Life is busy mommas! All of our beautiful momma chaos … the crying babies, dirty diapers, housework, errands, school lessons and homework, cooking, sporting events, church functions…throw some college classes, part time work, and sleep deprivation into the mix, and you can very easily find yourself in a state of overwhelming exhaustion before you even know it. During this busy season of my life, I have to strive for simplicity, and one of the ways that I have found to help make my days just a littler easier has been freezer cooking! Not only has freezer cooking helped to save me time and energy, but it has also helped me to save money. $$$ Cha-Ching $$$ With a little planning, preparing, and some freezer bags, you can prepare healthy home cooked meals for your family simply by emptying a bag into your crockpot or popping a pan into your oven. VOILA…dinner! I like the sound of that my friends.
Now, before you hit the hills running, hear me out. I know that the thought of cooking for an ENTIRE MONTH at one time can seem like a daunting task, but if I can do it, then so can you! Now, let me preface this by saying that what works for me might not work for you, and that’s okay! Adaptation…use what works for YOU! Below are a few tips that could help you get started with freezer cooking for your family too.
1) INVENTORY & ORGANIZATION : Before you do anything else, go through your cabinets, pantry, freezers, and fridge and inventory what you already have. Jot down everything that you have and all of the quantities.
2) USE WHAT YOU HAVE FIRST: Always try to use what you already have on hand before buying more. This cuts down on waste and your pantry and fridge always stay neat and tidy in the process. Double win
3) BRAINSTORM SOME IDEAS: Write down some meal ideas that you frequently have with your family and any other recipes or meals that you want to try. Include any meals that you can put together from what you already have in your pantry and fridge from Step #2. Plan for meals that will fit your budget. If you need to only do a week or two at a time that’s fine! Remember, do what works best for you!
4) COMPILE YOUR LIST AND BREAK IT DOWN BY WEEK: For example, in our family, we have ” Family Fun Fridays”. The kids usually want to have pizza on those nights, so I menu plan for homemade pizzas on Fridays. Take into account days that you will have outings, errands, and appointments and plan accordingly for your cooking time that day. ( I’m going to be gone all day so I just need to dump dinner in the crockpot before going out the door days versus I have time to do a little prep work and put the casserole in the oven to bake for an hour days) Also include special events that are happening that week (birthday parties, etc.), and if you have plans on going out for dinner or having other people over for dinner. Here’s a Meal Planning Sheet I made that you can use if you would like to. (Just right click and save the picture to your computer so you can print it out)
5) HAVE A SAFETY NET : Don’t set yourself up for failure! Mommin’ ain’t easy my friends and some days are just going to be “one of those days”. Life is going to happen, and there are going to be days that don’t go how you originally intended that they would. Give yourself some “safety net” meals that you keep on hand as staples in your home. (hot dogs, spaghetti, mac and cheese, etc.)
6) MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR MEALS : Write down all of the things you need for each meal. For example, on Taco nights, I need our assortment of fresh vegetables, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips, taco shells, ground beef, seasonings, etc…
7) MAKE YOUR SHOPPING LIST : Compile all of the items you need for your meals along with the quantities that are needed. Don’t forget to include your “safety net” meals, special occasions, and household staples. (sugar, flour, salt, milk, eggs, etc.) Don’t forget some good quality freezer bags, disposable aluminum pans if needed, aluminum foil, and some saran wrap.
8) *OPTIONAL* SHOP SALES: I used to shop sales and coupon more than I do now. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to devote to doing this again, but right now… it is what it is and I’m okay with that.
9) COOK, COOK, AND THEN COOK SOME MORE : Set aside several hours based upon your menu choices and get to cooking momma! Include your little ones in the process as it is a wonderful learning experience for them, and not to mention, they make great little helpers!
10) WRAP, INSULATE, AND LABEL YOU MEALS: Make sure to wrap your freezer meals thoroughly to prevent freezer burn and to seal your freezer bags well making sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Label your meals with a description and cooking directions just to make life that much easier.
And that’s it! I hope that these tips help to give you some ideas that might work for you and your family. God Bless my friends and happy freezer cooking!