Beginner’s Guide to Freezer Cooking

Beginner guide to freezer cooking plus 20 easy freezer cooking recipes to get started

In the midst of transforming to working mom status after maternity leave, I stumbled upon the concept of freezer cooking.  In basic terms, freezer cooking is preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them for later use. Freezer cooking is a strategy that I have used faithfully to make ahead meals that are homemade and nutritious to feed my family during the week.  It is the perfect solution for busy families that want to begin eating healthy meals in place of the typical high calorie week night takeout.

I believe this style of meal preparation serves as the cornerstone of my commitment to health and weight loss.  It allows me to have control over the ingredients in my foods along with keeping portion sizes and calories in check.  Planning and preparing meals ahead of time for freezing is one of the first steps in losing weight.  To get you started, I created the list below to serve as a beginner’s guide to freezer cooking.

Schedule two blocks of time for freezer cooking. The first time block is to shop for all the ingredients and the second is to prepare and cook everything.  If you absolutely can’t find the time during the week or weekends to freezer cook, your next best bet is to cook double or triple batches of meals you are already making.  I prefer to cook every 2-3 weeks.  That way I am only doing serious grocery shopping and cooking twice a month.  With my busy schedule that is all I can handle.

Check Out My Other Recipes

Create a menu 3-4 days before shopping and cooking days. Start with recipes you know.  When cooking meals in large batches to freeze, it is safer and smarter to begin with tried and true recipes that you know how to prepare and your family likes to eat.  When you are just starting out, it is not the time to experiment with new recipes.  Pick 3-4 favorite recipes to get started.  As you get the hang of freezer cooking, you can add more recipes to your repertoire.  The more you practice this method the easier it will get.  You will find the groove that works for you in no time.

Clean out the freezer. Before you start cooking batches of dinners to last the next 2-3 weeks, you need to make sure there is room in the freezer.  Many people think that, in order to freezer cook, they need a large deep freezer. That is not the case.  I have a large deep freezer and even on my heaviest cooking days I don’t come close to filling it up. For the most part, as long as my fridge freezer is cleaned out and organized, I have plenty of room to store all my meals.

Use freezer storage containers and bags. This may seem like common sense but, I can’t tell you the number of times that I would make huge amounts of food and could not find lids or ran out of freezer bags.  The lesson I learned from those experiences is to always check my storage supplies prior to cooking.  I primarily use disposable containers and freezer bags from brands such as Gladware® and Ziplock®.  These products have worked perfectly for me.  In my research on freezer cooking, I have come across people using other methods of storing foods such as tinfoil, casserole dishes, or freezing in glass jars.  Those are not methods I have used however, as I become more experienced, I may venture out and try new freezing supplies.  Be very careful with glass because water expands when it freezes.  For now, I will stick with the plastic disposable containers.

Organize recipes by ingredients. Before I begin prepping, I first put all the ingredients for each recipe out on the table. This way I can make sure I have everything I need to begin and finish a recipe without having to send my husband back and forth to the store numerous times to pick up the missing ingredients.

Prep all the ingredients.  Trim and chop all the chicken, chop vegetables, shred cheese, and whatever else needs to be prepped ahead of time.  I have found this to be the easiest way to move seamlessly through each recipe and have 2-3 different meals cooking at the same time.

Put together a good play list and start cooking. Sundays are always the day that I use to do my freezer cooking.  I start around 9:00 am and usually end at 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm.  I have the music playing and just get to work enjoying my day of cooking.

These are just some of the  freezer cooking strategies I learned early on.

Here are my favorite beginner freezer cooking recipes

Taco Meat

Turkey Meatballs

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Smokey Sloppy Joes

Chipotle Turkey Taco Filling

Slow cooker Taco Meat

Shredded Beef

Shredded Pork

Basic Shredded Chicken

Mexican Shredded Chicken

Buffalo Shredded Chicken

Marinated Chicken & meats

Freezer Steel Cut Oats (Oatmeal)

Freezer Smoothie Kits

Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos

Cheddar and Bacon Breakfast Sandwiches

Homemade Frozen Pizzas

Pizza Dough

Bean and Cheese Burritos

Pecan and chocolate chip breakfast cookies

Freezer cooking is one of my #1 weight loss strategies. It’s the only way I can enjoy healthy homemade meals day after day. You can read more about this weight loss strategy along with the others I use in my ebook Organize Yourself Skinny

 

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Comments

  1. My girlfriends and I used to get together 2x a month and trade meals. We would each quadruple a recipe and then swap. It was so easy and cost effective to make just one meal.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    I like to make large quantities of spaghetti sauce, and soups to have on hand because i’m trying to not eat processed food.

    • Yes that is a huge reason why I freezer cook because I want to eat as minimally processed as possible. Thanks for stopping by MB!

  3. I absolutely love freezer cooking. Clean up is a little rough, but it is still worth it. 😉

    • I agree! I pretty much use every pot and pan but I do try to clean as I go. And it is so nice not to have big cooking messes during the week. Thanks for stopping by. And I love your living on a budget site!

  4. I own a freezer cooking site for beginners to advanced with weekly meal plans instead of once a month. I know once a month can get overwhelming for those starting out. I will frequently take two weeks menus, double up and fill the freezer. I did OAMC this month and yes it was cleaning for those days I cooked, but now my clean up is so light each night! I usually spread my big cooking into 2 or 3 days so I still enjoy it.

