Trying to streamline my day with freezer cooking

Can freezer cooking actually help with my menu planning schedules?

I've mentioned before how my schedule often makes cooking dinner difficult. Teaching piano three days a week from 3 to 6 and then having evening activities several other days make cooking dinner a challenge.

I know of course that if I planned ahead — made crock pot meals for instance — having a cooked meal wouldn't be a problem. But there always seems to be things that distract me, and my best-laid plans too often derail.

For months my good friend Jessica at Life as MOM has been badgering me gently encouraging me to try freezer cooking. I've been resistant, partly because my freezer is so small, and also because the thought of planning out a month of meals (and shopping for it all) was too daunting to even consider.

But I've finally given in, and with a lot of support from Jessica, my husband and I did a mini-freezer cooking session a couple weeks ago. Here's what we made, along with the results. As you'll see, the day wasn't a complete success, but it was a great learning experience.

Waffles. These took forever to make since I have a small waffle iron. I doubled the recipe so it made a ton, and the kids have been enjoying these reheated in the toaster.

Whole grain cinnamon rolls. When I thawed these to bake, I think I let them thaw too long because they rose way too much. They still tasted good, but I've decided that the next time I'm going to convert the recipe to some kind of monkey bread so that over-rising isn't as much of a concern.

Butterhorns. I only made half of a batch since the original recipe makes so much. The kids and I really enjoyed these. And since they were all gone within only a few days, I made a full batch the following week.

Breakfast burritos. These we made with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, and tortillas. My husband, who never eats breakfast, actually had these for breakfast several days in a row! We'll be making these again for sure.

Chocolate chip muffins. I love me some chocolate chip muffins! These were a big hit and I made another batch (double this time) when we ran out.

Easy crockpot red sauce. We made a big batch of this and used it for the subs and the lasagna, and then we froze a batch to use in other recipes.

Brown bag burritos. Jeff and Jaden sped through these rather quickly. They were all gone within a week.

Pepperoni pizza subs. These weren't very good. We used French bread and loaded it with red sauce, pepperoni, and cheese. But it took forever to reheat in the oven, and the bread-to-filling ratio was just a bit too high in my opinion. If we make these again, we'll be using different bread for sure.

Lasagna. Yum! This lasagna was easy to make and it was so delicious after baking straight from the freezer. We'll definitely be making this again.

Sloppy Chicken Joes. This was a complete bust. Not because of the recipe, but because of the quality of the chicken. Or should I say the rubberiness of the chicken. We had purchased an off-brand bag of boneless skinless chicken, and the meat was so rubbery, even after several hours in the crock pot, that we had to throw the whole dish out. It was completely inedible. After all, if I couldn't even cut the meat with a sharp knife, I couldn't even imagine trying to eat it.

We learned a lot from our first foray into freezer cooking. Some of the dishes we loved; some we didn't. But one thing we know for sure is that we'll be continuing to freezer cook. It just might not be done all on one day once a month. We're going to make it work for us.

What about you? Do you freezer cook? If so, what's your method? Do you have any tips for a newbie like me?

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Comments

  1. says

    Personally, I'm a big crock-pot fan. I've converted tons of Rachel Ray recipes and other faves of ours. I cook dinner while I'm making lunch. I just dump everything in the crock-pot. I love that dinner is always ready in time, chicken is perfectly tender, and the house smells great all afternoon.
    I'll try freezer cooking, but I never have been able to understand the whole waffle thing. Like you said, takes FOREVER, one waffle at a time. Puh-lease. I'd rather just pull out my griddle and make a bunch of pancakes when we're ready to eat them! (Made strawberry vanilla pancakes from allrecipes.com last night. Oh. My. yum-yum)
    .-= Ginger´s last blog ..Book Review: An Army of Ordinary People =-.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    @Ginger,

    Ginger, we have a waffle iron that I never pull out for the same reason-too much time. However, when I do make pancakes, I double or triple the recipe and freeze leftovers. It does take a lot of time to make pancakes, so we don't do those often, but it is nice that the kids can pull a few pancakes out of the freezer and heat them up in the microwave for their breakfast (we've tried toaster re-heats, but they make the pancakes too crispy). I'm not big on reheated pancakes, but the kids love them, so it's worth the extra time making that extra batch.

    [Reply]

  2. says

    I have a "badgering" friend too. I'm so thankful I finally listened to her. I started out only cooking a couple of weeks at a time and have now moved on to 30-45 days at a time. This works for us since we have a lot of freezer space. May not work so well if you don't.

    I've learned to bag whatever we can so that pans don't take up so much room. And, we love the Advantage Cooking software for 30 Day Gourmet. http://www.30daygourmet.com I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but that software has totally cut down my planning time and I highly recommend it!

    [Reply]

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