Are you a busy mom on the go with no time for cooking? Are you looking for the convenience of fast food without the hefty price tag? Then freezer cooking might be right for you. You can jump in with both feet and try once a month cooking or you can start out with freezing a few meals a month for the "crazy days", the "lazy days", or the "I just don't feel like cooking days".
What do you need for freezing cooking?
Freezer cooking is simple. You will need storage containers to freeze your food in, a few of your favorite recipes, and a freezer to store them in. You do not need an expensive deep freezer unless you are planning to store large quantities of frozen meals.
Freezer storage containers
You do not need to spend a fortune on storage containers to get started with freezer containers to get started with freezer cooking. Many of the foods you will want to store can be frozen safely in freezer storage bags or aluminum foil.
- Freezer storage bags - Gallon size bags will accommodate a considerable meal. Make sure you purchase the freezer safe bags and not ordinary storage bags.
- Aluminum foil and wax paper - Aluminum foil and was paper are great for solid or semi-solid foods.
- Plastic storage containers - Plastic storage containers are another great choice for freezing. There is a large variety of disposable containers perfect for freezing your favorite dishes. You can also use traditional, non-disposable storage containers.
- Pyrex and glassware - Pyrex and heavy duty glassware pans are another freezing alternative. You can freeze your meals right in the pan you bake them in. (To avoid cracking of glass, cool pan before freezing.)
What can I freeze?
Now that you know what to freeze your meals in, your next step is to figure out what you can cook. Soups, casseroles, meats, vegetables, side dishes, and main dishes can all be frozen safely. Foods such as raw potatoes and cabbage do not freeze well. The easiest way to find out which of your favorite meals will freeze well is to just try it out. Next time you cook your favorite recipe, set aside a small portion to freeze and try it out. If it freezes well add it to your list of freezer meal ideas. You can also check out the freezer recipe forum for freezer recipe ideas.
Planning and labeling
Freezer cooking can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. One way to do this is to set aside a day for cooking your freezer meals once or twice a month. You can cook several meals at the same time or go all out and cook enough meals for the entire month. Perhaps the simplest way, however, is to cook your meals as you usually do with a twist. Plan out your meals, but instead cook a double batch. Freeze the extra portion for later. If you do this once or twice a week, you'll have a freezer stash in no time.
Another important part of planning is labeling. In order to tell which meal is which, your meals will need to be properly labeled. You can use freezer tape and a pen or marker to label your meals.
Freezing and thawing
Cool your meals in the refrigerator before freezing. You will want to freeze them promptly to avoid risk of spoilage. Meals should be thawed in the refrigerator before cooking. Cooking times vary, but a good starting point is cooking the thawed meal for one half the length of the original cooking time. If it is not heated, continue cooking until done.