If you’ve been looking into freezer cooking for more than five minutes, you’ve probably realized that everyone has their own method. Some choose to cook thirty different meals, once a month and not have to make dinner all month long. Others find it helpful to just make double batches of everything they make, freezing one and eating the other. And there are many variations in between.
You don’t really have to choose one strategy and stick with it, but it will be helpful for you to choose a strategy to begin with. You can change it to suit your needs as you go along.
The two biggest considerations I see when comparing different methods are:
A.What types of foods will you cook for the freezer, and
B.How much will you cook at a time?
Let’s take a quick look at each of these and what the different options are.
What types of food will you cook for the freezer?
This question isn’t asking you specifically what you will make. It’s more about what your overall goal is. You may want a freezer full of fully cooked meals, ready to reheat and serve. Or, maybe you’d enjoy your meals more if you only made parts of the meal ahead, or even just the complicated parts of particular recipes. (I call these recipe helpers; it includes things like shredded cheeses and crumb toppings.)
What will you fill your freezer with?
- Whole meals (casseroles, etc.)
- Parts of meals (taco meat, spaghetti sauce, etc.)
- Recipe helpers (refried beans, chicken strips or chunks)
How much will you cook at a time?
I work best when I can focus on a large project, as opposed to skipping from one small task to another. So, cooking a lot at one time, when I’ve cleared a spot in my schedule, works better for me than cooking every night. If you’re the same way you may prefer to spend a whole Saturday per month cooking, or maybe 2-3 hours every Saturday.
Thinking about getting it all done in one fell swoop?
Like I’ve mentioned before, cooking 30 different meals in one day just isn’t for me. I’m sure it’s been done, but I’m not sure the cook lived to tell about it. Now, that doesn’t mean that cooking enough for a month can’t be done, but it would be a lot easier if you didn’t have to do 30 different meals. What if you made 3 each of 10 different meals? Or 5 each of 6 different meals? That’s a lot more doable.
Let’s say you make 5 each of 6 different meals. You may be thinking “But we don’t want to eat any one meal 5 times in a month”. And I would totally agree. An easy way around that is to have two lists of meals. Make one set on odd months and the other on even months. Each meal you make will last just fine for that 2 month period, so you’ll only be getting each meal 5 times in a 2 month time frame. That’s very tolerable even for the pickiest of eaters.
If you’re not so sure you want to be quite as aggressive as all that, here are a few other options:
- Half day; once a week or every other week
- 1-2 hours; once a week or whenever you can find a few hours
- 20 minutes stolen throughout the week
- Make 2 freeze one; just whenever you’re already cooking
It all depends on your schedule, and what types of foods you want to make. It will be difficult to have a month’s worth of meals in the freezer if you choose the “20 minutes stolen throughout the week” method. But you can certainly make a batch of muffins here and a casserole there, for those super busy days.
I actually alternate between all of these methods, depending on my schedule,mood, and bulk food purchases. I’ll go into more detail on the methods I most often use in the next post.
What’s your favorite way to fill your freezer? What is your biggest challenge?