t given a thought to dinner!
    Now that we RV full-time, I don’t have the freezer space to pre-cook meals for our bigger-than-average family, but I still keep pre-cooked meat handy for those days that seem to fly by. I also utilize my crockpot more for roasts and chicken, getting the main dish cooking in the morning while I still have energy! 🙂

  • amy peca says:

    Hi everyone!! I agree–mini freezing is so much easier for me than a marathon….I like the way it was put earlier,,, a 9X13 can be changed into 2 8X8 meals…I just made this recipe today and my normal “I don’t like spaghetti kid” LOVED this and even had seconds! I cut this down to half the recipe seeing as it was for a meal exchange program (it makes 1 meal for 4 families) Just thought I would share..
    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/big-batch-baked-penne-spinach-00000000039493/index.html
    I also do the marinating chicken and freezing, cooking up big batches of hamburger meat to freeze. I have started skimming a bit of meat off every meal and freezing pizza topping amounts….this is great to “doctor up” a frozen plain pizza or to make your own using the premade pizza crusts. Sausage, chicken, kielbasa, bacon etc…..This makes a homemade pizza REALLY taste homemade

  • Erica says:

    I had never done the whole “freezer cooking” thing until I found your site! I absolutely loved it at first then got a little burnt out doing it all in one day even though I saw the value. I LOVE to cook and get creative and I’m no where near the frugal gal that most the ladies are on here 🙂 However, I still make huge batches of whole wheat waffles, muffins, protein bars and countless other healthy snacks that my little boys (3,2) can always grab on our way out:) For dinner (if I’m feeling up to it) it’s not unlike me to head to the farmer’s market and just “see” what looks good that day and try a new recipe. I can’t imagine my life without spontaneity in cooking!

    • Laura says:

      Hey, me too! I like to make a meal around whatever odd vegetable our natural foods store may have on sale, even if I have to look up a new recipe before dinner. That energizes me, not stresses me out. I have a menu written down each week, but don’t assign days. I enjoy the flexibility of picking my dish depending on the weather and the time I have available that afternoon. You have to be organized to be a good, economical cook, but there should be some fun & creativity to it as well. No guilt!

  • shelly says:

    I think it’s a good idea just to have a couple of meals in the freezer. I got really into freezer cooking a few years ago and had it backfire on me when a tornado hit our town and we had no power for several days. I had just done my freezer day earlier that week and lost a few weeks worth of meals. Needless to say, quite frustrating!!

  • Apri l Jones says:

    I recently have been finding the same thing true for us. Finding a free day to do all my freezer cooking has been hard…so I had stopped doing it. Then a few weeks ago I made up a double batch of one thing every night at dinner (main course, rolls, etc) for a whole week and it barely felt like I spent any extra time at it! Thank you for this very timely post. If you aren’t going to feel guilty about giving up the freezer cooking marathons, then neither will I! 🙂

  • diana says:

    It’s funny you write this. I always thought the freezer cooking day concept was a little nutty. 🙂 But that’s only because cooking is actually a highlight of my day. I do compromise and do batch work just like you. Tomorrow I’m going to cut apart two chickens to turn into stock for soups and freeze the cooked chicken for other goodies. I totally agree that you should do what works for your family! So if it’s freezer cooking days, then freeze away! But me, I love digging in my garden for fresh goodies and going out to pick herbs to use for dinner. 🙂

  • KatieBee says:

    I used to do the long freezer day as well. Somehow we got away from casseroles; then we got away from freezing meals at all. Just got back to it after a year off. I try and cook half the chicken for shredding and putting away; the other half I marinate and toss in portions for grilling (or crock pot, depends on how lazy I get…). Ground beef and sausage get cooked the day they come home and put in quart bags. I feel like it works – I make enchilada sauce and freeze, then I just have to pull the pieces out and combine. Even chicken stew goes in gallon baggies, waiting for biscuits or pie crust to envelope it. Less space used, less energy on my part, and I still feel like I can put together dinner without too much effort. And I don’t feel guilty…and you shouldn’t either! What works today, may not in a few months – change is good (and so is flexibility)!

