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Freezer cooking is a real sanity saver for me. My life is busy and full of appointments and freezer meals are a must for our busiest days and weeks. I have two choices: fill my freezer with expensive pre-made freezer meals or make them myself. Not only is making them myself more cost-effective, but I like knowing exactly what is going into each of my meals. When I first began freezer cooking it was: intimidating, time-consuming and disastrously messy. Over the years I have come up with some hacks to make freezer cooking much more manageable. Here are my top large family freezer cooking hacks.
Have a printed grocery list.
I keep this master grocery list on the desktop of my computer and print as needed. I keep a printed copy hanging on a clipboard in my pantry. When we are running low on an item, we highlight it. When we are making our grocery list it is much easier to simply highlight the items we need rather than to try to think of every item we might need to purchase.
Be efficient and think through your purchases.
One day in Costco as I perused the whole, raw chickens I realized they were same price as the already cooked rotisserie chickens. That day I was shopping to batch cook and fill my freezer. I was going to buy the chickens, take them home and cook them, then use them in my freezer recipes. It occurred to me that it was the same price and much less work to simply buy the already cooked chickens. Now, when I shop for freezer cooking, I buy three or four rotisserie chickens with the intention of de-boning them and using them in my recipes.
Think about freezer storage.
One thing I hear from people is, “I could never batch cook, I don’t have the storage room in my freezer“. Freezer cooking does not have to take up a lot of room. There are three ways I store food for my freezer and all are compact and efficient.
- Stackable food storage containers. I use these Rubbermaid 24 cup food storage containers. They stack beautifully in the freezer.
- I buy disposable pans for lasagna, casseroles and enchiladas. Not only are these easy to use, but makes it easy to share these meals with families having a new baby, surgery, etc.
- I use gallon sized Ziplock bags for sauces. I freeze these flat on cookie sheets overnight. Once they are frozen, I stack upright in a box in the freezer. This makes them easy to see and easy to grab.
Use a #10 can to hold you Ziplock bags.
Save and rinse a #10 can. Use this to hold your Ziplock bag while pouring in soup or sauces. This works much better than having a person hold the bag. This will allow you to pour the liquid right in without a mess!
Choose recipes that you can efficiently cook/prep together. Buying 10 pounds of ground beef? Choose 2 or 3 recipes that call for ground beef. If you only have one large stock pot, you might not want to be making four different dishes that all require that pot. Really think through the prep steps.
Buy a huge hunk of meat and cut it yourself.
I used to be totally intimidated by this process. Now I feel confident buying a large chunk of meat and cutting it into roasts or stew meat myself. The biggest difference for me has been having the right knife! I use the Pampered Chef serrated bread knife which cuts through the beef easily. Once cooked in a crockpot, this meat is soft and tender.
Video from: Large Family Reviews.
This are my top hacks for making freezer cooking manageable. Tomorrow I will be sharing my actual weekend shopping and cooking!
Do you have any freezer cooking hacks to share? Please leave a comment!