Freezer Cooking

What my husband said about me last night:  “When it comes to meal planning and cooking, you’re an expert.”

And he was serious.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely glow when my husband brags on me.

Here’s the thing.  Even though learning to wash the dishes daily was equivalent to learning a new language for me, I’ve always been pretty comfortable and creative in the kitchen.

Hearing a speaker talk about freezer cooking years ago had a big impact on me.  I didn’t really go for her recipes, but I did start doubling certain things and freezing more.

It started with figuring out that I saved a ton of time on my daily dinner prep by trimming the fat and yucky stuff off of ALL of the chicken breasts I purchased (on sale, of course) at once, and packaging those trimmed breasts in meal-sized portions.  This way, I didn’t have to thaw, then trim, then cook the meat for each meal.  Cutting out the trimming step also meant that I cut out the obsessive-disinfecting-of-the-kitchen-sink step since the chicken went straight from the bag to the pan.

How I trim and package a LOT of chicken all at once.  (There’s a video, too!)

Soon, I figured out that since cooking the meat for a meal was the most time-consuming step, cooking extra meat to freeze for a future meal also saved lots of time.

As additional mini-people joined our family and life got crazier, I decided to take that method even farther and began pre-cooking large amounts of beef and chicken.

I also like to cook beans and rice to freeze.  By having pre-cooked ingredients in the freezer, I can literally throw together a home-cooked meal in around fifteen minutes.

(Listen to my Podcast about meal planning and freezer cooking here.)

Meals made with pre-cooked ground beef:

beef freezer cooking

Mexican Casserole (not frozen as a casserole)

Taco Soup

Tacos

Pizza Pockets

Quesadillas

Beef Stroganoff

Spaghetti

Skillet Lasagna

 

Meals made with pre-cooked chicken:

chicken

Chicken Fried Rice

Faux Alfredo

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

Fajitas

Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

 

Other things that are easy to cook ahead and freeze:

Meatballs

Hamburger patties

Once I realized how much time I could save in the kitchen by cooking ahead, I started viewing recipes differently.

There are some things that are so perfect for freezing that I now automatically double the recipe every time I make them.  I freeze the second portion for a quick meal later.  With my roast/brisket, knowing that I will get three (fabulous) meals out of one cooking session (and mess!) is the motivation I need to tackle this more complicated and time-consuming recipe.

Roast/Brisket

Spaghetti Sauce

Tortilla Soup

Fajitas

freezer meals

The main thing I love about freezer cooking is that it eliminates excuses. Anything I can do to eliminate excuses is a good thing around here.  When I decided that my family wasn’t getting enough protein for breakfast . . . I didn’t start setting my alarm clock for earlier because I knew that would just end in guilt.  Y’know, when I ignored it.

I took the (non-early-morning) time to make things like sausage biscuits or breakfast pockets that could be microwaved with my eyes closed.  Literally.

I also love to have the kids make large amounts of blueberry pancakes or pumpkin pancakes or pumpkin muffins to freeze for breakfasts.  It’s family bonding time.  Not child labor at all.

Other freezer links:

How to Freeze Ground Beef

How to Freeze Pumpkin

The World’s Best Fried Okra Recipe (no humility needed, and it’s perfect for freezing)

Smoothie Kits

--Nony

Comments

  1. My goal this year is to start freezer cooking. I have started keeping taco meat and ground hamburger in the freezer and it is such a time saver ~ I love it!

  2. I would love to hear more detail about freezing rice and beans… I mean it sounds pretty straight forward, but you never know… Do you mean “rice & beans” or do you freeze rice that you’ve cooked and beans that you’ve cooked. Is it worth it to freeze rice when there is Minute Rice? thanks :)

    • No, I just freeze cooked rice and cooked beans separately. (I thought I had posts about that but couldn’t find them.)

      I’ve never really used Minute Rice, but I do think there’s a texture difference.

      The beans I freeze in quart sized freezer bags.

  3. I don’t like making meals in advance but I love the idea of precooking some of the meat! :D

  4. I do my freezer cooking almost exactly like Nony. I will make a huge pot of pinto beans and then freeze them in 2 cup portions (using freezer bags.). I lay the bags flat to freeze and then stack them when they are hard. You can fit a lot of food in your fridge top freezer if you are careful.

    I also cook up a whole turkey and then shred the meat. I freeze the shredded meat into 2 or 4 cup portions, perfect for turkey soup or casseroles. I then make turkey stock from the turkey bones. After the stock is cooked and cooled I freeze it in one cup portions to be used in a wide variety of recipes.

    I also will cook ground beef and freeze it in one pound portions (about 2 cups) to use in tacos, spaghetti, chili, etc.

    I am glad you are sharing these ideas. I learned about freezer cooking YEARS ago but could not make it work for me. Now that I freeze prepared ingredients, it is a huge help.

  5. This post is tremendously helpful!

    I know you’re busy, but if you ever get the urge to write another ebook, I would sure love to see one with your ideas for efficent meal-planning and cooking! It’s something I struggle with every day, and takeout often wins (as our budget and health loses).

  6. Ooooo. Me too! I would love an eBook on kitchen management too!

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--Nony

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