***Give Away Alert! I will be giving away three copies of my freezer cooking cookbooks The Frozen Gourmet Just leave a comment on the blog sometime this week and I will pick three winners – the more comments, the more chances to win!***
Before I get to the steps for shopping for your freezer meals, let me answer a few questions from the blog yesterday:
How do you fit all those meals in your freezer?
I will give a fuller explanation later in the week, but one thing is important for you to keep in mind if you are shopping for things like foil pans to prepare your meals. Squares and rectangles pack better than round pans.
The other key is to freeze thing like soups, stews and marinades as “flatly” as possible. (I will have pictures later in the week.)
How long can you keep meals in the freezer?
Some people would say longer, but I feel that three months is a good rule of thumb. (Plus, it gets me to clean out my freezer at least a few times a year and not waste meals.
Where did you get all the recipes for all the meals?
A while ago I bought a “Freezer Cookbook” (Without naming names, if you were cooking in the 90’s and going to church, you probably owned – or own – that book,) and tried out all of the recipes. While I loved the technique and learned how to do freezer cooking from that little book, there were a couple of problems:
- Making 30 entirely different meals was a pain in the rear.
- My family hated most of the meals.
That is when I tried some of our family favorites Freezer Cooking Style. As I learned more and more about what froze well (and what didn’t) I got a collection of recipes that worked for us. I have those in my Frozen Gourmet Cookbook.
Carleta – My freezer doesn’t look anything like yours – mine is full of Mystery…
Trust me – if I don’t keep on top of it, my hubby and I have conversations like, “So what do you think that grey lump of meat it?” Roger’s response? “Garbage.” That is why I have to be so vigilant at labeling everything with dates and contents. Trust me – it is better for everyone involved.
How long does it take to make all those meals? Is your grocery bill astronomical?
Pretty much a full weekend. We figure that each meal averages up between $6-7.50. We could make it cheaper (cook our own chickens for casserole meat instead of buying Costco roasted chickens, making our own pesto, etc.) but we choose convenience over cost on some things.
How do you cook the black and white meat under the table?
Just like chicken.
Now to shopping for your cooking day
My shopping system is pretty easy. I triple my recipes, make a list of ingredients and quantities needed, and buy the biggest containers I can to satisfy those need. If I am doing marinades (and I am always doing marinades) I will buy the big Costco-sized bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, divide those into Ziploc gallon bags with five breasts each (because that is usually how many people I am feeding – less breasts for smaller kids who will share,)and then pour marinade in the bags with the frozen breasts. Super, super easy. (I will give more detailed instructions tomorrow about labeling, etc.)
When I got to advanced freezer cooking, I did an Excel spread sheet with my basic menu already tripled – that way I just had to see what I was out of and buy that at Costco and Safeway. My kids are never bored with my cooking and it makes my life SO much easier.
Things you will need besides ingredients
Here are some basic supplies that will make your Freezer Cooking Adventure easier:
- Ziploc gallon bags
- Sharpie Markers
- Clear packing take
- White labels
- Pam or some other non-stick cooking spray
- 8×8 foil pans (if you will be doing casseroles)
Tomorrow – I will share how to set yourself up assembly line and make it so much easier.
Remember, leave your comments and questions to be entered into the drawing for the cookbook giveaways!
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.