Lessons from a Month of Freezer Cooking

It’s been a long time (too long) since I did a dedicated month of freezer cooking. There is nothing like the nesting instinct and the impeding arrival of baby number 4 to motivate you to resume freezer cooking!

I regularly do freezer cooking because I like having extra meals in my freezer – for those busy nights when I don’t feel like cooking. Once I started cooking more regularly to fill my freezer this month, I was reminded how gratifying it is to open my freezer and have it full of meals ready to go. Freezer cooking saves me time – and money! Both are excellent reasons to make freezer meals.

The more freezer meals you make, the easier it becomes. The more regularly you freezer cook, the easier of a habit it will be.

I spent some time thinking through the recipes I have made in the past couple weeks and realized there were 6 important things I have learned from freezer cooking.

(If you are just getting started with making freezer meals, be sure to read my Freezer Cooking 101 post for more tips.)

Whether you are new to freezer cooking or an experienced freezer cook, I hope this tips will help you be more efficient in the kitchen – and motivate you to give freezer cooking a chance!

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Here’s what I have learned about freezer cooking. 

1. Slow and steady fills the freezer.

Some people like to devote an entire day to freezer cooking. Me? I much prefer to fill my freezer with meals in little pieces here and there. I am a huge fan of the “cook once, eat twice method” which is basically doubling meals. For example, if you are cooking sloppy joes for dinner, make a double batch. Enjoy your dinner tonight and freeze some for a dinner on a later night. It is not hard to double meals and requires very little extra effort.

Over the course of a couple weeks, you can easily fill your entire freezer if you do it in little bits. With 3 little ones (and a fourth on the way), I find it less overwhelming to freezer cook this way. I can easily tackle a dessert and a main dish recipe in one day, and then do a different recipe during quiet time the next day.

Most of my freezer cooking is done during nap time or during my normal dinner prep. Simply keep at it and you will be surprised how much you can do in little pockets of time!

2. Keep collecting freezer meal ideas.

Look for freezer recipes all the time! Even if you are not planning on freezer cooking right now, start looking for freezer recipes that interest you. This will make it much easier to make a plan, if you have a selection of freezer recipes to choose from – whenever you are ready to make your freezer meals.

Find one place to save them and start a file of freezer recipes. For me? I save all my freezer recipes on a Freezer Cooking Pinterest board so I can quickly print off the recipes I need when it is time to cook. I collected some of my tried and true favorite freezer recipes here, in posts that you can easily pin too.

3. Watch for sales on meat. 

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Buying meat on sale is one of the best ways to save money on your grocery budget. Since meat is one of the more expensive areas of most people’s budget, aim to cook freezer meals from meat that is on sale. Perhaps that means tackling hamburger freezer meals this week, chicken freezer meals next week and pork freezer meals next month. Start watching for sales on meat now and your budget will thank you.

Here are some easy ways to freeze ground beef and chicken – even without making any freezer meals! Prepping meat ahead of time is a great way to cut down on dinner prep time, too.

4. Disposable pans are amazing!

When you are filling your freezer, you don’t want to tie up all your good glass pans. Buy a big stack of disposable pans (with lids) and you will be very glad you did! 

When I am making freezer meals, I use a lot of gallon bags, half gallon bags and disposable pans. It is convenient, easy and makes a lot less mess.

5. Fill your freezer with variety – breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

When thinking of freezer meals, people naturally thinking of dinner. They think of casseroles and pans of enchiladas and crock pot meals. Those are all wonderful – but don’t forget about filling your freezer with variety!

My kids and I enjoy a lot of different breakfast foods. It is much easier to fix breakfast quickly when I know I have several freezer options that can be defrosted in seconds. The same is true of desserts. I always have a variety of cookies, pies and different desserts in my freezer for us to enjoy – and for surprise company.

When it comes to preparing my dinner freezer meals, some times I prepare the entire meal in disposable pans and other times I prep a lot of meat to use later. It is so easy to make a pot of chili or a pan of tacos when your hamburger is already browned in the freezer! Utilize your freezer for all aspects of all meals.

6. Make doubling recipes a natural part of your cooking routine. 

I hinted at this before but it is worth repeating. If you get used to doubling your dinner recipes, you will find it easy to keep freezer meals ready for those busy nights where you don’t have time to cook. Think of it this way. For every meal you double now, you are giving yourself a night off from cooking later. What busy wife and mom doesn’t like that idea?

It takes a little bit of adjustment but once you have a meal plan for the week, simply add more ingredients to your grocery list and double a recipe (or two). The more often you do this, the more natural it will become. Your freezer will soon be filled with very little extra effort!

My Freezer Cooking Progress:

Remember my big goals to fill my freezer before baby? I’m making slow and steady progress. Everything I did get done was done in an hour of time, here and there.

Due to illness among all three of my kids this month (and some very short nights for Mom as a result), I didn’t get as much freezer cooking done as I originally intended. However, I still have about a month until baby number 4 is due to arrive so hopefully can get a bit more done. I am pleased with how my freezer is getting filled with freezer meals!

Here’s my list of what I have made so far and is in the freezer now.

Here’s what I have yet to make (and still want to) from my original freezer plans. 

As you can see, freezer cooking in small amounts still fills your freezer! Now, to see how much of the food we can leave in the freezer until after baby is born! 🙂

What lessons have you learned as you cook freezer meals? Any tips or tricks you would like to share?

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