  • Celia says:

    What a relief! This is what I (sometimes) do! It’s easier for me and doesn’t require as much time at once!

  • Freezer Cooking Police says:

    Nooooooooo!! I can’t let you give up freezer cooking!! Would you give up one of your children? I think not. How could you possibly give this up? What is this world coming to???
    —-
    Hahaha…I’m totally kidding…I just had to play the devil’s advocate here. 🙂

  • lisa says:

    Hi Crystal,
    You have my “permission” to get flexible with freezer cooking. I have had a few “marathons” though mine are never quite as involved as yours but typically, when ground beef is on sale, I will make up a meatloaf and freeze it or if whole chicken is on sale, I’ll grab a couple and boil them. I have several recipes that use 1/2 of a cooked chicken to fee our family of 5. So, while I don’t have a whole “meal” in the freezer, I do have the makings of Chicken tortilla soup or Chicken and rice soup or Chicken enchilada casserole. I only need to defrost the pre-cooked chicken and assemble!

    Enjoy your blog… as a homeschooler, myself, I find I must be flexible with the various seasons of life!

  • Darcie says:

    Thanks for sharing this! When I first heard about Freezer cooking Day I was excited to try it out, but soon found out that a whole day or weekend of cooking was not going to work out so I did what you just talked about. Just a few times a week cook something extra and it works great for us!

  • haleigh says:

    I am interested in freeze ahead meals that are LOW CARB. Most of the freeze ahead meals I come across use a lot of rice, pasta, and potatoes (lots of casseroles too). Any suggestions!

    • Crystal says:

      That would be pretty much all we’re doing here. Marinated chicken, meatballs, meatloaf, fish, barbecued beef, roast, etc. You can mostly take anything you usually make and figure out ways to do some of the prep ahead of time in big batches, which makes dinner a lot easier throughout the week!

    • Lana says:

      @haleigh, Chicken Divan freezes well and is mostly broccoli and chicken and you could use reduced fat ingredients for the sauce if you want. I don’t like pasta and rice that has been frozen so I avoid those dishes.

  • This is very much like what I do. I can sometimes squeeze in several hours to cook, but often just do a couple things at a time. I’ve never been a meal planner, but instead for several years now I have kept my house prepared for 10 minute meals. Precooking where I can so that most meals only take me 10 minutes to pull out and put on the table. Best of luck to you as you transition, doing what works for you always works best!

  • Josette says:

    if anyone understand you… I do! I have had to just “let go” of a lot of things I used to do and just do what is easy, healthy, and helps the budget!

  • I switched to batch cooking as well. It fits better into our schedule and our diet. Whole food cooking has lots of health and time benefits. I spend most of the time prepping veggies (cutting up for several meals or freezing) and meat (pre-cooked chicken/sausage/pork along with marinading/freezing raw meat).

  • Ashlie says:

    No need to feel guilty!! My mom has done it this way for years, and it works great!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Don’t feel guilty! I’ve never done freezer cooking on a large scale. I still have one afternoon a week I dedicate to doing extra baking, but it is much more limited… pizza dough or bread dough to freeze; cooking large batches of beans, also to freeze; making instant oatmeal mix or granola for breakfasts. I’m much more likely to freeze ingredients than entire meals. It’s easy to put meals together if the component parts are already done.

  • Dawn says:

    This is one of the things I love about you. Always sure to be doing what works for your family and not wasting time feeling guilty about it! It helps me relieve myself of the guilt also. Thanks!

  • Debbie says:

    Crystal,
    Good for you for doing what is best for your family!
    We can always search through your old freezer cooking days for inspiration. And thanks also to Jessica (FishMama) for being willing to host future freezer days for us to join in (or just marvel at)!! You two are awesome!

  • Kayla says:

    I’m a health nut and make every meal from scratch, it’s always been easier for me to do one major “soup” day and make double- quadruple batches of other meals such as perogies, lasagna, etc. every once and a while and we eat healthier throughout the normal week.

