Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday Tip(s) of the Day...

As many of you know, I have become obsessed with freezer cooking.  How can you not love going to the grocery store for one big shopping trip, making and cleaning up one mess, and spending your child's nap time or two preparing enough meals for at least a month??? The last time I did this was the end of August and we have made it until the middle of October on those freezer meals.  Now we didn't eat one every single night...we went out of town once for four days, we usually eat out one night on the weekend, and Harper's school has school nights at local restaurants to raise money for her school so we try to participate in those a couple times a month, and then there are the occasional weekend nights that my husband wanted to make something special for dinner (he enjoys cooking). But other than that it was freezer cooking to my rescue!  It is so nice not having to fret over what to cook for dinner all day and then spending my afternoon cooking and my evening cleaning...blah...who wants to do that!?!  I just go look at my list on the side of the fridge and pick out a meal that sounds good and dump it in the crockpot.  The house smells yummy all day and my cleaning consists of throwing away the bag I froze the meal in and taking the crockpot liner out of the crockpot after we are done eating. (I do wipe out the crockpot with a wet cloth after each use and wash it after a few meals).  There are some nights where there will be a pot to wash from a side dish I made to go with the meal but seriously how simple can it get!?

When my freezer starts to get low on meals this is what I do: 
1.  Head to the internet to find some new recipes or search through old favorite recipes: and are my favorite blogs for freezer cooking. You can even find shopping lists and printable recipe cards for the freezer cooking recipes on these blogs!  I have also found great ideas on
*When I find a recipe I like, I write it down on an index card. That way, I can easily browse through my cards to search for a recipe and it's an easy way to make notes (like favorite side dishes to serve with a particular meal, etc) on the cards.

2.  After I have 15-16 recipes (each recipe makes enough for two bags aka two meals), I type out my list that I stick on the side of my fridge. I make a check beside the recipe once I prepare it and its in the freezer and then when I take it out to fix it for dinner, I mark through it. That way I know what I still have left.
3.  Then I get out my Ziploc freezer bags and write on them the name of the meal and any instructions. That way I don't have to do it as I prepare my meals.  I try to get everything done while my son is napping so not having to stop and write on each bag as I put the meal together saves me time.
4.  My next step is making my list.  I either use the grocery list from the blog or I write my own using this handy dandy note pad. It already has categories for the different sections of the grocery store so my list is organized.  I am a list maker, make one for everything so when my mom found this she knew it would be perfect for me. LOVE it!  

5.  Before heading to the store with my list, I check my pantry, fridge, and freezer to see if I already have any of the items. If I do, I say "yay" and mark through that item on the list.

6.  Now onto the grocery store. If you are lucky enough to have time to shop without the kids, I would recommend it.  I always have at least two of mine with me and they can be a bit distracting. I have definitely forgotten some items before and bummed when I get ready to make the meals and realize I'm missing an ingredient or two.

7.  Another time saver, is to cut, chop, slice, etc. all the veggies first.  That way they are ready to throw in the bag when I get to the recipes that call for them.  While I'm chopping my veggies, I have any ground beef I'm going to use browning on the stove. 
*Sometimes I make it even easier on myself and buy a bag of whatever frozen vegetables I'm going to need and I don't have to do as much cutting, chopping, or slicing but I try to use as many fresh veggies as I can.

8.  After a couple of hours in the kitchen, I clean my mess up and am done for at least a month.  My freezer is full and I am one happy momma!!

*Make sure you get all the air out of the baggie before sealing it up and sticking it in the freezer so your meal will taste fresh!

*I never let my meals thaw overnight in the fridge (I usually don't think about dinner that far in advance.) I run the frozen bags under hot water for a few seconds when I'm ready to put them in the crockpot and that way the meal isn't stuck to the bag. I have never had any issues from doing this.

*If your excuse to not try this is you don't have enough room in the freezer, I felt the same way before I tried it. At first I only made enough meals for two weeks.  Then I realized I could clean out some of the things and reorganize and I would have more room. My freezer isn't huge and we haven't gotten a stand alone freezer yet so sometimes if I can't fit all the meals in the freezer at once, I will prepare and freeze all the ones that have meat in them.  Then as we start to eat the meals (and make a little room in the freezer again) I will make and freeze the couple of meals that didn't have potato soup, manicotti, etc.  
Sorry this picture is slanted. Just wanted to show you that I do not have a big freezer but I can make it work :)
 *My last freezer cooking shopping trip was to Wal-Mart and I spent about $200 (it was actually a little  more than $200 but I got some additional things that had nothing to do with freezer cooking).  I know $200 sounds like a lot but these meals will feed us for 1-2 months.

*If you have any questions at all, please ask. I have learned a lot by doing this for the last few months.  I'm no cook but I can tell you how my family liked a certain recipe or what I might do differently to it to help it be more kid friendly or freezer cooking shopping and organizing tips! 

*Don't forget these...they now come with 6 in a box instead of 4!! Makes cleaning up that much easier :)

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  1. Visiting from follow me Wednesday. This is great info. I like freezer cooking, but I am not able to plan that far ahead very well either. It has been a stretch for me lately to even plan for a week at a time. I am bookmarking this page so I can check out those links.

    1. Thanks so much for visiting! I am glad you find the tips helpful...I love freezer cooking and totally felt like you did before I started it. I even struggled with the day to day meal planning. But its completely different and I'm so thankful because life is busy and crazy enough without having to worry about what's for dinner every night! :)

  2. I love, love, love freezer meals. I haven't been doing it very long, but it has made life a lot easier. You have lots of great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Deborah! I haven't been doing this for too long but love it and it has made life so much easier. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments!!