Okay, so this is basically a food blog, and in my house that means (in case you’re new here) two “F”‘s: Freezer and Frugality. I have talked a lot about frugality lately (hey, who isn’t these days?), but not so much about freezing. At least not the basics. So here we go.
Freezing Rule #1 (and the only one that really counts)
Find whatever system works best for you and your family.
Period. What I mean by this is that there are a zillion different websites, cookbooks, forum threads, product endorsers, and gurus out there who will tell the “best” way to freezer cook, but they are ALL WRONG. The only best way is the way that works for you. You need to find the way which focuses on the amount of time, and chunks of time, you have for both prepping and cooking. What fits your space and equipment. What your family enjoys the taste of. How often you like to cook, and how often you like to plan dinners. You need to focus on what system makes you happy, makes your family fed nutritiously, and doesn’t force you to waste food.
Myself, I have a toddler who loves food but hates watching me cook from behind the gate we have. And I have a 6yo whodesperately wants to help me with everything, but isn’t quite up to most jobs, although she has been helping more and more. These are the two biggest reasons I don’t do literal “Once A Month Cooking”.
I do “Double-Ups”. Whenever I cook something I know will freeze well (like lasagna), I will make two (or more) at once. I also love doing “Dump” recipes, put some meat in a bag with ingredients for a marinade and it marinates as it thaws. Easy to assemble and usually tastes delicious. I will also (as I did a few weeks ago) cook specifically to feed the freezer, but I take little bites at it for several days. These are what work best for me.
So how do you find out what works for you? Well, first you need to ask yourself some questions. Do you love playing with food, or do you look at cooking as a chore which needs to be done? Be honest with yourself, you don’t have to tell anyone your answer. 🙂 Are you terrified by the idea of preparing 30 pounds of hamburger in one day? How many mouths do you feed? How much time do you have available each night? Do you have days you would be wiling to devote to cooking? Do you have willing and able helpers (such as teenagers, roommates, or spouses)? Do you have things which making prepping large amounts of food easier (like a food processor, bread machine, crockpot, etc.)? The answers to these questions can start to guide you to the path that will work best.
Then ease your way in. Do not try to go whole hog the first time, or you will never believe you can do it. We will discuss ways of easing your way in over the next couple of weeks.
Here are some links to sites which have helped me trememendously in my journey to freezer cooking. They offer advice, recipes, OAMC plans, and a variety of viewpoints.
The Recipezaar Cooking on a Budget Forums – full of freindly folk who live the mantra “There are no stupid questions!”
Robbyn’s Friendly Freezer
– explains pretty well what a traditional OAMC session is like, and has a lot of (mostly old) links
30 Day Gourmet – this site is to sell their books, but they have interesting newsletter and most of the recipes are free to the public
Next Wednesday: Freezer Essentials!