Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts on Freezer Cooking

After all the work I put in last week for my Once a Month Cooking, you may be wondering if I thought it was worth it.   As I plopped a casserole in a casserole dish and threw it in the oven yesterday, I would say a resounding, "Yes!!!".    Here are some of the tips I took away from my cooking last week.

Plan! Plan! Plan

  • First, plan your menu out for the month.  I use iCal on my computer to do this.   I plug in a meal for each day of the month.
  • From your menu, decide which foods can be prepared ahead of time.   Some of your meals can be completely prepared.  Others, you will just prepare several ingredients and will quickly throw things together when you make it.  Then, you'll be left with a few that you'll actually have to cook on the day their scheduled.
  • List all the things you need to prepare. Group ingredients together - for example I cooked up 8 lbs of ground beef and onions together.
  • Make a master list with order of preparation.  Cook all your chicken together, all your ground beef together, all your chopping of veggies at the same time, etc.   
  • Make a grocery list (including side dishes, breakfasts, and lunch).  Check it twice!!  
Day of Cooking
  • Hang you master list and any recipes or order of assemblies on your cabinets (I used masking tape - which came off the cabinets easily at the end of the day).  This keeps them out of your work space, but handy!
  • Run dishwater and wash dishes throughout the day.
  • Have your freezer containers handy - along with a permanent marker to label everything.  Make sure every dish you put in your freezer is properly labeled.  You can also write cooking instructions right on the container.   I only did this with a few of mine, because most of the dishes are ones I make all the time and know how to reheat.
  • Set aside an area of your freezer JUST for your freezer meals.  This will make it easier to find your meals throughout the month.  I have an upright freezer, and used the top two shelves for my meals.  I didn't put them anywhere but those two shelves!
  • Line your baking dishes with foil, fill with food, then freeze.  After they are solid, remove from the pan and wrap in another layer of foil, then put in a freezer bag.  This way it is frozen to the shape of the dish you want to cook it in . . . but you don't lose your dish for the entire month!
  • Flash freeze some items (like breadsticks or biscuits) on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to a freezer bag.  This keeps them from sticking together and allows you to pull out the number you need.

Throughout the Month:
  • Check your menu each day and pull out the next days meal to thaw the night before.
  • If something comes up during the month and a meal isn't used, add that meal to next months menu . . . one less meal you have to make the next month!!

I've already started my plan for April.   I'll let you know at the end of this month what I get done then!  Let me know if you decide to join me!   

2 comments:

  1. Shannon,
    After reading your blog last week, I caught the bug and decided to make all my meals for the month too. I often do freezer meals for a week when Bob is going to be gone for work, and it makes life much easier. I started on Friday night after my kids were in bed with planning. We went shopping on Saturday, and I started cooking on Saturday night after the kids went to bed. At the end of the weekend I was finished and I am sooooo excited. I only had to clean up a mess once, almost everything I need for the next month of meals is frozen in my deep freeze, and now I will have an extra half hour to an hour each day! Thanks for the great idea and tips.

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  2. Wow! I can learn a lot from you! Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete

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