Post by contributor Erin Long
Freezer cooking is all the rage these days. If you’re at all steeped in the frugal/real food/homemaking world you’re probably inundated with headlines like, “Make 20 Freezer Meals in 2 Hours!” or, “15 Freezer Meals for $150!” The list goes on and on.
For almost all of us, even those of us who love to cook, it can be easily overwhelming to face down the dinner hour after a long, hard day. Who doesn’t want to just pull something out of the freezer/fridge, heat it up and serve it?
It’s pretty obvious why processed convenience food became so popular: it’s easy. But eww, gross. Just gross. We don’t want to feed that junk to our families or eat it ourselves and for a long time it seemed like the only alternative was to prepare meals from scratch every day.
Then freezer meals became all the rage, and for good reason!
Freezer meals are the perfect hybrid of homemade food and convenience food. You make your meals from scratch and then freeze them, typically doing a large batch at once so you’ve got a freezer filled with meals that only require re-heating or minimal prep at most. You’re left to spend time doing what you want rather than slaving over a hot stove.
When I first heard about freezer cooking several years ago my interest was piqued. I loved the idea but the stars never aligned for me to really get into it. I have always either had very limited freezer space (think freezer in Europe), or a husband who works a lot of hours and three small children (so taking a weekend afternoon to sequester myself whip out meals simply wasn’t practical).
Also, I didn’t want to develop a whole new repertoire of ‘freezer-friendly’ meals – I wanted to cook what my family already liked but if I did that it would take up even more time. But I still wanted a freezer full of homemade meals.
So, I set out to find an alternative that would work for me.
One day while I made meals for a friend who just had a baby I decided to double each recipe and keep half of it for my family. At the end of the cooking session I had a week’s worth of meals for two families.
It felt awesome! Once I tucked all that food into the fridge/freezer I realized: this is what I need to do! I don’t need to set aside a full day of cooking and prepping.
It’s as simple as doubling the recipe you’re already making and freezing the extra.
You can do this with most foods: meatloaf, soups, roasted chicken, cooked grains, muffins, veggies, the list goes on!
Or, you can double a recipe and use each batch in a different recipe. I like to make mashed parsnips and have them as a side with chicken one night and then use the rest a few nights later as a topping for cottage pie.
A large chunk of the time spent preparing meals in taking out all the equipment and food and then washing it and putting it away again. So by doubling recipes you spend about the same amount of time but get twice the amount of food. It only takes a little bit longer to measure 2 teaspoons of vanilla than it does 1 or chop 6 carrots instead of 3 You only have to get everything out and wash your tools once!
It will take some time to build up a good stockpile of meals and it’s not as immediately effective as the more traditional approach to freezer cooking. But for those of us who aren’t able to freezer cook that way, or just don’t want to, recipe doubling is a simple alternative.
And with that – I’m going to go get some muffins out of the freezer for breakfast tomorrow!