This post is written by contributing writer, Jami from Young Wife’s Guide.
There are many different methods of freezer cooking, and once you get into it, you will find out what works well for you.
But the overall goal is: do more cooking at once and have meals or parts of meals in the freezer/fridge for later use.
When first starting out with freezer cooking, it can seem very overwhelming. It is a big task to undertake, but with a little organization, the whole process can seem like a breeze.
I usually do one day of cooking and make enough meals for a month. But you can take these principles and apply them to a two week cook day, or other methods, such as just making the staples of meals.
7 Easy Steps to Planning a Freezer Cooking Day
1) Browse the Sales Ads
Always start here. A week before your freezer cooking day, get the sales ads out. This is how you will plan what to buy and where to shop.
First, find out the best meat deals in town. Are chicken breasts on sale for their rock bottom price this week? Plan to use mostly chicken in your meals.
Then, find the produce sales and plan your sides around this. For a full month cook, I usually go to 3-5 stores, depending on how awesome the sales are that week.
2) Plan Your Menu
Keeping in mind the best sale prices this week, plan your menu for the month. Grab your cookbooks, favorite recipes, and log into Pinterest.
Decide if you want to make enough food for every night of the week or allow for times of eating out or meals with family/friends.
Be smart about the recipes. Love a great lasagna recipe that only uses half a box of noodles? Instead of wasting the other half, find another recipe with those noodles, or plan on doing two batches of the lasagna.
Grab a calendar and write out the meal for that day, how many servings it is, and the page # and or cookbook you got the recipe from for easy reference later.
3) Assemble Your Shopping List
This is one of the most time consuming parts for me. So turn on some music and get to work.
Sift through each of your recipes and write out the ingredients. To save time, if there are some items I’m not sure if I currently have, I put a little “c” next to it so I can check it later.
I list them all out and then go through the list a second time and sort them by category and location in the store (i.e. meat, produce, cold/dairy, etc).
4) Plan a Shopping Day
When I plan to do a full month’s worth of cooking on one day, I set aside a separate day to do the shopping. Typically, I do the shopping on a Friday and the actual cooking on Saturday.
Grab your sales ads, your action plan (what items are on sale at which store), and your shopping list.
Take a friend or an older child with you if you can (but consider leaving little ones at home to make it go more smoothly).
5) Do the Prep Work
I usually do this step the night before the big cooking day. Usually I go shopping on Friday and then come home and do the prep work Friday night for the big cooking day on Saturday.
Get out all the vegetables and chop and dice away. Pre-cook any meat that can be easily added already-cooked to recipes. Get things like rice and beans cooked and ready to be thrown into recipes.
6) Now Comes the Cooking
I always start out with so much energy on my cooking days! With the prep work done the night before, it’s easy to jump into the meals and start filling up your freezer.
You won’t want to do any additional cooking this day so make sure breakfast, lunch, and dinner are covered (even if that means having hubby run out for a pizza) or plan to use the meals you are cooking that day.
7) The Clean Up
Maybe you can get hubby to clean up the kitchen? Or maybe it’s your kids’ chore time?
During my cooking day, I try to clean up as much as possible as I go. I try to reuse the same pots and pans so that I have minimal clean up when I’m done. Plan for this step, though, because you will be exhausted at the end of the day.
While I am always exhausted at the end of my cooking day, I feel so good! My freezer is stocked full of yummy and healthy meals for my family for the next month!
You will be tired but the real reward will come the next day when you have a meal done that just needs to be thrown into the oven, stove, or crockpot.