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.
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:
Mexican Casserole (not frozen as a casserole)
Meals made with pre-cooked chicken:
Other things that are easy to cook ahead and freeze:
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.
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.
Other freezer links:
The World’s Best Fried Okra Recipe (no humility needed, and it’s perfect for freezing)