  • Lizzie says:

    So nice to hear you say that with homeschooling you just can’t fit it all in;).

    Homeschooling is a wonderful blessing and is my priority. However, it takes a lot of time and a homeschool mom just simply can’t do it all–no matter how much of “all” she used to be able to do.

    Your friend is right–there’s no right way to make meals ahead. Whatever works for you is great!

    • Heather says:

      @Lizzie, Yes! Homeschooling done right is a full-time job! I think too many women treat it as something to squeeze in around their other activities. Just as a work-outside-home mom has to give up certain things, so should a home-schooling mom.

      • Kayla says:

        @Heather,

        I definitely agree. We started homeschooling our two year old this year (3 in Nov) but I was shocked at how much time I spend preparing lessons for one toddler! Not to mention adding in field trips and other “family” things. I used to have so much time, now I’m lucky if I can fit anything into my schedule.

      • Lana says:

        @Heather, Thanks for that! I homeschooled my 5 for 23 years and it was my number one priority. Four out of 5 went to college on full scholarships and the other one is an engineer for Honda. Keeping our nose to the grindstone paid off!

  • vickie says:

    That’s kind of how I do my freezer cooking -when I have a recipe I can double I make extra and put it in my freezer. Things like pizza, lasagna, and breads are great choices.
    vickie

  • trixie says:

    The big freezer cooking day doesn’t work for us; our suppers are mostly what you are eating: meat, veggie/salad, starch of some kind. For me, doing the meat prep ahead is the biggest time saver.

    You are so right to say that we need to be doing what works for OUR own families, not what somebody else is doing!

  • Kira says:

    Totally understand this!! This week I have been making a meal and freezing about 5 more. Mini-meatloafs made Tuesday for dinner and froze about 26 of them (MINI—hubby eats 2-3, kids eat 1, etc…), yesterday was Taco Soup and I froze 4 meals worth, too. Then tonight will be lasagna for dinner and I plan to freeze about 6 more. To me…it takes about an 45 mins with prep work (during kids nap/rest time) but then I have those extra meals and no mess down the road. Good luck to you!

    • amy peca says:

      @Kira, how do you make the mini ones? do you shape them into circles/rectangles?…just curious

      • Kimberly says:

        @amy peca,
        I make mini-meatloaves by shaping them into small balls and placing them into a muffin (or mini-muffin) pan. Some I top with ketchup and others with BBQ sauce or something else. It makes it easy to personalize the meal for different tastes and it’s easier to save leftovers.

  • stephanie says:

    Welcome to the club!!!! I’ve been doing it this way for years. I focus on what it available in our garden & sales. For example: As my tomatoes come in I make up a large batch of roasted tomato sauce. Each batch makes about 16 cups, which I divide into 4 separate bags (dinners). I now have over 30 bags in my freezer which will take us through to next summer. It really stays just fine that long. When peppers were ready, I put up 4 dinners of stuffed peppers. I try to use up those in about 3 months. When I buy meats & roast, I prep it all so I can just pop it in the crock pot. Yesterday, I had time & 4 packages of ground turkey. I made 100 meatballs, double batch of scones & double batch of cookie dough. This took about 2 hours & all took place in the oven & 1 load of dishes. I freeze the cookie dough in balls, so I can pop them in the oven for a quick snack or dessert for the family. The scones I make about 1x/month. Its a healthy & quick breakfast. The meatballs will go into about 7 meals over the next couple months & then I’ll remake. I was always in awe you could do so much in one sitting. That just never fit into my schedule, so I do small batches of stuff & put it up to make meal times more easy. I’m a firm believer in teaching kids to enjoy freshness & simplicity of fruits & veg. We use up whatever fresh fruti/veg we have that was seasonal at the market that week & then rely on frozen veg to supplement out dinner. We usually have 1 simple meat & a starch with 2 veg or fruits. It works for us & we don’t have heavily fat-laden fancy side dishes.

