I’m sure that you have seen posts on other blogs in which women host Freezer Cooking Days during which they take one day to cook several meals or parts of meals for their freezer.
Frankly, cooking all day long overwhelms me–I don’t care how long it keeps me out of the kitchen! I prefer to do freezer cooking over time. So what does that look like?
Click here for my Simple Freezer Cooking Meal Plans!
Easy Freezer Cooking has several components:
I watch weekly sale prices and purchase meat and other ingredients in bulk when they hit the lowest price. For example, in my area boneless skinless chicken breasts go on sale for $1.99/lb regularly.
When I see them for $1.78/lb or less, I buy as much as I can afford which is usually one to two months worth. I place some of the meat in plastic zipper bags in meal size portions and place them in the freezer. I bake and shred some of the meat and place it into zipper freezer bags in meal size portions. The frozen chicken can be used in soup, enchiladas or casseroles. (See my 8 Dinners in 1 Hour Chicken Meal Plan here.)
I also find over-ripe bananas for as little as $.25 cents a pound. We eat as many as we can and freeze the rest in zipper bags for later use in smoothies or baking. My children will even eat them straight from the freezer like popsicles!
Many foods are easily frozen for later use. I chop onions and green peppers for use in recipes, freeze blueberries purchased on sale for use in baking and smoothies and freeze yogurt I find on clearance. If you are going to freeze vegetables, just make sure to lightly steam them before freezing.
Rather than freezing my ingredients raw, I sometimes pre-cook them before freezing. My favorite food to cook ahead and freeze is ground beef which I have purchased on sale. I brown it with onions, salt and pepper and place it in plastic zipper bags for later use in tacos, casseroles and chili. Click here to see what I did with 20 lbs of ground beef I purchased from Zaycon Foods.
As I mentioned above, I also boil or bake chicken breasts, shred them and place them in freezer zipper bags for quick enchiladas, chicken casseroles and chicken salad. Brown rice and beans are also great foods to cook ahead. Click here to see how I prepare beans for the freezer.
Another quick way to fill your freezer is to double time consuming recipes like lasagna. It takes only a few minutes to make another casserole when I already have the ingredients on the counter. By cooking two and freezing one, I then have an easy meal for later.
You can also bake double batches of bread or muffins and freeze them. Frozen muffins can quickly be reheated and served for a quick breakfast.
Leftovers can easily go to waste but I place them in the freezer. Single ingredients like cooked ground beef, roast chicken and vegetables can be used later in soup or chili. Casseroles can be frozen in single servings for quick lunches later.
Freezing leftovers not only saves time it also saves money because the food is not left hiding in the back of the fridge to spoil.
Easy Freezer Cooking saves my money and my sanity! It keeps me out of the drive-through, helps me to get dinner on the table quickly and provides variety in our diet when we have one of those “Oh no, spaghetti again!” weeks.
Watch my Easy Freezer Cooking Video on You Tube!
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Jennifer Hoffman says
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Kimberlee Stokes says
I am so glad Jennifer! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Jennifer G says
I have managed to fill my chest freezer and my upright freezer (the one in my side-by-side fridge) over the last couple of months by freezer cooking in small batches. Got a new baby coming in a week, want to be prepared with easy-ish meals…and a meal plan so I remember (to use) what I have in the freezer.
Good for you Jennifer! You were smart to plan ahead.
One way to create more space in the freezer is to place items in a ziploc bag and flatten them, and freeze on a baking tray.
I have also frozen browned hamburger meat separated on a baking tray, also onions, green peppers, etc. then placed in a bag so that I can just scoop out what I need, without needing to use several bags. Sometimes they clump a bit, but can usually easily be broken apart by using a fork.
I also like to separate leftovers before serving dinner so we know we have enough left over for a meal. I do the same with other things like cookies, cupcakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, cornbread and brownies – dole out a serving sized portion for everyone, and freeze the rest.
If we have soup leftovers, they can be frozen in muffin tins, then popped out and placed in a bag – these are great to pull out for a quick lunch.
I make pancake mix from scratch. I store some in the pantry in zip lock bags with out the liquid ingredients added and then I make some with all the liquids added and store in zip lock bags in the freezer . Then all I have to do is thaw on counter for a few minutes , cut small hole in bag and I have a mess free quick way to make homemade pancakes .
Ooh–that’s smart Steph! Thanks for sharing.
When you freeze your meals/ casserols, what type of container do you place it in? Thanks
Hi Chemagne! Most of the time I use plastic freezer zipper bags, but I have used foil pans and glass containers. You just have to be careful when using glass to let the container come to room temperature before putting it in the oven or let it preheat with the oven. Cold glass and hot ovens don’t mix! 🙂
This site is a LIFE SAVER!!! I would have never thought of half the stuff you have on here! I love this!!!! Thank you so much!
I am so glad Marini. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
Samantha Koger says
I need to learn how to save, I spend about $130 weekly on groceries for a family of five. We never seem to catchup on Bills. We are always behind. Help!!!
Hi Samantha! Did you see my free e-book on saving on groceries? Here is a link to more info: https://thepeacefulmom.com/2011/08/19/free-e-book-save-more-clip-less/.
