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Today’s 30-minute Freezer Cooking session

Since I decided to switch my plans and make homemade pizza for dinner tonight, I figured if I was already going to be in the kitchen making pizza, I might as well make a few extra things.

So, I browned two pounds of ground beef and then mixed up the pizza dough.

While the pizza dough was resting for five minutes, I set aside some of the cooked ground beef for the pizza and added some taco seasoning, beans, and a can of tomatoes to the rest of it.

This made two dinners’ worth of taco meat for the freezer — perfect for Haystacks!

I also threw the ingredients for my sister’s Easy Whole Wheat Bread in the bread machine and let the dough mix up while I put together the pizza and baked it. I stuck the bread in a loaf pan to rise during dinner and baked it after dinner.

So, for just a little bit of extra time in the kitchen, I was able to make dinner and plus put two dinners’ worth of taco meat plus a loaf homemade bread in the freezer.

It wasn’t anything spectacular, but by using the little minutes here and there to work ahead like this, it really helps you to be able to pull together homemade dinners in no time later on in the week or month.

Use your minutes well and you’ll soon find you have more margin, more peace, and more sanity in your life!

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  • Brandy says:

    I have learned that I am more successful with freezer cooking when I just make a little extra of the meal I am making or do little quick spurts like this while I am in the kitchen anyway. I love having meals in the freezer, but with two little ones at my feet all the time marathon freezer cooking just won’t work!

  • Brandy says:

    Oh, and what on earth is on that pizza??? It looks AMAZING!

  • Joy Y. says:

    Today, in my healthy families’ class I teach….our focus was “10 timesavers in the kitchen”. One example would of course, be the above. Use the minutes you already have in the kitchen, to get ahead a little. Another tip, was to “Be inspired.” It may be a blog (like yours is for me ;), a recipe from a magazine, or even a good friend who had something to share. A little inspiration goes a long way in the kitchen, and if it doesn’t save you time, at least it feels like the time went faster!

    Thanks for inspiring me, Crystal!



  • Joy Y. says:

    In my healthy families’ class I teach, I focused on “Top tens” today…and one was my top ten favorite food blogs. I put you on that list, and noone could understand why a money saving blog was on it. That is, of course, until I explained.

    We went over the “Top ten ways to save time in the kitchen”. I guided them to your blog to check out your freezer cooking in an hour sessions, and your sample meal plans. All great ways to save time. However, I think the greatest way you save me time, is your inspiration.

    When I’m inspired by a recipe, or meal plan on your blog, it energizes me in the kitchen. When I’m energized, I’m having more fun, and even if I truly didn’t save much time in reality….it feels as though I do because “Time flies when you’re having fun!”

    Thanks for the inspiration, Crystal!



  • Nancy says:

    So funny that you posted about your sister’s bread recipe! Just the other day I was looking for a simple whole wheat bun recipe and came across your sister’s blog and baked up both a loaf of bread and 8 buns. I didn’t know she is sister, but we really like the bread recipe. Simple and good. 😀

  • I’ve been meaning to bake another loaf of bread, I haven’t made any in a while! Last time I used the bread machine was for homemade bagels, which are to-die-for!
    I never knew your sister had a blog -thanks for the recipe!

  • Tracie says:

    Some of us are so empty headed it wouldn’t even OCCUR to us (ok, ME) to use a few minutes here and there for such things. You can usually find me at the stove staring at the ground beef for several moments, then wondering at the end of my day, “where the heck did the time go?!” I am so so SO thankful for smart people like you who are not only brilliant in the kitchen, but have the wherewithal to take photos to post later! can I please have just a morsel of your ingenuity/common sense/homemaking skills/sweet personality or must you hoarde it all to yourself?! I suppose I will have to settle for being the chic who can start a mean bubble bath for the kids. They think I’m genius. Wonder when they’ll catch on.

  • I love that you used the bread machine JUST to rise the dough. When I had a bread machine, rising in the temperature-controlled chamber was the ONLY thing I used it for.

  • Stephanie says:

    I love that little tidbit at the end “Use your minutes well and you’ll soon find you have more margin, more peace, and more sanity in your life!”

