5 Ways to Make Freezer Cooking Work for You

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?

About JessicaF

Mother of six, Jessica Fisher writes about parenting hacks at LifeasMOM and posts delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats. She is also the author of Organizing Life as MOM – a 170+ page e-guide complete with customizable planning pages and inspiration for home management as well as Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook for the Harvard Common Press.

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Comments

  1. I try to make double of whatever I’m cooking and throw it in the freezer for an easy meal later on.
    Steph’s last post: A Theology of Faithfulness

  2. I love the idea of putting pizza dough in the freezer. I never do this, and definitely should! It would make my friday homemade pizza night a lot easier!
    Heather’s last post: amazing weekend!

  3. If I have leftovers that are enough to make a side dish out them or a full entree I freeze them. Also, certain things I aways make 2 of quiche and lasagna are especially good frozen.
    Simple Living with Diane Balch’s last post: Earth Day: Global Warming and the Food You Eat.

  4. I like freezer cooking and your blog but I think this title is not accurate. This is more like “5 reasons why freezer cooking is a good idea.” It says nothing about HOW to make it happen, imho.

  5. Great post! Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. I love that you mention this as a way to serve the elderly. I think that we can gain so much from spending time with them.
    Julia’s last post: Rainbow Games, Part 2: Using Paper and Felt

  7. Great post, Jessica! Since I’ve been following your blogs for awhile, I’m pretty familiar with the concept of freezer cooking. But it had never occurred to me to prep meals for elderly. What a great way to use this concept and serve other people! Thanks for the inspiration.
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)’s last post: On the Menu: Work & Less Work

  8. I love freezer cooking! I often will double up a meal and stash the extra in the freezer for a busy day. I make muffins in big batches and freeze the extras, they make a quick breakfast or snack. And I love batch cooking so that I have enough for lunches for at home and to send along with my husband. I’m all about utilizing my kitchen time to the utmost. =)
    Breanne’s last post: Cafe Medina: A Vancouver Weekend Brunch

  9. I always freeze pre-made cookies balls. That way we have fresh cookies more regularly, but we don’t over-eat from making 4-5 dozen at a time. They cook almost as quickly from frozen as they do straight after mixing.

  10. This kind of link is the best way to cook…Very useful to me and I learn a lot..Thank you for sharing with us..
    Pamela’s last post: Freelance Writer Devon

  11. Kazzsandra says:

    I have never tried freezer cooking and as I hear about it, makes me really get interested to try it.. Thanks for the idea!
    Kazzsandra’s last post: Relaxation Techniques For Anxiety

  12. Lana Jackson says:

    Freezer cooking is perfect for busy moms like me. I’ve been using this technique since every member in our family is always on the go. Thanks for these awesome tips by the way!
    Lana Jackson’s last post: MSDSonline Management Partners with ICG Group, to Acquire MSDSonline from Existing Investors

  13. I love making an extra batch or 2 whenever I am making dinner. Especially if is something that is a bit time consuming. If I am making 1 shepherds pie or chicken pot pie I am making 3! I have been working on getting my mom friends to try this more because I know they struggle with dinner.
    The ideas about small servings for elderly are wonderful! My mom does this for my Gram and it works great for them both.

    I love your site and all the great info. My blog is still in it’s infancy but Im having fun. made-today.html
    Back2BasicsMom’s last post: Guess what I made today?

  14. I started to batch cook when my son was born 3 years ago. I always have pizza dough on hand! Its very handy!
    Melissa’s last post: A Perfect Lunch (Recipes: Potato Chips & French Dip)

  15. My freezers cooking tends to be a combo of meals and frozen ingredients — summer’s corn, home-cooked beans and pasta sauce, that sort of thing. I often find the frozen ingredients to be easier — since they take less time to defrost (unless I remember in the morning!) than a whole lasagna… :)
    Emily’s last post: sunday granola

  16. I definitely relied on the freezer for my baby’s pureed food. There was no way I was going to puree them for each meal time, so I relied on ice cube trays!
    Sleeping Mom’s last post: Dads are co-parents, not babysitters

  17. Brilliant idea. Thanks for posting these. Looking forward for more usable blog.
    Liz’s last post: Hcg diet reviews

  18. Kathrryn says:

    Freezer cooking sounds great! I like this idea here.. Thank you for letting us know about these information..
    Kathrryn’s last post: used cars gloucester

  19. I used to do more freezer cooking than I do now, but 2 things I always try to keep on hand is cooked ground beef and shredded cooked chicken. Just having those 2 things in my freezer at all times makes such a huge difference!
    Lari’s last post: We’re still here!

  20. I recently had success making a large batch of Aimee’s Sweet & Sour Turkey Meatballs in the crock pot and then freezing half. All I had to do for a later dinner was put the whole thing in the crock pot frozen and have dinner ready 4 hours later, with no dishes!

    I also reorganized my freezer and love how quickly I can see what I have to work with. http://www.randomrecycling.com/2012/04/freezer-organization-fun.html
    Emily @ Random Recycling’s last post: Gardening Plans: Seedlings, Containers and Kids

  21. Great post! I just spent a week visiting my parents (they are both 85) and after each meal, my mom would make a “frozen meal” from leftovers for her friend (who is a widow)! She does this on a regular basis and is always sharing extras with her neighbors.

  22. GREAT ideas! Thanks Jessica. I’m eager to read your book!

  23. Jessa Kate says:

    What a lovely idaes, I really enjoy to be part of this post… Great! I am pretty sure that my friends(mom) will like it too…
    Jessa Kate’s last post: Traitements d’acné naturels et efficaces

  24. How do you avoid freezer burn?

  25. Florence18Moore says:

    Great tips, this will bring to all the mom in preserving every foods well effective…
    Florence18Moore’s last post: 7 Tips to Start a Successful Blog

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