Brianne Thomas says
I do a lot of this as well. I make lots of muffins and pancakes and place them in the freezer for quick and healthy breakfasts. I dice onions, peppers and celery and place them in snack size storage bags then place all of those small bags into a gallon size freezer bag. I can get a 5 lb bag of fresh carrots for about $2 right now so I buy one or two of those at a time. I peel them, slice them and stem them for about 3 minutes then ration them out into snack size bags, placing all of the small bags into a gallon size freezer bag. This is much cheaper and healthier than canned. It makes cooking dinner a lot faster when 90% of the prep work is already done. I also freeze lasagna and soups. I have also started adding marinades to chicken and steak before placing the bags into the freezer. I love your blog!! Thanks!
Great tips Brianne–thanks!
I have started doing this recently. I would love to have a day to cook but I have an 8 month old so that isn’t going to happen. The only thing that stinks is I don’t have the room. We are living in England (we are American) and the freezers are much smaller here and they have drawers. No space for a deep freezer…so I just make as much as I can shove in there. It gets a bit tight with frozen baby food too :P. These are great ideas!
We often have veggies left over and I just stick them in a plastic bag. Every few days I keep adding leftovers to it and then eventually I have enough to make a veggie soup in the crockpot. Super easy!
Really great idea–thanks!
I have just started freezing food…I did brown rice, red kidney beans, cut up 8lb of back bacon and frozen them diner portons. I even cut up 8lbs of red onions and I have some red peppers I have cut up. My kids think I’m crazy. I’m trying some some to freeze this week and I may try to may some squash and cook it and freeze that too. Any suggestions for other items… thanks 🙂
Wow–Good work Vicki! I bake chicken, shred it and freeze it; bananas, berries, mango, peach slices for smoothies; baked goods like bread and pancakes. My friend makes extra mash potatoes and freezes them, although I have never tried this. Making an extra batch of soup and freezing it works well too.
christine del says
One of the best things I have ever been told was “You are not a short order cook!” And so from this I realized I don’t have to cook dinner right before dinner is to be served. Now I freezer cooker (I am an half day cooker) and I love it. I am so glad I do this now.
It makes things much easier, doesn’t it Christine?
I would love to try the freezing technique but find that alot of the food I freeze gets freezer burn easily. What can I do to prevent this? Other then buying a food saver machine (It’s not in the budget)
I have not had a problems with freezer burn if I remove as much air as possible from the bags and use them in a timely manner. Tightly wrap all food, write the date on it and make sure to rotate the contents of your freezer (for example, place newer foods under and behind older foods). Also check the temperature settings for your freezer. Freezer temperatures above 0 degrees Fahrenheit can cause freezer burn.
If your food does get freezer burn (which is basically just drying out) and you don’t want to waste it, try to use it in a dish with heavy sauce so that you don’t notice the taste.
Hope this helps. 🙂
Ziplock makes freezer bags with a tiny hole in it and a sort of reverse air pump, they’re not expensive and are supposed to be really good for getting the Food Saver results. Maybe try that?? Let us know how it works if you do! 🙂
I also wanted to add that soups are swesome freezer foods. I’ll cook a big batch if chili or homemade potato or tomato soup (which just taste better than canne din my opinion) and will either our them into a heavy duty doubled up gallon freezer bag for a later dinner (after it’s cooled of course) or place them in smaller inidividual plastic containers for lunches. If you put them in plastic containers my mom taught me to add plastic wrapt to the top before adding lid to help prevent freezer burn. Hope this helps.
Thanks Stefani! That’s a great idea. I actually just found something about that on Pinterest and planned to post it later this week. 🙂
I’ve read a lot about freezer cooking, and do practice it as much as I can. If you don’t have extra dishes for freezing, you can also line your pan with plastic before freezing, and once the casserole is frozen, you pop it out of the pan, wrap it or seal it properly for storage, and store it in your freezer. When you’re ready to thaw and re-heat, you just pop it back into the same pan you froze it in.
Thanks Sheila-great idea!
I have been afraid to try freezer cooking. I do precook chicken and ground beef to freeze. But I have always been afraid to double recipes. What type of pan do you freeze in? Is it a throwaway pan, or a normal glass or metal pan that you bake in?
Hi Kathy! I have frozen in glass Pyrex dishes primarily, but I have used the metal pans or even plastic containers when I have frozen something in individual portions. I don’t need a lot of extra dishes because I am adding things over time, not doing it all in one day. For sauces, beans, shredded chicken, browned ground beef, etc. I usually just use a freezer zipper bag.
If you line your pan/dish with foil you can freeze it then pull it out and place it in a food saver or another bag so you can have you dish back.
Thank you. I have been having problems coming up with ideas for dinner and having energy to cook them after working all day. This helps.
I am so happy to help! Have a Peaceful Day!
I do the same and love it! Like you I would hate spending a whole day in the kitchen cooking, so when I have everything and I’m making for example enchiladas, I will make an extra 9×13. Doesn’t take anymore effort because everything is already out. Saves on the grocery bill. Thanks for you blog! It’s very inspiring and uplifting to hear about your story and hear other women expressing that they want to serve God and make the most of what they have and stick to there budget. Thanks again a million times!
My pleasure Lora!
Thanks so much for your encouragement. Have a Peaceful Day!
Daniele @ Domestic Serenity says
Hi! Found your blog from MSMom…
I too practice freezer cooking over time, glad to hear someone else say that doing it all in one day is too much! :o) I mostly double recipes and pre cook meat for easy meal prep later.
thanks for the info on your site!
Hi Daniele! Doubling up is definitely easier in my opinion. 🙂