Freezer batch cooking can be a boon for the days you’re too busy (or too lazy!) to cook.
If you have a ready-to-go stockpile of meals in the freezer, all you need to do is pop one out, heat it up and dinner is ready.
It’s not a lot more work to make a double batch once you get going. A lot of the work is in the prep and clean up, so tackle it once and you’ve got meatloaf, casseroles, pancake mix or cookie dough ready to go. Plus, you know exactly what’s in your recipe. You can tailor it to meet your family’s diet and taste preferences.
Planning is key for a successful freezer batch cooking session. Here’s how to get started:
- Consult your cupboards and refrigerator to see what ingredients you already have. Search your cookbooks or search with All Recipes’ ingredient search. Make a shopping list for what you need.
- Make a master list of meals to make along with necessary prep steps. It saves lots of time to do all the prep work one day and cook the next.
- Pick a time when you have a few hours free and are rested. Have someone on hand to entertain and watch the kids.
- If you’re a freezer cooking newbie, cook something simple like baked goods or a casserole. Don’t make more than 1 or 2 items the first time.
- Meats, fruits, blanched vegetables, beans, butter and baking mixes freeze well. So do casseroles, non- milk or potato-based soups, chili and baked goods.
- Don’t freeze: Potatoes, eggs, egg-based custards or mayonnaise, or fried foods.
- Wrap everything very well to prevent freezer burn. Let food cool to room temperature, then seal tightly in airtight freezable containers or freezer bags. Double-wrap if in doubt. (Label and consider adding re-heating instructions if children or spouse will be in charge.)
- For more ideas, Money Saving Mom has a helpful “Freezer Cooking 101” post with tips and recipes. Home chefs who would appreciate some assistance can also register for a session at Mindful Meals in Arlington Heights and use their recipes and prep space.
To get you started, follow this link for Salsa Verde Chicken Freezer Burritos. It makes 15-20 burritos, and can be adapted to any combination of ingredients your family likes.