  • Diana says:

    I’ve always admired you for the OAMC but to be honest I’ve always done it in small batches.
    Last week for example I was going to bake a loaf of Banana bread but I had enough ripe bananas to triple the recipe and put the other two loaves in the freezer.

    I do the same thing with muffins, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, lasagna and meatloaf. I haven’t found much else that my family will eat after being frozen. But I feel like I have a good start 🙂

    Thanks for writting such a wonderful blog. I really enjoy reading it-everyday!

  • Susan J says:

    Absolutely! It’s definitely about what works for your family right now. I’m glad you felt the freedom to do this! =)

  • Amy D says:

    This is SUCH a relief to read! You are someone who I so admire and since I am not gifted in organization I try to glean as much as I can and seek to follow a lot of the advice you lay out. And with three children myself all the same ages as yours I find that a lot of the things that you take on are really great time savers and just a great help all around. However, I have been trying to fit this freezer cooking day in and especially without any outside help it has just not been happening. SO, when I read your post today I was so relieved. I love the idea of doing it in little chunks. I had been experimenting with the same thing myself and found that it does still safe time and dishes. It’s just really assuring to me to hear you say that it’s been working for you as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Andrea says:

    I would not feel guilty at all. When I first started really following your blog I felt guilty because I could never do the marathon cooking sessions like you do. I work outside of the home full time, I have a young daughter and my husband works a different shift then I do so I only see him on the weekends. I use to waste an entire Saturday trying to cook all my meals for the month and then feeling guilty for not spending the day with my hubby and daughter. Now when my daughter goes to bed I do all the prep work for the next day and if I am doing something with chicken and plan on having chicken a few days later I go ahead and do the prep work for then. I have also really started cooking a lot of soups, I put them in the crock pot and I try to make double batches so I can freeze some for later in the month. This has seemed to work better for me. You have to do what works best for you at each season of your life.

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m really glad to read this post. I have never done the freezer cooking as promoted on many blogs because, for one thing, I do not have a big enough freezer to store that many meals in. I do freeze extra stew when I make it, and make big batches of pancakes which are easy to stack flat in the freezer. And I will grill or bake extra chicken and freeze it for future use. But honestly, many of the casseroles I see women putting together on “Freezer Cooking Day” simply aren’t nutritious. That’s a big issue for me, personally. But I’m not judging those women, either. Each of us has to do what works for us. I’m glad to see you giving yourself a break and realizing that you don’t need to be Super Mom!!

  • Jen says:

    Look at it this way – Casseroles are always delicious and good! ~ But not always the healthiest option. ~ I personally feel, that what you are doing now – with the marinated chicken, veggie, and grain – Is a healthier opion. And what is even more amazing about this option, is that IT IS WORKING for you in your life situation! How awesome is that?! Best of luck to you! 😉 I expect to see some yummy “once or twice a week freezer meals” posted~ so I can make them for my fam! Check out our blog! I often have TASTY, HEALTHY, FAST recipes for familys! (and toddler friendly ones ~ considering my lil one) PS- You are on my blogroll~!

  • Carrie says:

    I also have three young children (and one infant that I baby-sit full-time) and that is exactly how I freezer cook. I make more of something I’m already making but I definitely don’t marathon. I can’t; I’ve tried it. It makes me stressed out, I get behind on everything else, I neglect my family. You should definitely not feel guilty. The whole point of freezer cooking is to make your life easier. If it’s not, what is the point of doing it?

  • Heather K. says:

    We are a family of six with our oldest being in college but living at home. This new way of cooking for your family has been working for us for years. When I make soup, I make it in the biggest pot I own. Leftovers are the next day’s lunch which makes packing lunches in the morning easy but also healthy and homemade. SOmetimes, I freeze it instead. By thinking on your toes in the moment, you can use many of your little bits of leftovers too. Last night when I realized I had lots of tomato basil sauce left but no more fish to put it on, I made another meal while cleaning up! I just threw a pot on to boil, threw in some pasta. Once cooked, I mixed with the leftover sauce. Got into my frig for the container of Parm. and Voila! a whole ‘nother meal. -this was packed in metal thermos for my families lunches along with some pineapple I cut up the day before. I also reused the pot I used to boil mixed veggies in that night and reduced the dishwashing load.

