For many, the convenience of frozen prepared foods is quickly trumped by the long list of unrecognizable (and undesirable) ingredients. Thus the dilemma: take time to prepare your meals each day (or leave your husband or children to fend for themselves when you’re unavailable) or give them something easy but of questionable nutritional value. The good news is, there is a third option. This predicament has compelled many a woman to try a freezer cooking day.
On this day, they set aside plenty of time and make as many meals as possible, sometimes preparing 25 to 30 before they’ve hung up their aprons. Then, as the name suggests, they stick them in their freezer so they can pull them out and prepare them as quickly as the store bought junk, only it’s healthier and less expensive.
These cooking days have grown in popularity, especially in the blogosphere in recent years. For people who aren’t big fans of cooking, it can be a huge blessing – cook one day and then for the next few weeks, just pull something out to thaw in the morning, heat it up at night, and it’s ready to go.
For those same people though, the thought of cooking one day for six straight hours (give or take) is not a more appealing option. For those just starting out or needing to get back to the basics, here are some ideas to keep it simple:
Clear out your freezer: Take a good look in your freezer for old meats or meals that have been in there a while. Even if you don’t cook them before the freezer cooking day, you’ll at least want them on top or in front so they won’t be buried by the new meals.
Start small: Some whole meals do freeze well (here’s a list of freezer-friendly meals to get you started), but if it’s your first time and you don’t want to get overwhelmed, you could stay as simple as sticking some chicken breasts in a freezer bag with your choice of marinades.
List, list, list: Make as many revisions to your lists as you need to so you have it down to a science. These lists can include not only what you want to make, but what needs to be started first (I recommend bigger tasks when you’re fresh out of the gate and save the easier for when you’re getting tired), and what needs to be done for each meal.
Get a head start: What can be done before the big day? Maybe slow cooking the meats (see next tip), or you could get out all the utensils you need before you go to bed so you can be ahead of the game in the morning.
Do everything you can in a crock pot: Ground beef cooks well in a crock pot; just mix and chop about every hour until it’s done (usually 2-3 hours on high for about five pounds). I’ve even borrowed a friend’s crock pot in addition to my two so I could free up my hands to do chopping, assembling, and other tasks.
Get a baby sitter: You certainly don’t have to get a sitter, but it helps. Sometimes things can get crazy and overwhelming. The kitchen is more cluttered and messy than you even thought possible. In those moments, little ones asking for snacks or pulling on your pant legs just might be your undoing.
Remember, the point of all this is to give you less stress. Do what you can to be organized before hand, and just keep reminding yourself of all the meals you won’t have to cook, all the pots and pans throughout the next few weeks that you won’t have to get dirty. It will be worth it then!