I keep referencing my freezer cooking and I have finally put together a post on how I use freezer cooking!
One thing I have discovered while trying to wiggle more room out of our budget it freezer cooking. This is something I had heard about but never really understood. I discovered how to make it work for my family on (you guessed it) www.moneysavingmom.com. While freezer cooking isn't going to save you hundreds off your grocery bill, you will see some little money savings here and there:
-It will keep you out of the drive thru:
If you have had an exhausting day and the last thing you want to do is go home and cook, it can be easy to stop and pick something up. But, if you know that you have a meal or two in the freezer, it is harder to justify that drive thru trip.
-You can use your items more efficiently:
You know that recipe that your family loves that calls for half a can of diced tomatoes? Honestly, tell me what you do with that other half of the can. Don't feel guilty- I do it too. Even if you save the other half, it will probably start growing things before you remember that you had good intentions to use it. Now, if that is a freezer friendly recipe (this site is a great reference for what doesn't freeze well. You'd be surprised with what you can freeze!), why not double the recipe and put half in the freezer. You have now used the other half of that can of tomatoes and have a whole other meal in the freezer to show for it. The half a can of tomatoes doesn't sound like a lot, but if you make that recipe every two weeks for a year, that is 13 cans of tomatoes you just threw out!
-It will make your meal plan work for you, which saves you money:
We all have those crazy nights when it seems like trying to plan a meal for them is laughable. These nights are perfect for freezer cooking. It is also a great way to avoid using prepackaged meals that are full of preservatives and cost far more than meals made from scratch. Just pop them in the oven and you have a meal! Viola!
The amount that I freezer cook in a week varies greatly. It all depends on what I have on hand and what I need to have on hand. For example, pancakes are a must in this household. My children are hopelessly addicted to them and they are a great go to for an on-the-go breakfast or snack. And you know what? They freezer super easy and well. For mine, I just put them in layers with foil in between on a cookie sheet and let them freezer for a few hours (or until I remember that I have pancakes freezing). Then I put them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer! That's it! I typically will either make a huge batch when I have a little bit of time or just make the huge batch when I make them for dinner. These are so handy to have around! Chocolate chip oatmeal pancakes happen to be our favorite. We also like to have other quick foods such as ham and cheese pockets and muffins.
I also always like to have at least a meal or two in the freezer at any time. These are typically eaten on the night that I close at work (otherwise they eat a lot of frozen pizza). But, on many occasions, they have turned into a last minute meal when we have a crazy day. And I'm not just talking about casseroles and meatloaf (though we always have some of these around). You know those giant packs of meat that you will buy at the store? Well, if you know that all of that meat is destined to be browned, why not do it all at once and put the rest in the freezer. That way, when you are ready to make your recipe that calls for that ground meat, you just have to heat it up and use it normally in your recipe! I also do this with chopped and shredded chicken. Is it really that much more work to make a little extra when you are cooking dinner?
Speaking of which, I have found that one of the easiest ways to freezer cook is to simple double or triple the recipe you are already making. An excellent example of this would be lasagna casserole. I usually buy my cottage cheese in the large tubs since the smaller tubs cost almost as much for half the product. This recipe also calls for a 1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce, so it was obviously destined to be doubled! I can whip up the second casserole for the freezer without any extra effort. Now, I have not only put a meal in the freezer, I have also ensured that the second half of the cottage cheese and sauce don't go to waste.
The final way I get the freezer cooking done is with a good ol' fashioned freezer cooking session. I will set aside a few hours during naptime or when Shaun and I are both home and bust out as many meals as I can. These don't happen super often, but I actually enjoy them when I can get them in. It feels good to be so productive and have so much to show for your hard work.
I have found that almost any meal has at least part of it that can be prepared and frozen ahead of time. I am not suggesting that you need to freezer cook for every meal, but it's an option! For more on making freezer cooking work, you need to go to my source! I honestly learned just about everything I know here. I hope you can find something that works for you!