Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Organized
If you're new to the idea of freezer cooking, lots of questions can arise.
What is freezer cooking--and how do you do it? Can you really cook for an entire month in just one day? Don't you have to use specific recipes?
Check the entries below for answers to your questions about freezer cooking ... then get ready to stock your freezer to save time and money!
What is freezer cooking?
Freezer cooking is an assembly-line cooking method designed to fill the freezer with two weeks' to two months' worth of home-cooked dinner entrees. In a single day, freezer cooks process large quantities of food and assemble 14 to 30 entrees for the freezer.
Other writers use different terms to describe this concept: Lagerborg and Wilson coined the phrase phrase "once a month cooking" in their book of the same name, while Woman's Day magazine refers to the concept as "investment cooking."
However you describe it, the concept is the same: cooking and freezing a large number of dinner entrees in a single day.
What are the benefits of freezer cooking?
Time, money, convenience and nutrition! With freezer cooking, bulk buying saves money; buying larger quantities offers sharply lower price-per serving.
Assembly-line processing--chopping ten onions at once, browning ground beef for chili, spaghetti sauce and taco mix in one pan--cuts preparation time for each entree.
Freezer storage spells convenience: each morning, remove the evening's entree for reheating at dinnertime.
A steady supply of home-cooked entrees promotes good nutrition--no more trips to the fast food restaurant at the end of a long day.
A good stock of freezer entrees makes it easy to extend a casual invitation to dinner, promoting hospitality.
Best of all, by cooking once for an entire month, you've earned 29 nights of cooking freedom!
Isn't freezer cooking a lot of work?
Save money, save time, have a hot, home-cooked meal each night--the rewards of freezer cooking are great.
That's good, because this method does require planning and effort. A full day of cooking is no light matter! Still, the benefits of a freezer cooking session outweigh the work involved.
Many of us already do freezer cooking in a smaller way. We'll cook a roast for Sunday's dinner, and thin-slice the leftovers for a Tuesday night French Dip meal. Double the mashed potatoes needed for Sunday night, and turn the remainder into Tuesday's potato salad. It's no harder to simmer a triple batch of spaghetti sauce than than a single batch, with leftovers frozen for use later.
Only problem is, such casual efforts frequently lead to waste. That delicious spaghetti sauce transmutes into a red-gray life-form from the ice planet Hoth when entrusted to the freezer, label-less and in a hurry. The heel of the roast sits lost and lonely in the back of the refrigerator, befriended only by a jar of cocktail olives and a forgotten container of leftover green beans.
Freezer cooking promotes efficiency and eliminates waste. Entrees are labeled, wrapped, and bundled with items needed to complete the meal. No more staring inside that mystery freezer container, wondering: "Is it barbecue pork, red beans and rice, or my son's science experiment?"
What if my family doesn't like the recipes?
You're not alone! Many families find that some freezer recipes don't suit their family's tastes or health needs.
Here's the good news: the freezer cooking concept can be adapted to your own family's favorite recipes.
Freezer cooking differs in the approach to cooking, not the ingredients. Feel free to aubstitute your own recipes, or modify recipes to your family's taste--the benefits of freezer cooking are the same!
My freezer is too small to store 30 entrees!
Creative packaging and a scaled-down two-week plan can overcome lack of freezer space. Storing entrees flat, in zipper food storage bags and starting with an empty freezer compartment, even small freezers can hold at least two weeks' worth of entrees.
How do I start?
Beginning freezer cooks should apply the concept gradually. A two-week cooking plan takes only half a day and can be stored in a refrigerator-top freezer. Once the method is mastered, a month's worth"--or more!--of entrees can be processed in each session of freezer cooking.
It's not an intuitive idea, though, so it's best to begin by reading more about freezer cooking. Find more print and online resources for freezer cooking on the resources page.
Ready? Let's get cooking!