  5. As a single person, I find myself freezing spare portions anyway. I’ll keep an eye for easily freezable recipes on here.:)

  6. I will see if I can start a plan to try this – but my 4 year old would make this a lengthy venture. Maybe I could do middle of the night cooking? 🙂

  7. Kimberley Johnson says:

    Hi there! I have come accross your blog from a friend of mine from america. I live in australia! One problem i seem to have is freezing meals. When do you pack the cooked meal into a container and into the freezer? I am always worried about bacteria getting into it somehow and need to know at what temperature does everyone put their meals into the freezer? As we are a small family of 3 (so far!) should we store them in small containers? As i know you cannot defrost a frozen meal and then re-freeze. i have done that accidentally once before with pasta sauce as i only wanted to give my 1 1/2 year old a little bit for lunch and it was in a HUGE container. Anyways, i guess thats all i need to know! Id love to start freezer meals up …just need to know when its safe to put them into the freezer after cooking the meal! 🙂 THANK YOU!! x

    • Hello there!! Here is a link to the USDA that goes over all kinds of information about freezing and thawing foods safely. This is what I follow. Pretty much I package up foods once they are no longer hot. Many times they are still a little warm when they go into the freezer. You don’t want to put hot foods into a freezer container because it can compromise the effectiveness. Also it can make your freezer work to hard to try to cool down/freeze hot foods.

      I hope this helps. I will start going over more how to freeze individual meals to make it easier when you are only cooking for one or two.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. Hello I have a question. I made breakfast burritos last Sunday for my husband. I waited until it was cool before I wrapped in the tortillas. Then it went in the freezer. My husband said it was very good but a little bit watery. Do you know what cause it to be a little watery? I would like to know before I make more today. Thank you.

  9. Saundra says:

    I use seal a meal bags for freezing a lot yes they are a bit pricey but I thought about the waste as well and to just throw them away. Don’t they can be reused. An no not for food items but..I reseal bones, not everybody gets to compost, or things that don’t go down the garbage disposal so I don’t have to smell them. I use them to collect my used coffee filters coffee and all for a coworker, she uses them in her garden. With so much unavoidable plastic for me. I try to get the most of what I do use. We have a 2 use rule. Once for when it came in and one more time before it leaves.

  10. Darling O.. says:

    Hi,
    I’m a middle aged widow, empty nester, with diet controlled diabetes and a gluten intolerance. Any suggestions on where to find a list of budget, diet & freezer friendly foods for the gluten intolerant ?
    I had been struggling to drop 10 – 15 lbs to reach my goal. But, via stress eating I have added 8-10 lbs. I must get back on track! ANY help would be most appreciated !

  11. Armanda Baez says:

    Your an absolute wonderful organizer! I love your recipes! I’ve used the taco meat and shredded buffalo chicken. They tasted so delicious! I have made pasta, pizza, tacos, soups, and quick sandwich snacks. Do you have any low-carb meal ideas with these two types of meat? Ive tried to think of what vegtables would be tasty with them. Thanks!

  12. Christi Wilson says:

    Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait to try some of the recipes!

  13. Hello, thank you so much for this very useful information. I will be adding a link to this page on my blog this week. Freezer cooking – where to start. I do hope this is ok. If it is not, please let me know I will remove it. Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice and tips.

  14. Brandie says:

    I love your site, I love your recipes and meals! Thank you for sharing!

  15. Hi,

    Might be a silly question but since I’ve never freezer cooked before, do you allow your frozen food to thaw out overnight and then reheat it or do you just heat it slowly straight from the freezer.

    Also, if you are heading out to work and want to thaw something out, do you generally leave it in the fridge or just leave it on the counter so its full thawed when you come home?

    Thanks for the great blog

  16. Joe Shuster says:

    Fantastic compilation of ideas and recipes. I see so many appealing recipes (as always!).

    I’m surprised you didn’t include vacuum sealing while discussing food storage. I have 10+ year old FoodSaver machine and it helps me store my portion-controlled servings of food for 6 or more months. (I’ve even had year-old frozen food that tastes as fresh as when I cooked it.) The vacuum sealing prevents the typical damage — freezer burn, dehydration, etc — that plagues frozen food in containers and air-leaking zip bags.

    My daughter is using a contemporary FoodSaver model and she is very satisfied with it. I can’t vouch for other manufacturers’ products.

    Two tips on storing individual sealed servings:Good labeling (with description and date), and an inventory log are both important to keep organized.

  17. I should definitely try this out!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Freezer cooking is not a one size fits all strategy.  There are primarily three freezer cooking methods.  Depending on your personality, schedule, and life circumstances there is sure to be a method that works best for you.  Also, once you get the hang of the basic methods you can adjust them as needed. These methods serve as the foundation to get you started with freezer cooking. […]

  2. […] I ever started doing to increase my sanity as a working mom, and to help me lose weight, was to prepare and freeze all my meals ahead of time.  After a long day at work it is near impossible to find the energy or motivation to prepare a […]

  3. […] The Beginners Guide to Freezer Cooking – Organize Yourself Skinny.com […]

  4. […] Beginner’s Guide to Freezer Cooking […]

  5. […] dinners. You have to be organized, and doing it as part of a group helps keep you on task. Read more here if you’re interested in what large-scale freezer cooking […]

  6. […] Read a great beginner’s guide to freezer cooking at Organize Yourself Skinny […]

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