I learned my freezer prep process from my parents at a very young age. Granted we didn't call it freezer prepping or cooking back in the day, but that's what we were doing. Our house was an hour or so from the local army base, so we would only grocery shop once a month. We froze everything!
Fast forward to my life today and you will see that freezer cooking and prepping is still a major part of my family's life. In this episode, I share my freezer cooking process tips and tricks as well as my lessons learned as it relates to the process.
Your freezer cooking process doesn't have to be overly complicated, just start small. Now, the information below is not a transcript of this podcast episode but is a general summary of the information provided. I definitely recommend you listen to the episode to get the details that you may need to fully implement this information.
In my User Freezer Cooking and Meal Planning to Organize Your Life post, I shared with you the benefits of freezer cooking. I hope this encouraged you to think about it in a new way. To think about how freezer cooking can fit into your life to ease your stress and overwhelm. Well, today I am going to share with you my freezer cooking process. I eluded to it in the last post, but we will get into more detail today.
My most common freezer meals are soups and pasta dishes. This is because it is easy and cheap to make on both accounts. Another great thing that I didn't mention in my last post is that you can easily adapt recipes to suit your needs and dietary restrictions.
So let's assume we are making soups today because I recently did this and it yielded us about 12 different freezer meals. The one thing I like to do for soups is to put them in Ziploc Twist 'N Loc Containers, so I used four different containers. Of course, if you don't have a lot of room in your freezer you will want to let it cool and put them in gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags, laying them flat until they solidify.
We also have a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System(note: this is not our model, just an example) that we love to use to freeze meats and other things, but that's a post for another time.
On the day that I made the soups, I made two. I had considered making three, but not knowing how much each soup would yield I decided to just go with the two most related soups and save the third for a later time. The other reason that I decided to do this was because the third one was a crockpot meal, so it wouldn't take much time to make it on another day.
Now, one thing I recently discovered, hence my suggestion to involve the family is that pre-prep work makes the process so much easier. This particular time I asked my husband to chop up the vegetables that I would need for both soups. Both called for celery, carrots, and onions. One needed potatoes too, but I did that the day of. My husband is much better at chopping veggies, so he knocked that out. I just had to convert my measurements to know how much of each to use in each soup.
My daughter (4 1/2 at time) was really excited to help, so I let her take the items I measured out and put them in the soup pot. It was something that was easy but excited her and allowed her to help.
I followed the directions on each soup recipe (one is more complicated than the other) and then let them simmer for a few hours based on the directions. Once they were finished, we ate the soups we wanted and let the remainder of them cool.
Once the soups were completely cooled, we packaged them in the Ziplock containers. I added the date and type of soup to a Freezer Label and put it on each container and placed them in our deep freezer.
Now, if you don't have a deep freezer it's ok, you just have to prep on a smaller scale and do it more often. So instead of cooking two soups you'd cook one and freeze half and eat the other half or place them all in ziplock bags instead of the containers.
Now, when I cook the lasagna I prep the sauce as the recipe says, but when it comes time to build it I do it in small aluminum pans instead of one big one. This is one of those things that you can adjust to your lifestyle. The size of the pan is up to you, the key is to freeze them in serving sizes that match your lifestyle and family size.
The most important thing to remember is not to think of it as a meal with leftovers (unless that is what you want), but consider it as a meal with a side. So you are making a Lasagna serving for two or four with a side salad. We tend to overeat if it's a whole lasagna so this also helps with portion control too.
Once prepped in the small aluminum pans, I add the cooking instructions to the white lid along with the date and dish name. This way if my husband pulls out the meal he will know how to warm it up without pulling out the recipe.
So a couple of tools that would be great to have if you can financially afford to get them. If you can't, you can work around not having them. I have placed asterisks beside the ones that I definitely recommend before starting your freezer cooking process. You can always ask for gift cards or save up for the remaining items, trust...they are well worth it.
In the next post, I will share some of my favorite freezer meals and some tips I think you will find helpful.