Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Freezer Cooking = BFF

I've been doing a little experiment with myself and it's going REALLY WELL.

chicken sandwich  //  bean and bacon soup

Cooking is not something I've ever gotten excited about. I view it the same way I view doing laundry: it's not terrible, but it's also not fun, and therefore I don't have a lot of interest. Yet I DO love to eat and want healthy options, so it's a quandary.

Most of the time I end up being the one who cooks for us I because I work from home. And that's fine, because otherwise we would only eat Taco Bell and even I don't think that's a good plan. I want us to eat relatively healthy things that aren't soaked in chemicals, which means I have to actually use the stove. Like I said, it's not TORTURE, per se, but it's also not how I want to spend a ton of my time. I've been seeing a lot of stuff on Pinterest about freezer cooking--which is basically preparing a gaggle of meals at once and then freezing them until needed--and I thought I'd give it a shot.

Some people go wild prepare a month's worth of dinners in one day. I'm not that hardcore, so instead I go a week at a time and do a combination of meals and longer-term basics that can hang out in the freezer for a while (like when the grass-fed beef goes on sale, I stock up).

I've only been doing this since the beginning of the year, but it's AMAZING. Where have you been all my life, freezer cooking?! The food tastes the same, it's more efficient, and I end up doing fewer dishes overall. I know this isn't groundbreaking, but it doesn't seem like very many people do it. Right? Or maybe I was just the last person to find the party. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I enjoy cooking now, but I actually get a little excited on my Food Days because I know most of the work for the whole week is about to get done in a couple of hours.

So what have I been making? First let me tell you that for this be all that it can be, you need to pick recipes with overlapping ingredients. And obviously make stuff that will freeze well, but that's kind of a given. (Cooked green pepper, for example, is not a freezer's friend.) Here's a menu I did a couple of weeks ago:

Mmmm, chicken quesadillas. I added some jalapenos, too.

>> Quesadillas
>> Bean Soup
>> English Muffin Mini Pizzas
>> Lasagna
>> Ground Beef
>> Shredded Chicken

The pizzas and lasagna have a ton of overlapping ingredients, so that's a great place to start. The shredded chicken went into the quesadillas and bean soup (plus we had some on its own), and the ground beef is good to have on hand even though I didn't use it in any of the meals this round. I buy that several pounds at a time and brown it with onions as soon as I get home. Then I divide it up into pyrex containers and toss it in the freezer. I can just grab and go as I need it. I portion out the soup the same way.

This has made cooking SO much better for me. I'd much rather make 8 quesadillas at once and only wash the pan and cheese grater that one time, you know? Toss those puppies into the toaster oven later and I have an easy lunch. Again, I don't expect this to be news to anybody, but if you've never tried it I think you should. You get extra time to do other things! It's like the universe is giving you a high-five and telling you to go watch ALL of the figure skating. (P.S. Did you see Jeremy Abbott wipe out, but then get up and finish his routine like a boss? Bravo, sir.)

Do you ever cook this way? If you decide to give it a shot, let me know! Maybe this can be our next Blogger Food Party...

8 comments:

  1. I do this sometimes- I really should do it more since I'm cooking all the time. My main thing is rice. It takes 45 minutes to cook brown rice. 45 minutes!! Who has time for that? So I cook the whole 2 lb. bag at once and then freeze it. Then it takes 10 minutes to defrost, which I can do while I'm making the main meal. It's awesome. I do this with soup a lot, too, especially if I've made a big pot, lasagna, since we never eat a whole one and you cant make a mini lasagna, and meatballs. Actually, I do this more than I think. :)

    I'm glad it's working out for you! It's so much better to save yourself time, and then you can actually enjoy what you're eating. Plus, like you said, it's healthier!

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  2. I just started to dabble in this myself. It really does make a huge difference in getting meals made quicker, cleaning up less painful and the BEST part is having more time for other things ;) If you're into smoothies you can do that also with the fruits and veggies - cutting, freezing each piece individually, then dividing everything into zip bag portions. Keep it up, as I will try too!

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    1. I'm not really a smoothie person (they make me cold!) but my husband likes them. I'll have to tell him about that!

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  3. Woot! Love this! Freezer cooking is a mother's best friend :)

    Also, it's economical. Everyone wins!

    I do this often with chili (predictable). But I find it's so versatile! I can scoop a tablespoon onto potato skins, sprinkle with cheese and broil. Or mix a cup of it in with macaroni and serve with an avocado/tomato salad. Or thin out with beef or chicken stock for soup. Love it!

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  4. I love cooking, but I'm no good at batch cooking (freezer cooking). I prefer going to the market to get fresh ingredients for our daily meals. Also, my everyday recipes are under an hour, so that's okay too :)
    The bean soup looks yummy!

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  5. We always had a freezer full of stuff when I was growing up --- mostly from our garden and meat from the local locker plant. I've tried to use the crock pot more during tax season to avoid the temptation to resort to fast food.

    I really should follow your lead and make bigger batches and then freeze and thaw. A homemade TV dinner -- great for watching the Olympics, right?

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  6. I do a combination of stocking up the freezer and cooking once a week. We just bought 80lbs of organic chicken breast from zaycon and I spent 2 days (about 12 hours) making 44 dinners and 8 lunch sized portions. It had been a while since I'd filled the freezer like that but it's awesome to just look at the list and grab something out to thaw the night before.

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  7. I am SO glad you did a post about this, because it's been on my list of things to look into more, and try! Pinning!!!! Thank you, thank you!!

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