    Sometimes we do things the same way for years without really evaulationing if this system works as it once did. We change, our families change. Every once in awhile it is good to think on these things.

    By the way, thanks for the Groupon posts! Love them. Especially with the holidays coming up.

  • Renee' says:

    Here’s a neat trick for some extra freezer cooking without all the time involved. I have 5 children, run an in home daycare, and homeschool my children. When I am making lasagne or a meal easily frozen like that, i make 2 and freeze one. If I am making muffins or cookies, I make an extra batch to freeze. If you do this for a few weeks without touching what is in the freezer it eventually adds up to at least a weeks worth of food, ( free groceries that week) and less work! Don’t know if that helps or not but it helps us out.

  • Good for you! Way to roll with the punches and set a great example for your readers. I tried a freezer cooking day once and it was an epic fail. Ha! Ha! I love my crockpot and use it throughout the week and our evenings are calm…. We are also a meat/veggies/starch for dinner, kind of family! XOXOXO

  • Emily says:

    I totally understand- this is how I’ve had to do it too. I also have 3 little ones and am homeschooling, and have very busy weekends, so I have found it nearly impossible to manage a huge freezer cooking day. Instead, every time I make something, if it freezes well, I will make double or more so I at least have some stuff stashed away (things like muffins, pancakes/waffles, burritos, mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, meatloaf etc). This goes against my natural tendency to not want to do any project unless I have a huge block of time to do it all- but it has been good for me to instead do a little here and there as I have time. I call it “the value of a job half done.” In other words, its better to get a little done when you can than to not do anything at all. 🙂

  • Lee says:

    With 3 kids (2 I homeschool and 1 an infant) I have always wondered how you managed a whole day of cooking! I have always done extra on meals to freeze. Like yesterday when I made alphabete ministrone soup and put away 2 more dinners or lunch worth. I learned a long time ago that every family has their own style and way of doing things!

  • Rebecca says:

    I do the same with freezer cooking. I don’t have kids, but I am a teacher with several extra jobs (my husband is in seminary), and I don’t have a lot of time for a “big” freezer cooking day. But whenever I do have some time, I will cook a huge pot of beans and freeze them in meal-sized portions in zip-top bags, or brown several pounds of ground chicken/turkey/beef (the healthiest, cheapest option at the time– I have been finding ground chicken at a local store for $1.69/lb, so it has been that) and freezing that in meal sized portions. Then, a meal just consists of putting together the frozen items… for instance, our current low-carb favorite is a mexican “goulashe” with ground chicken, beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning, onions, chayote squash(super cheap at our local market) and cheese. It takes about 10 minutes to throw together, since most of the items are already cooked in the freezer.

  • kellie says:

    It’s funny I read your post and I often say to myself..oh yea I remember the days when I could do a month of cooking or only spend 6o a week on groceries ect….I laugh and think to myself her season will change and I wonder if she will admit it to anyone. Life is all about seasons and something might work in one season but as you add kids, or they grow up and eat more (as young kids do) or life hands you hurdles to jump what you do and how you do it will change too. Embracing each season as a new adventure and gift and not cling on to the “I use too” keeps you happy and healthy.

    I say all this as a homeschooling mom of six (graduated 3…3 to go) and a son who is physically challenged due to an accident and have gone through a variety of seasons. Thanks for always being humble and honest with your post.

  • This is exactly how I do freezer cooking, Crystal! The marathon thing was NOT working for me either and made me frazzled and cranky. Now, I just make extra food here and there whenever I can and have a continuous stock of freezer foods going in and coming out all the time. It is SO nice!!! On busy days (which are most days) I just love grabbing something out for a meal and warming it up!

  • Jennifer says:

    Freezer cooking for dinners has never worked that great for us. Honestly my husband walks in the door around 3:30, so I don’t often need help at dinner time. I prefer to do batch cooking and will frequently double or triple recipes and freeze those for the random crazy night. I concentrate more on making ahead breakfasts and easy to grab and go lunches since I am packing 5 lunches a day. It works for me and you have to do whatever works for you.

