When I first learned about freezer cooking, years and years ago, it was through Dream Dinners, the company that sprouted up just about everywhere. Do you remember them or any similar companies that existed for a hot minute?
You’d pick your meals online, sign up for a day and time, and go assemble your meals, go home and put them in your freezer. It’s an excellent concept because all of the chopping had been done – you just assembled, chatted with other people, and then in 90 minutes, had a vast selection of meals ready for your family.
Freezer cooking is still a common option in meal prep because of its simplicity and the fix it and forget it kind of approach.
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What is Freezer Cooking?
Freezer cooking is bulk cooking for a set period of time, whether it’s a few days, a few weeks, or up to a month of prepping meals at a time. Freezer cooking can be done at once, or you can simply double a recipe here and there and freeze the second meal for a later date.
Most of these meals are not cooked, just assembled, requiring you to spend time cooking each day. The amount of time needed in the kitchen is cut dramatically though with freezer cooking, especially if your freezer meal is going into a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
What are the Benefits of Freezer Cooking
Saving time is a HUGE benefit of freezer cooking. Even though you still need to cook, almost all, if not all the prep is done, leaving cooking as the only thing to do.
Freezer cooking can save money as long as you eat the meals in your freezer! One HUGE caveat I warn all people is that freezer cooking can end up costing you more money if you don’t keep your freezer organized and find a way to track your meals.
How I Freezer Cook
I meal prep every Sunday, and I try to find one recipe that I can double and put into the freezer for later and I try to keep track of my meals on Plan to Eat (link). I break these out when we’re so busy that I can’t meal prep for a full week on Sundays.
Containers I Use
Since my freezer prep consists of mostly casseroles, pasta dishes, stews, various burgers or meatballs, I have found the freezer containers I love to use.
Foil pans like these(clickable link) are my go to for lasagna or enchiladas or meatballs. They’re inexpensive and hold up in the freezer and stack well.
If you follow me on Instagram (@stephshares), you know I’m a HUGE cheerleader for souper cubes (clickable links). These things are the best thing since sliced bread. Seriously. The price point turns some people off, but you can get a similar result by using a silicon muffin pan (clickable link). I love them because I can freeze my soup and stews in these, pop them out the next day and they fit perfectly in a gallon bag, side by side, stacked three high. And they’re easy to remove and heat up the day I need them.
Gallon bags are another great option for freezer meal prep. Before I tried souper cubes, I used gallon bags for soups, taco meat, and burgers. If frozen flat, gallon bags stack well together.
DO NOT use glass! Contents can often expand causing the glass to break.
DO NOT use plastic storage containers such as Ziploc and Gladware. There are a couple reasons why these aren’t a good choice. One, the plastic, if dropped or hit the wrong way can break easy. In addition, they allow air into the containers which is what will cause freezer burn. This will affect the flavor of your food.
The most important part of freezer meal prep is to label EVERYTHING! Sharpies and masking tape are your best friend and work on almost all plastic containers.
Some Things to Consider for Meal Prep
- Always check your freezer temperature to make sure it is working correctly. You want your freezer to be at 0 degrees.
- Make sure you don’t pack your freezer. It is important to allow airflow throughout the freezer so don’t pack it tight!
- Organize your freezer by date. Put new things at the bottom or back of your freezer, with the older items in front.
- The general rule of thumb is to remove things the day before you want to use them and let them defrost in your refrigerator.
- Cream based items, green leafy vegetables, egg whites, fried foods, and fully cooked pasta and rice do not freeze well. These are better left for eating the day of cooking.
Freezer Cooking is Convenient
Even though there are a few nuances, freezer cooking can be a great time saver. Having extra meals in your freezer means you have an automatic backup plan if you need dinner, if a neighbor needs a meal, or if you have extra company.