Freezer Cooking – Part 1

freezer cookingFreezer cooking is also referred to as Once a Month Cooking or OAMC, freezer meals, among other names. But it all means the same thing.

Freezer cooking has become more popular over the past couple years for many reasons. First, it is much more nutritious than cooking commercial frozen meals, ordering take out or eating fast food. Second, it is a fast alternative for today’s busy parents – between work, after school activities and other household duties, freezer meals are a great alternative.

Most freezer dinners require only a small amount of prep work when you cook them. Some require you to take it out of the freezer in the morning to thaw during the day. Others can simply be taken straight from the freezer to the oven, or they can also be put in the crock pot in the morning and ready for dinner time.

Cooking enough meals for an entire month in one day can be done. It does require some dedication and prep work. If this seems overwhelming to you try doing meals for a week or two for your first try.

There are many families that will spend an entire day making 30 days worth of meals. It requires planning, such as selecting recipes, listing all the ingredients needed then shopping for them and doing any prep work such as chopping or peeling. Then on the day, it will consist of preparing all the meals. I like to make my in multiple of 2 or 3. It is quite simple to make 2 sets of 15 meals. The days is finished by packaging and labeling, freezing and then clean up.  Every once in a while I split the work with a friend.  We each prep in our own home.  I will do chicken dishes & she will do other meats and vegetarian dishes.  We make enough for both families to have a good supply of the meals.

It does take dedication to do this. It is work, but then it makes a lot less work over the rest of the month, which is why so many people do it. By planning your meals based upon what is on sale at the time you are able to budget a little better, since the bulk of your food is purchased at one time.  If you keep your eye on the grocery ads it’s pretty easy to buy all the things you will need for your cooking sessions in one shopping trip.

Think of the time savings in getting your monthly cooking done all at once rather than going through the entire preparation, cooking and serving of a new meal every single night.

How do you store your freezer meals?

There are many options for you to use when you were doing freezer cooking.

Ziploc bags are probably the easiest to use when you’re just getting started. You can often get them on sale, and they can be used again and again for dishes that are not greasy or do not have meat. Just try to get as much air as humanly possible out of the bag to minimize freezer burn. When using a freezer bag I like to close it completely except leaving enough room for a drinking straw to go in and I use the straw to suck out the air and then quickly finish closing the bag.

You can also use freezer containers. When purchasing freezer containers, buying one of the large economy packs with a variety of sizes and shapes is a good idea. That way you’ll have a container for just about everything.

Some people use aluminum foil. Just be certain that you mark anything wrapped in foil well. Writing with a marker on the foil will usually disappear so writing on marking tape, then applying the tape to the foil is best to make it easy to read.

The Pyrex casserole dishes are great. You can shop around and find these inexpensively. You’ll probably find the most versatile size is an 8×8 or 9 x 9. Just be sure at the size you get will fit in your freezer and will not be more that what you can use at one time once it is thawed and cooked. Keep in mind that he cannot take it from the freezer to the oven, you will need to defrost first – I learned that the hard way!!!

I like to use a combination of a couple of items. I love love love my Food Saver!! I love using it to freeze casseroles, vegetables, fruit, pasta, rice, and soup. I also like to use recyclable aluminum pans (try getting some from your favorite restaurant) for things like lasagna & meatloaf. I usually put lasagna in the aluminum pan and then in the food saver too.

Come back tomorrow for tips on making the most of your freezer cooking day & some of my family’s favorite freezer cooking recipes.