So now you should have a stash of items that freeze very easily that can be used as building blocks to produce a meal. These are either the main focus, or simply a way to avoid using canned stuff. 🙂 Now the second level or freezer cooking, as I see it, is doubling up, or cooking multiples one at a time.
First the method: Pretty simple, many dinners or entrees or side dishes can be easily doubled. It doesn’t really take a lot longer to assemble 2 lasagnas (trust me!) than to assemble one. Simply assemble one in a pan prepped for freezing (lined with heavy duty aluminum foil), then freeze it. Other recipes can be frozen in a freezer bag.
Now let me make a quick interjection before we go on any further. Frozen food looks different than fresh. In fact, things that taste NOTHING alike, like sloppy joe filling and taco filling look almost identical once frozen! How are you to know that this casserole is the vegetarian lasagna you made for your sister’s visit this week, as opposed to the regular meaty one you made for your family for next week? Lable, label, label! What it is, when you made it at the minimum. But I have seen people make labels which tells what it is, when it was made, when it should be thrown out, and how to reheat. I usually just put the minimum using a Sharpie on freezer bags, or on a label for foil wrapped casseroles.
So what are the pros of doubling up? This is an excellent way to fill the freezer if you really enjoy cooking, but are sometimes short of time, or sometimes short of desire to cook. Instead of calling for delivery, or instead of buying a frozen dinner to keep for this situation, you will have a yummy dinner you cooked yourself. This type of freezer cooking doesn’t require a lot of pre-planning, nor a lot of commitment. You can cook most of your meals from fresh each week, but still have something to pull out for that day when you have a baseball game to get to and an afterschool activity, and would love something to just nuke and serve in between! 🙂
What are the cons of doubling up? It doesn’t take a lot of pre-planning. If you aren’t the type of cook who occasionally has a bad day and would like an alternative to delivery, this might not be for you. 🙂 If your life has the kind of structure where meals can be planned out far in advance, this might not be for you. Also, this kind of cooking will not fill your freezer very fast, so if you have a lot of hectic or bad days where you would like to pull something out of the freezer for a quick dinner, you might be having chili 3 nights in a row. 😛
Ok, so your homework for this week? Find a recipe, any recipe that has instructions for freezing and reheating. Make a double batch. Serve half for dinner, and freeze the rest. Use it the next week. See how you feel about it. See how your family liked it. If you liked having a stash of good food in the freezer, you might be ready to step up.
Next week, the full OAMC. 🙂