Freezer Cooking How To

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Wondering what all this fuss about freezer cooking is? It can save you time and money, as well as put some great meals on your table.

Freezer Cooking How To

Freezer cooking is one of my main ways to save money on groceries. I can do a day or two of bulk cooking and not only benefit from bulk buying, but also save money not going to the store so often or hitting the fast food line when I need a quick supper. Freezer cooking, that practice of making your favorite meals in advance and storing them in the freezer until you need them, is a great way to improve your family’s diet, save time, and, of course, eat good and cheap.

This past month I’ve been writing an almost-daily, freezer cooking column over on The Kitchn. I know from personal experience, that a few meals tucked away in the freezer can bring about much-needed peace to a hungry and harried kitchen.

Here’s how you can get started doing a little freezer cooking of your own:

1. Locate some recipes you love.

Got a favorite lasagne, enchilada, or marinara sauce? Chances are it will freeze beautifully. Go through your favorite recipes and identify what your family loves that you can make ahead.

If you need some inspiration, check out my book Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook from your local library or get it on Amazon. There are over 200 freezer-friendly recipes in that baby. You can also check the Good Cheap Eats freezer recipes for new ideas.

2. Make a plan.

To do a freezer cooking session, you’re going to want to order the preparation of these recipes in a way that makes the most economical use of your time. You’ll also need to make a grocery list of all your ingredients as well as make a prep list of things to chop, precook, shred, and slice. Remember that in order to maximize your cooking time, you’re going to want to make several batches of each recipe.

Grab these printables: recipe and grocery listsingredient prep listprep chef list and timeline to help you develop your plan.

Want a shortcut? Grab one of the free freezer cooking plans I have available on Life as MOM.

Freezer Cooking How To

3. Go shopping.

Trust me when I say you want to double check your grocery list and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients on hand before you start your cooking session. You’re going to want to be able to get cooking without a lot of interruptions. Be sure to shop your pantry and freezer first before heading out to the store.

4. Get prepping.

Practice the cooking method of mise en place. Have everything ready to go to assemble your meals. Prep the vegetables, cheese, and other things that will go into each dish. It will make your assembly time go super quick.

5. Start assembly.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients, start the assembly line of meal making. Once you get rolling and see that stack of meals grow, you’ll be encouraged and gain steam.

6. Chill out.

Ta da! Dinner is served. Okay, not served, but ready to serve. You’ve got a bunch of meals ready to go, saving time, money, and a little stress in the process.

Now, chill out. Dinner’s done!

What’s YOUR favorite freezer meal?

Ready to get cooking, freezer cooking, that is?

Take the Freeze Your Assets workshop.

Over four weeks, I’ll help you get organized so you can make freezer meals a regular part of your kitchen strategy. 

Through a printable workbook, five learning modules, five 30-minute coaching calls, and a private chat group to share ideas, ask questions, and get personalized help, you’ll up your freezer cooking game so you can save money, time, and a few brain cells.

Learn more here.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I’m buying a chest freezer this WEEK and I want to be ready!

  2. AmyG says

    As we are a small family, freezing meals and meal components from even standard size recipes saves me time and money. Remembering to take the frozen item out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the night before to defrost is often the hard part for me. As I was reminded to take the shredded beef out of the freezer while reading your article on freezer cooking this morning (about 12 hours late) I was struck by how simple it is to leave myself an alarm on my IPad (which I do look at while relaxing before bed) to do the night before tasks, rather than rely on my tired brain. I can schedule when I meal plan for the week the tasks that I often forget to do for dinner the next day: defrost meat, sauce, etc., soak beans, make pizza or focaccia dough (I make versions that use a smaller amount of yeast and do a cold ferment in the fridge or on the counter in winter). It may just be me, but I forget and then must scramble in the very early morning or ditch my plan, throw something else together or give up entirely for the day and tell my husband we are going out for hamburgers (he loves to go out but our budget can’t take the hit).

    • It’s not just you. I forget all the time. Creating a staging area in my fridge freezer has been a huge help since I don’t have to go all the way to the garage to get something to thaw. I transfer stuff on Sunday and then it’s so much easier all week long.

  3. Stephanie M. says

    I love having trays of mac and cheese in the freezer for nights when I don’t feel like cooking or when I want it as a side dish to something else. Once in a while I’ll do a little freezer cooking for dinner meals. But I really enjoy having breakfast freezer meals in the freezer. I pack my husband’s breakfast and lunch every night. He leaves at 5:00 in the morning and I really don’t feel like cooking at that hour. He absolutely has no problem taking cereal every day but I enjoy giving him a variety. About 3 weeks ago, I spent the entire morning making a bunch of different breakfast meals. I made French toast, pancakes, turkey sausage, a ham, egg, and cheese casserole, bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast bowls, and an applesauce coffee cake. That was three weeks ago and I’m almost finished with these meals. When they are gone, I will start again; maybe with some muffins this time. Having breakfast meals in the freezer is a good way to make sure I have a nice variety of things to give to hubby.

    • Life goes so much better at our house when we have some breakfast stuff ready to go. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Carol says

    When you say to shop your freezer, I have been doing the pantry challenge sine the first of January and it has been very helpful I did not realize how much of a stockpile I had. With that said I am almost ready to do some freezer cooking and was wondering if I could use some frozen meats to put in the kits when it says to have chicken breast or thighs would I thaw them first and re- freeze? I did not think re-freezing was good but did not want to buy more when I still had some. Thanks!

    • Refreezing is not bad if you’ve thawed under proper conditions. The times that they warn not to is when your freezer has had a power loss and everything has thawed. That is bad.

      But, if you want to thaw what you have (in the fridge on a tray) and cook it, you can refreeze it no problem. Just be sure not to overcook and to make sure it cools and chills fully before sticking it in the freezer. Let me know if you have questions.

  5. Brenda says

    Fresh Thyme Market in Cincinnati has 50% off natural chicken this week. I made 2 pkg chicken teriyaki to marinate then grill, baked & sliced chicken breast for pizza or pasta, and 3 pkg chicken & black bean filling for tacos/quesadillas/burritos. I usually do triple batches sloppy joes and taco meat when ground beef is on sale. Scone & cookie dough are other frequent foods in the freeze. Love having these ready!

  6. I’m a huge fan of freezer cooking, too, Jessica.

    I freeze bread, cookie dough, enchiladas, pizzas…. you name it.

    It saves a ton of money and more often than not, my sanity.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes and tips!

  7. I’ve become SUCH a make-ahead / freezer cooking convert! And a lot of it is thanks to you. Can’t wait to check out your freezer book, as I loved the Good Cheap Eats cookbook.

  8. pat says

    Some of my favorite freezer meals are lawnmower tacos, broccoli and rice and cheese casserole andenchiladas. I also makeup your red sauce in batches to freeze, meatloaf and meatballs, taco meat and burrito meat.

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