Written by Jessica Fisher of LifeasMOM.
Some folks turn up their noses at the idea of a frozen entree. And with good reason. The TV dinners of the past as well as modern frozen foods don’t have much going for them in terms of taste or nutrition. Despite the convenience they provide, they leave one a bit turned off.
However, freezer cooking, aka batch cooking, the method of preparing large quantities of foods and freezing them for later use, can be a huge asset to your kitchen prep time. Not only do you get to dictate the taste and quality of your meals, but you also get the handy convenience that comes with having meals ready to go.
There are a number of ways that you can make freezer cooking work for you and your household.
All photos by Jessica
1. Buy yourself some time on busy nights.
For years I’ve made it a practice to keep a stash of homemade entrees in my freezer. Items like homemade marinara sauce, lasagna, enchiladas, and even pizza dough freeze wonderfully well. They also buy me a lot of time on busy nights when I want to feed my family at home but might not have the time for prepping the nightly feast.
2. Make good use of your produce box.
Tonight our family enjoyed a few bites of summer — in the middle of winter. Marinated Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf, a green salad, and sweet corn from the cob made up the menu. Despite the possibility of buying out of season corn at my local supermarket, what we enjoyed was actually grown within 100 miles of our home and was harvested “in season.”
Since subscribing to an organic produce co-op, I’ve started to process the excess for the freezer. In August I made huge vats of ratatouille. In September, I processed the last of the season’s sweet corn and beans. This winter I’ve pureed lots of winter squash. And just last month, my slow cooker transformed 30 pounds of apples into applesauce.
Through the use of freezer preservation, we’re enjoying healthy organic produce months after the summer has faded.
3. Feed your baby homemade purees.
If you’re blessed to have a baby in the house, consider making your own “baby foods”. You can control what’s going in each portion and ensure the best nutrition possible for baby.
While it’s easy enough to mash something up every night, sometimes it’s nice not to have to do anything, especially when you’re strung out on day and night baby care.
Purees are amazingly simple to prepare and freeze. Cooked carrots, steamed broccoli, stewed apples, and cooked peas and beans all blend well in a blender or food processor. Spoon the purees into ice cube trays; each cube is the perfect portion size, about two tablespoons. Once frozen, pop them out of the molds and store in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer. At serving time, simply thaw the desired number of cubes in a dish set over warm water.
4. Care for elderly friends.
I remember the days when my granny was no longer interested in meal prep. Those were hard times for her children, who tried to make sure she got adequate nutrition.
Preparing a number of individual dinners, even something as simple as soup, to wrap and freeze is a great way to bless those around you. If Grampa has several plates to choose from in the freezer, he’s more likely to enjoy a good meal.
5. Take a vacation — from cooking.
When we go on vacation with our six kids, I really just want to rest and relax, not cook in a strange kitchen. Neither do I want to spend a fortune on restaurant or fast food fare. Instead I prep our meals in advance and freeze them for transport.
We enjoy enchiladas, chili, and homemade manicotti without much fuss on site. I know what we’re eating, especially important with a food allergy in the family; we all enjoy the meal; and we save some coin by eating in.
Have you tried freezer cooking? How do you make it work for you?