  • Nancy H. says:

    Crystal, I’m totally with ya here. I’ve found that the “just double or triple what I’m making” method works great for us, too. I’ve definitely appreciated what you’ve taught us here!

  • Charity says:

    Crystal,
    I find this post very encouraging. The mega freezer cooking hasn’t worked for me for a while. I have three little ones (born in three years) and another on the way, and have found it nearly impossible to be able to cook for any length of time without a meltdown (on my end 😉 )
    My girls (4yrs/3yrs) help with some meal prep, but at their ages I’m not comfortable with them being around a hot stove and such, and my 18month old little boy is literally underfoot…he likes to lay on my feel while I’m standing at the stove cooking, and although I think it is precious that he wants to be that close to me, I am always tripping over him and afraid he is going to get hurt.

    For now, I do doubles of meals while I’m cooking for that night and I do a little prep work and some baking while the children are down for naps. I have felt like I have been missing the mark because my freezer isn’t full of meals but now I feel encouraged just to know there are other moms right there where I am. Before the baby is born I hope to be able to carve out some time to do a few mega freezer cooking setions so we can have plenty of meals on hand for those first few weeks when I’m learning to walk normally and nursing practically all day 😉

    Thank you again Crystal for being such an encouragement!

  • Anna says:

    I would think that this newer way of freeze cooking is also a little healthier also.

  • Michelle K says:

    Crystal – I think a lot of us are mommies who work outside the home and really can’t devote a full day of our time to marathon freezer cooking. I’ve been doing what you mention in your post for a few months now and it’s amazing and so helpful. It feels great to have something prepared as opposed to nothing! CARRY ON, SISTER!

  • Lisette says:

    I don’t love huge freezer cooking days either. I like the cooking but hate the mess. I prefer to just make 1 or 2 things for the next week or so and repeat. Seems less stressful to me! Also, I feel like things get lost in our freezer if it becomes too overloaded. Waste is not thrift!

  • Jennifer C. says:

    I have been reading your blog for years and love it more & more. I admire your ability to accomplish so much, but also your honesty in admitting you can’t always do it all, and the guilt you feel. I have been struggling tremendously with guilt these last couple weeks, because with working full time and a 14 month old, we were eating out way too much, since either I didn’t feel like cooking after a long day or didn’t have anything on hand that was simple enough to make. I do try to do the freezer cooking you have described, just making extra with one meal, and that has helped a lot. Thanks so much for all that you do!

  • Tracy says:

    This is why I keep coming back to you Crystal, you speak your heart and I love it. You should know by now we all accept your decisions you choose because it is ultimately what is best you and your family.

    Now on changing up the freezer cooking meals I’m right there with you on not doing the mass cooking days. If you get a change Google ‘5 Dinners 1 Hour’ and there are several people out there doing that method of freezer cooking. I’ve tried it and it took me a bit longer but then I’m not very domesticated when it comes to my kitchen. (Hubby is the cook in the family.) 🙂 Anyways, it seemed really easy and not so overwhelming or time consuming.

  • Ami says:

    That’s what we do! I love freezer cooking, but we don’t eat casseroles. I’ve been doing the small-batch investment cooking for a couple years, constantly stashing food in the freezer. I tried the full-blown freezer cooking once and it just didn’t work for us, especially with the type of food we eat.

  • Rhonda R. says:

    My freezer cooking is basically browning a lot of ground chuck when I find it on sale and then freezing in 1 lb portions. I can start spaghetti, sloppy joe, enchilladas, tacos, etc. from this in minutes. Then I make up hamburger patties & cook on my Forman grill. I freeze in baggies with wax paper between. My husband pops them in the microwave & says they taste fresh cooked. I also boil chicken & freeze some cubed & shredded. For me just getting a head start on the meat saves me so much time. I think everyone just takes the idea & fits to their own needs. I personally thank you for sharing the idea of freezer cooking with us.

