I have to be 100% honest with you – I never in a million years thought that I would be interested in nor did I expect to actually freezer cook. Seriously, freezer cooking to me has always meant that I was going to have to spend a whole day in my kitchen cooking. Which means that I would need to find child care, buy a whole bunch of food, freezer bags, and make a huge mess in my kitchen to simply prepare a bunch of meals for my family (not to mention that they’d be meals I wasn’t even sure we’d like). Then, not to mention the fact that my hubs has a seriously phobia of eating leftovers (he’s been working on it) and eating something out of the freezer was a difficult money saving strategy to sell him on.
However, being that I’m pregnant with our third child in three years, I knew that I had to come up with something to save my sanity, especially for when we bring our baby home. I decided to read Money Saving Mom’s Guide to Freezer Cooking (you can download it free on her site by signing up for her newsletter) and y’all, now I’m a freezer cooking advocate!
I realized that I was thinking and approaching freezing cooking all wrong. Instead of having to 1) make recipes that I wasn’t sure if we’d like or not and 2) spend a whole day cooking, I realized that I could make and freeze recipes we already love like my homemade lasagna and the best casserole you’ll ever have. I also realized that I could buy my ground beef in bulk, throw it in the crockpot while I was putting groceries up so it could brown. Then drain it and let it cool and freeze it – not only saving me time but saving also my sanity as well for when I’m having a lazy night.
But freezer cooking has helped in another area that I’ll be completely honest with you, I never expected it to help with – our cash grocery budget. You see, sticking to a $100 all cash grocery budget has been a bit of challenge as my hubs is a true carnivore and loses his mind if I make something that does not contain meat in it. So much of our grocery budget was going towards the purchase of meat that I expected our grocery budget to be wrecked when I started buying more meat to cook and freeze, but the opposite happened – it helped to keep my grocery budget in check.
So even though there may be a week were I drop nearly $40 on ten pounds of meat, I can extend our grocery budget in other areas for the rest of month, stocking up on other supplies.
Another area of concern for me was that my family eats mostly clean – a diet consisting of real, raw, whole, and minimally processed foods. I was concerned how our meals would freeze and if I could even freeze some of our favorites but I quickly found out that yes, I can freeze almost every meal that I’ve made from eMeals * (the meal planning service that totally saved our grocery budget two years ago).
These are some typical recipes that I freeze:
Baked Oatmeal (recipe is from Money Saving Mom) – this is not only an amazing breakfast but an incredible dessert as well – just add ice cream or whipped topping!
Chicken, Rice, and Broccoli Casserole (we all agree this actually tastes better after its been frozen!)
Homemade Lasagna (I shared this post on Instagram about how I make my lasagna so much more cost effective.)
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Ground Beef (non-seasoned)
Taco Meat (I typically season this with chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, chicken broth or stock, and black beans. Adding the beans makes the meat go further.)
Homemade Wheat Bread (I typically freeze a few slices of this before the loaf stales so I can make homemade breadcrumbs.)
Produce from our garden (like peppers and sweet potatoes)
Finding the Time
Now I’m sure you’re wondering how I find the time to freezer cook. I’ve already mentioned that I brown ground beef while I’m putting groceries away but I’ll also cook my spaghetti/Lasagna sauce in the crockpot. Since a crockpot holds a lot, I can make a huge batch and serve half that night for dinner and freeze the rest.
Another thing that I do is I chop our produce or fruit as soon as we bring it in and to either put in the fridge or to freeze. This ensures that we have plenty of healthy snacks to choose from and that I get the produce in the freezer before it spoils.
I’ve also found that if I simply just double a batch of whatever I’m already making for dinner, and freeze it, it saves me so much time and energy. There have been some weeks where I have day that I can devote to making several different meals to freeze but that is usually pretty far and in between.
These are just a few of the ways that I’ve been able to make freezer cooking work for my family. It is definitely a work-in-progress for us but we’ve already reaped so many rewards by having a freezer with ready-to-go meals.
Do you freezer cook? What advice can you offer?
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