    So true! Each minute adds up to an hour, hours add up to a day, and days add up to months, months add up to years 🙂

  • Julie says:

    Your pizza looks delish…would love the recipe…especially for the dough. Thanks.

  • Amber says:

    Freezer cooking is something I think about often and “wish” I could do but always feel like it is too daunting. Now I have done baking days before where I made up a bunch of healthy muffins, granola bars, waffles and such and froze them for later. However I have never done freezer cooking for dinner.

  • Laura says:

    Your “home” not just a “house” must have smelled so good when your husband got home! This is brilliant! I need to do this more often! Thank you for being such an encouragement to us homemakers in so many different ways, Crystal! 🙂
    And I agree with the above writers that pizza looks amazing! gonna have to try that combo! 🙂

  • Gigi says:

    Wow, I have tried that bread recipe twice now and both times the bread came out dense and didn’t really rise… I used bread machine yeast, could that be the problem? I really want to love it and need a good and quick bread recipe!

  • Meredith says:

    I tried cooking ground beef and then freezing it, but my husband and I don’t like the taste when it’s reheated. Any suggestions? I haven’t tried cooking chicken and then reheating…. I wonder if we wouldn’t like that either. I need to make some cookie dough for the freezer and making homemade pizza dough is on my to-do list for 2012!

    • Andrea says:

      How long was it in the freezer? What type of container did you use? I’ve never noticed a difference if it is used up within a month or so and packaged properly.

  • Emily says:

    Crystal, what size pizza pan do you use with your crust recipe? Is it 12 inch or 14 inch? I’m not sure if it would matter or not, but I was thinking maybe your crust recipe is for only a particular size crust. Also, I followed the link to your original recipe for homemade pizza, and it doesn’t say anything about the pizza dough resting for 5 minutes, yet in this post you mentioned that it was. Maybe I missed it in the original post? Is that something necessary for your recipe and, if so, do you let it rest after mixing the dough but before kneading it?

    • Crystal says:

      Either size would work — the smaller size will just mean it’s a little thicker. The original recipe says to let it rest. If you let it rest, it seems you don’t have to knead it as long. I should probably amend the very old recipe with that info — thanks for pointing out that it wasn’t on there!

  • dina says:

    thanks for the pizza dough receipe. my other question is- how long does the meat stay good frozen?? I’ve been freezing stuff but i get grossed out when i see freezer crystals on top and i wonder how long i can freeze things for! Thanks, Dina

  • Catherine Hochschild says:

    Can I just say how crazy it is to me that two pounds of meat goes into three meals for you? Over here, two pounds of meat barely stretches for one meal! And my three boys are about a year younger than your children (respectively)!

    • Crystal says:

      Adding lots of beans to the taco meat helps tremendously, as does extra cheese to the pizza and a thick crust.

      I try to view meat as a condiment versus the main thing of the meal. I used to stretch it a lot farther, but now that our budget has relaxed, my family is enjoying having more meat for meals.

      Growing up, we rarely used more than two pounds of ground beef for our family of nine (and oh how we could eat!), so I know it can definitely be done if you get a little creative and get your family on board with going with a little less meat and a lot of other great stuff to eat! They might not even notice. 🙂

  • Patti says:

    Today I did some freezer type cooking while doing other chores. I downloaded an update to my computer (that took a good hour) and made granola. Since the granola was going to have to be tossed every five minutes, I mixed up some cookie dough which involved grating some lemon zest and squeezing some lemons. I had five lemons so I went ahead and did them all, freezing the extra juice in an ice cube tray. After the granola baked, the oven was hot so I made the cookies. I also set out some butter for a project later in the day where I made “butter balls”. These are flour, salt, pepper, and butter mixed that I then freeze in balls to use to make white sauce. So now I have granola, cookies, and freezer butter balls and a new program on my computer!! Yes, using little bits of time does help out later and even though I had a pile of dishes to wash, it was worth getting a little ahead.

  • Marishannon says:

    I have missed seeing the freezer cooking every week! This is pretty much how I do freezer cooking – just doing a little extra when I am in the kitchen anyway. It doesn’t take much more time and I am already making a mess! 🙂

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