  • Meredith says:

    I find all if this interesting. I love to cook. I could never devote an entire day to freeze cooking. I would end up spending too much money on other days wanting to bake or fixing something different. The only time I make multiple meals are when I do things like buy too much ground beef and I will make two meatloafs, cook one and freeze the other. Or if I score some cheap tortillas, make two batches of enchiladas and freeze them. Or, if I make a lasagna…I think they are too pricey but the fam requests it from time to time, I won’t make a huge pan. I’ll make two small ones. Again, I have to cook every day. This is actually how I stop and smell the roses!

  • Amanda says:

    This is how I do my freezer cooking. I have four little children (6, 4, 3, 1, and another one on the way). When the weather is pretty, they will play outside in the backyard while I cook up a double batch of meatballs or whatever. Other times they sit at the table and draw or use watercolors while I work in the kitchen. Having a stocked freezer helps me out on crazy days and allows us to stay true to our debt-repayment schedule!

  • Erin says:

    Good for you! I really don’t understand how you did it anyway! 🙂 Plus, daily fresh veggies are so much healthier than most casseroles, which are so often starch based!

  • Rachael says:

    This is pretty much what I do, too, but I have found it tremendously helpful to make many, many freezer meals prior to having a baby. It takes me about 2 months before I have time to cook anything. I have also found it helpful to stock the freezer with super-easy dinners, such as frozen pizzas, so we don’t even have to worry about buying groceries post-baby.

  • Aimee says:

    No guilt!! I really don’t believe God’s desire for us is to fret and feel guilt all the time, especially about something like freezer cooking! 🙂

    The reason you’ve needed to adapt is really the reason I never took up freezer cooking. We try to stick with a protein and fresh vegetables/fruit sides with a carb so freezer cooking doesn’t really help much. I do try to freeze things like extra muffins or if I make a casserole, halving it and freezing the other half.

    My one exception to this was when I was expecting and shortly after…I did our local Let’s Dish and it was a real lifesaver!

  • Stacie says:

    That is exactly how I do freezer cooking! I always have about a weeks worth of meals in the freezer but it is not from marathon of cooking! I too have three small kiddos and can’t swing a cooking marathon. The other thing is that I don’t love the idea of eating the same meals every week for a month. We also like to eat fresh and simple but great quality meals. I have found that if you at least double each recipe you are making (be it, casseroles, marinating meat, chicken parmigiana, stir fry, waffles, muffins…)

    I can have plenty in the freezer for my family that way. I have also found that since I love taking a meal to someone in need this freezer meal method works great! I am way more able and likely to take a meal to a friend whenever they need it if I am not doing tons of extra work for it! What a treat for me to get to pull a meal out and be blessed by being able to give it away!

  • Loved the post Crystal but that picture is pretty unappetizing (ugh)! Reminds me of those cookbooks from the 50’s. LOL.

  • Theresa says:

    I am the same way with freezer cooking, I just don’t have the time or endurance for a huge day of it. I prefer to just cook extra once or twice a week and then freeze. It keeps my freezer full and me from pulling my hair out.

  • Melanie says:

    This type of freezer cooking works much better for me, too, since I rarely have more than a couple hours of help with our three kids on a Saturday…and rarely more than about an hour and a half of time during the week when the two youngest are napping. (Our oldest is in school.) Might implement freezer cooking marathons when they’re all older, but it just doesn’t work for me right now. A couple things that work for me:
    1) Cooking a whole chicken, shredding the meat and freezing it in portions to take out for casseroles, stir fry’s or whatever.
    2) Browning 3-5 pounds of ground beef and freezing it in portions, too.
    3) Halving my casserole/lasagna type meals so I can bake one and stick the second in the freezer…or doubling any good freezable recipe and doing the same thing.
    It’s my very scaled down version of freezer cooking, but it works for me for now!

  • shelly says:

    Would love your recipes/”how to” for your marinated chicken, meatballs, fish, barbecued beef, & roast!!

