My husband and I are trying to be the best stewards of our money that we can be. One way that we feel we can be good stewards is by buying things in bulk when we can and dividing/freezing in portion sizes. This has not only helped us to be good stewards of our money, but also good stewards of our time as well. It is wonderful to be able to have a home-cooked meal ready for my husband on days when I go to work before he gets home from work and am not home with him for dinner.
Another (unexpected) blessing of shopping and cooking this way is that we do it together. My husband is a wonderful cook; he makes things up as he goes along and they (almost) always are amazing. I would have to say that 95% of the time, I would prefer a meal invented and cooked by my husband to one made by a gourmet chef at a restaurant… and no, I am not just saying this in the off chance that he will read my blog! I, on the other hand, require a recipe and prefer step-by-step directions. This has worked out to be a fabulous combination thus far. Pinterest is my friend for finding great freezer recipes, and my wonderful husband is an expert at tweaking them from so-so to fabulous.
God has blessed us so much that we are able to spend less money on our food budget every month than we tithe! I realized this fact one day when we were at church, and not only did this realization cause me to praise God for his provisions, but it also caused me to be even more inspired to continue to seek ways to be frugal in the kitchen. Luke 16:10 and Matthew 25:23, anyone?! I am all about sharing in my Master’s happiness!
When people learn that we do freezer cooking, we often get a few questions about it:
1) How often do you prepare meals to freeze?
We practice anything from once a month cooking to cooking in 2.5-3 week intervals. Recently it seems more common that we shop and cook every 2.5-3 weeks than it is to actually go a full month.
2) So.. how do you store all that food?
Although neither of us had ever practiced infrequent cooking and pre-preparing meals, I felt very strongly about it after some research while we were engaged; this led us to register for a deep freezer. We ultimately bought it with our registry completion deal, which afforded us a lovely freezer… so, friends and family reading this, thank you for making it possible!
3) Doesn’t it take forever?
The idea is that almost all of your work is front-loaded; instead of spending 15-20 minutes each day (or every other day) preparing meals, you spend a few hours once or twice a month and get it all out of the way at once (the time and the mess!). The length of time it takes depends on what we decide to make and how much we decide to prepare. Soups take longer on average because we like to prepare them stove-top Many of our crock-pot “dump” meals take a relatively small amount of time because all you are doing is chopping ingredients and putting them into freezer bags uncooked. Today, we made 14 freezer “dump” bags in an hour and 20 minutes; typically, each bag will feed the 2 of us 2 meals (usually we do dinner and then take leftovers for lunch the next day). So, using that logic, we made essentially 28 meals for us- that works out to equal prep time of under 5 minutes per meal… I’ll take it!
4) Does it really save you money?
I definitely think so! It was a daunting task to take on in the beginning, but for us it is worth it. It is definitely something that I think we will continue in the future, even if/when we are blessed with children. Not only does buying ingredients in bulk make it less expensive (and easier to coupon!), but it also makes us less apt to go eat out. It’s hard to use the excuse “there’s nothing to eat for dinner” when we have (currently) 12 different types of meals to choose from that just have to be pulled from the freezer and put into the crock pot that day.
5) Doesn’t it taste like those awful TV dinners?
No way! I really don’t taste a difference in the recipes we have made with fresh ingredients (such as the day of shopping, when we may make a meal with what we bought rather than making one more freezer bag) versus the ones we freeze. I think a big key to this is that they are frozen raw, so it’s not pre-cooked and then re-heated. Also, being homemade, it doesn’t have all those chemical preservatives that are in TV dinners.
6) Well, maybe I will try it. How do I get started?
Great question! First, you need to pick some recipes you would like to make. In the next few days, I will blog about previous cooks we have done along with some recipes/links. I will update this page to link to them once I’ve done them 🙂 After that, you just have to shop and prepare!
7) Any Caveats?
Just a few. The biggest one I have is that certain ingredients don’t freeze well. Others depend on what the meal is that you will ultimately use them in. A great example of this is cream cheese. It freezes but is lumpy once defrosted. If you are throwing it into a crockpot to melt, no big deal! If you are serving it as a garnish at a party, people might think it is goat cheese! Another is tomatoes; I have found that if you are making something like fajitas, it’s okay to freeze the diced tomatoes with the other prepped ingredients. If you are putting tomatoes in a dish with a different texture, you may want to wait and add them the day you cook (we do that with our Balsamic Date Chicken). I have also found that black beans are better unfrozen.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about freezer cooking, and perhaps inspired you to give it a try- even if you just do it for one recipe so that you have the option of grabbing a pre-prepped meal from your freezer on occasion when you’re in a rush!