Want to create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes, but not sure how to do it? Follow this easy step-by-step method to plan your next freezer cooking session.
I’ve officially been freezer cooking for two decades now. Please don’t click away because you think I’m an old lady and no longer one of the hip chicks. Surely you watched that teen movie that proclaimed how a woman hits her prime in her 40s. Yes, it’s true. Those two decades of adulthood behind me mean that I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a ton.
You can trust me on the freezer cooking front.
Freezer cooking wasn’t “new” when I first heard about it in the 90s. I remember my mom’s friend Rita bringing us freezer meals when I was a kid in the 70s. They were really good, too!
But, the practice of cooking to freeze has changed with the times. We’ve got a whole new world of flavor profiles to choose from, a wide range of kitchen gadgets to work with, and a huge realm of technology to make the process quicker and easier.
Freezer cooking is a way that home cooks can prepare for the coming weeks by making their own homemade convenience foods.
- Don’t feel like cooking? Let everyone choose his favorite soup from the freezer.
- Have unexpected company? Grab a few quarts of homemade pasta sauce and prepare a pasta feed for a crowd.
- Looking for something quick to eat on the run? Pull some burritos from the freezer.
Not only will freezer cooking enable you eat better, but it will also save you money as you avoid high priced takeout.
If you’re new to freezer cooking, or bulk cooking as it is sometimes called, rest assured that it is not difficult. You can very easily spend a few hours cooking up several recipes in quick succession and have weeks worth of meals at the ready. In fact, the internet is full of freezer cooking plans and programs to help you fill the freezer.
- Watch this video if you want some simple get-started tricks.
- Grab some of my FREE freezer cooking plans here.
- Browse my freezer-friendly recipes here.
You’ll get the hang of it in no time! And once you do, you may want to branch out and create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes.
How to Create a Freezer Cooking Plan and Save Time
1. Download this Freezer Cooking Planner.
You can do your planning on a piece of paper, but I’ve designed planning pages that make it easy.
Find them here and download the planner right away!
So, once you’ve got your planner, you’re ready to create a freezer cooking plan.
2. Decide what proteins you’re going to use.
My usual mode of operation these days is to work my cooking plans around a common protein. Using common ingredients or recipes that build on one another is a great way to maximize the time benefits of batch cooking. I find this to be a good way to make use of good grocery sales as well as save time.
Choose your proteins based on what you already have on hand or what’s on sale at the store. Fill in the Freezer Cooking Master Plan sheet (see your planner) with the type of protein and the recipes you want to use featuring that protein.
3. Create your grocery list.
As you’re going through the recipes, jot down which groceries you’ll need in the groceries column on the Freezer Cooking Master Plan sheet. Be sure to check the pantry, fridge, and freezer before you write it on your list. You may already have what you need.
4. Figure out your prep work.
Your cooking session will go much more smoothly if you prep your veggies and other ingredients in advance. Fill out the Freezer Cooking Planning Worksheet and make some tallies at the bottom of what you need to precook/prepare, chop/slice, or grate.
5. Plan your attack.
Next transfer some of those tallies over to the Prep-Chef List. In the timeline list the recipes in the order that makes the most sense for your cooking session. Some recipes will be part of other recipes.
For instance, if you’re making a homemade red sauce to use in baked ziti and lasagna, you’ll need to prepare the sauce first so that you have it ready when you want to assemble the pasta casseroles.
In the same way, put your recipes in order of what appliances you’ll be using. You can’t use the oven for five different recipes at once. You’ll need to space them out throughout the cooking sesson.
6. After you’ve cooked, keep track.
Once all your recipes are prepared, cooled, wrapped, labeled, and ready for freezing — your work is not quite done. Make an inventory of what you have on the Freezer Inventory sheet. Go here for more information on keeping a freezer inventory.
7. Make a meal plan.
Create a meal plan for how you’ll use these meals in the coming month. You’ll want to space out your bulk batches so that you’re not stuck at the end of the month with a week’s worth of enchiladas. Having a meal plan interspersed with freezer meals can help you enjoy great food and still have the flexibility for other meals throughout the week.
This step-by-step process should help you easily create a freezer cooking plan with your own recipes. If you’re running short on recipes that your family loves, be sure to check out my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite indie sellers. Your library might have it, also!
Originally published April 1, 2011. Updated July 8, 2017.