  • I have both been where you are and am sort of still there, but sort of coming back out of it. My kids are 2, 3, 8 and 9. The older 2 help prepare meals as part of their “domestic arts” curriculum. This gives me 2 extra sets of hands helping me to prepare the daily meals and allows us to put up more food than I was able to do in the last few years. Of course, the littlest one still makes it difficult and he has recently stopped his afternoon nap on most days. Some days I am happy to just get the meals for that day prepared, but I know that in another few years, this too will have passed. Then I will have 5 of us able to help in the meal prep and I am sure we will have LOTS of frozen meals. There is a time for every season and that is nothing to feel guilty about. This season will pass and you will re-assess your plans at that time and determine again what works best for your family.

  • Lorie says:

    This is what I do, too. The other day I made 2.5lbs of ground beef into meatballs. We used some for dinner that night and the rest are in the freezer. I first freeze them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper then I transfer them to a baggie. This way they’re individually frozen and I can take out the number we need. Tonight we had chicken. I divided the bag of chicken into 3 portion, 1 for tonight, 1 I made into chicken tacos and froze, and the 3rd is in the fridge marinating in a greek marinade. I didn’t have time to cook it tonight so I’ll probably cook it tomorrow and freeze. I hope to be able to cook up another batch of ground beef to freeze. All this along with some other meals will last us several weeks. I also have some muffins and bananas in the freezer and have slowly but surely built up a small stockpile of homemade baby food for my 8mo DS.

  • I have 5 small kids (age 7 and under) and also homeschool, and although I LOVE having meals in the freezer for those crazy days, doing a month’s worth of freezer cooking has never worked well for me either. I usually do what you do–there are a few recipes that I can easily make extra of and freeze some for another “fallback” meal later in the month. It works well for me! It also means I often have meals in the freezer that I can share with others (new moms, etc).

    I also just joined a freezer meal swap group. There are 10 of us, so we first meet and decide on recipes, then go home and make 10 of one meal (Shredded BBQ Chicken x10, for example), keep one, and give one to everyone else. They each make a different meal (just the entree) and we swap. You come home with 9 other meals, so with your own, you have 10 different meals in the freezer for the month. This way, you only have to make one recipe–and you can either do it all at once or spread it through the month if you want to, freezing a few meals at a time until it is time to swap. We’ve only swapped once so far, but so far I love the idea! Tonight we had someone else’s homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I thought of you on the weekend, when I discovered that our basement fridge had been unplugged for about a day! I had to add stewing four packages of chicken, marinating a roast for the next day, and crockpotting ribs and pork chops to my already busy day. On the other hand, I have all that meat cooked up in the freezer, ready to go. :~)

  • Dawn says:

    One lesson that has helped so much through the years is to realize that there are different “seasons of life.” There are times when you must acclimate to that particular stage of life, whether caring for a loved one or adjusting to a new baby. This has helped in dealing with guilt feelings – realize you’re in that particular season; it will pass soon enough, but while you’re in that state, adjust your life to most effectively handle the circumstances. It’s just a season!

  • I did 30 days freezer meals when the kids were teens.Went to 7 day freezer meals when they were moving out, in and back out.Now do a couple extra servings of what ever most nights until I have about 10-14 meals in the freezer.Gives us lunches when there is no plan overs or if I end up working out of state.

  • Angie says:

    I am relieved to hear this. When I first heard about freezer cooking, the idea of spending an entire day cooking one-month’s worth of meals seemed overwhelming. And I only have 2 small children and don’t homeschool. But I do work 25 hours a week so I guess that takes some of my time.

    I’ve never actually tried the cook-for-the-entire-month method, but I have tried to double, triple, quadruple method when I made dinners – making one meal for that night and freezing the rest for later. This method works better for me. Really, who wants to spend an entire day cooking, even if it is only once a month. I don’t think the once a month method really even saves time, but rather concentrates meal prep time all into one day. I find it less stressfull to spread out the cooking.

    I do find it helps to have a weekly meal plan in place to avoid that 5 o’clock dinner panick hour.

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *