Thursday, December 9, 2010

Freezer Cooking: Getting Started

So speaking of getting back on track..I know I've been promising to give you guys some tips on my freezer cooking for months now. Well, the thing is, I did such a good job of stocking up before the baby was born, I'm just now, 5 months later, needing to do some cooking again!
I got the idea from MoneySavingMom and it's one of those things that really changed my life for the better. It is so great to be able to have hot, homemade meals every night with hardly any prep time. And it's not just for dinners..also works great for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and desserts. It also is one of my tricks for keeping our grocery budget around $40/week.  This last stock-up probably took me around 4 hours spead out during baby nap times and cost probably around $75-$100, I splurged a little since I haven't done any major cooking in literally months. I won't have to do any major cooking now (unless I want to, which is part of the fun..taking off the pressure to HAVE to cook) for the next month.

I'll give you some of my favorite tips and recipes. It's probably a little overwhelming, so I'll break it down into a few posts.

Tip #1:  The biggest tip and easiest way to start is to make at least double of something you are making anyways. For example, if you are making a lasagna for dinner, make 2-3 and freeze the others. It's hardly any extra work and now you have another meal ready to go. And then freeze dinner leftovers in lunch size portions for you husbands to grab for lunches.

Tip #2:  Take one ingredient and use in a number of different dishes. I usually focus on one meat at a time, and base that on what's on sale.  

For example:
Ground Beef:
Meat Loaf (make a big batch and freeze in single meal-sized portions)
Meatballs (freeze in a bag and serve with pasta or use for meatball subs)
Taco Meat
Brown Bag Burritos (these are awesome. Individually wrapped burritos ready to grab-and-go. I usually add rice too to make them a little more hardy)

*Fajitas (cook with peppers and onions and seasoning)
*Cooked, breaded chicken breasts. Can use reheat and serve as is or use for other dishes like chicken parm.
*Chicken breasts frozen in a marinade (this is one of my favorite tips) bbq, teriyaki, italian dressing, taco sauce, curry sauce, etc.  I usually always do this right when I get home from the grocery store. It's a small step. But sometimes just deciding what to make is so tough when you're exhausted and don't feel like cooking.  I'll go.. "okay, I have some chicken breasts in BBQ sauce..I'll through that in the oven, heat up some baked beans and serve with some rolls." And dinner is done with 5-10 minutes prep time and little thought.

This might be the easiest way to start. I'll make an entire bag of rice and use it to make different types of meals:
Asian - veggies, teriyaki sauce, chicken
Mexican - brown bag burritos, or make mexican rice with a little seasoning
Indian - curry sauce, chicken, any veggies on hand
Side dishes...cooked rice freezes pretty well and good to have on hand for a side dish.

Hope that helps to get you guys started. Let me know if you try it and have any success!!



Brittany Tally said...

Wow thanks for taking the time to write all that out. I like the idea of whatever you are making, just double it. Your right, it really isn't much more work considering you are already making a mess. I really need to get better about freezer cooking. It would be so nice to have different dishes to choose from, ready to go whenever I'm hungry. And some nights I simply don't feel like cooking!

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