After my experience doing once a month cooking last year and my freezer cooking day last week, I have some helpful tips to pass along to anyone who might be considering doing their own freezer cooking day.
10 Tips for a Successful Freezer Cooking Day
1) Do it with a friend. I am so thankful for my friend Donna from Another New Season. I honestly can’t imagine doing a big freezer cooking day with out a friend along for the ride! Having a friend working with you makes the time go by faster and you can get twice as much accomplished. A win-win!
2) Get organized. Organization is so important!
- Double check your shopping list. Forgetting something really stinks.
- Do as much prep work ahead of time as possible! Browning hamburger, chopping onions and trimming the fat off of chicken are major time savers.
- Start with a clean kitchen.
- Have supplies like measure spoons, mixing bowls and pans setting out.
- Set up your kitchen in a way that will make sense for the big day. Additional tables may be needed for a work space and food packaging.
For our big day, I set all of the ingredients we would be needing on top of the washer and dryer in my mud room. This was perfect since the mud room is just off of the kitchen and it left my counter top space for other things.
3) Plan things to entertain your children. If possible, find childcare for your young children. The less distractions you have the faster you’ll get through your cooking list. If childcare isn’t possible or your children are old enough to stay entertained, be sure you plan something for them to do. For Grace, I was prepared with videos, new books and I let her play with water in the bathroom sink.
4) Make recipes you know you’ll love. If you are putting in the effort, time and money to make all of this food you want to be sure your family will want to eat it. The last time Donna and I did this we made several recipes that were new to us. We loved most of them, but… I may or may not have thrown away a year-old freezer meal to make room for the new dishes. *ahem*
5) Use fresh ingredients. Apparently I don’t do much baking. Apparently the shelf life of flour (according to a Facebook fan) is only 8 months. An unexpected highlight of our freezer day was definitely the moment I threw away my 5-year-old flour. White and wheat. Don’t be like me. Use the fresh stuff.
6) Freeze things flat in bags. The most common question I get about freezer cooking is, “How do you have room for all the food? Do you need a separate freezer to pull this off?” I do have a separate freezer, but I believe that most (if not all) of the things we made last week would fit in a fridge top freezer.
The key is to use freezer bags and lay the bags flat. I prefer Ziploc bags and never have a freezer burn issue when I remove as much excess air as possible. Money Saving Mom’s article How to Have a Freezer Cooking Day if You don’t Have a Deep Freezer has more great tips and a video that will help you find the space you need in your freezer.
7) Always label food and include the correct date. You will forget what something is. You will forget how long it has been in there. Save yourself the trouble and label all of your dishes along with the date. You would think that including the correct date would be understood, but apparently I missed the memo that we are in 2011. Welcome to April, Rebekah.
Don’t forget to include cooking instructions for your dishes in the label. Having the baking temperature and time listed on the packaging is super helpful.
8 ) Stay focused, but have fun! By the end of the day you’re going to be tired so try to stay on task, but enjoy yourself.
9) Document the day with pictures. Nothing is more satisfying at the end of a big freezer cooking day than a table full of food! So take a picture and remember the moment. And make your spouse look at it. And make him tell you how impressed he is. And make him massage your feet while he is praising you. 😉
10) Plan something for supper. The last thing you will want to do at the end of the day is make something for supper! Set aside something you’ve made that day to enjoy after all your hard work or order a pizza. I wish that I had planned better for the day after also. I still didn’t feel like cooking, but I felt silly for using one of my freezer meals already.
So what do you think? Are you ready to get cooking??