In the days before children, I used to love to cook after work. I found it relaxing and enjoyable. Somehow that all changes when there are three little ones under foot, crying and fighting. These meltdowns seem to be at their worst between the hours of 4 to 6 p.m., right when I should be cooking dinner.
Before my second child was born, I started stocking the freezer with meals. I loved the convenience so much, I made freezer cooking a regular part of my routine. There are a few ways to make this strategy work for you:
Once a month, cook all day for a day and stock your freezer with meals to last an entire month. This is usually the method I choose, but I must admit that I generally find it exhausting, and if you are brand new to freezer cooking, I wouldn’t recommend it. Take a few months of experiementing with freezer cooking before you try this.
Double or triple a freezer friendly recipe you are already making and freeze the extra portions. This is definitely the strategy I would recommend to someone who is new to once a month cooking. If you are making one pan of lasagna for the family, make two instead. Freeze the extra pan worth of lasagna and have the meal next week. That is one night you won’t have to be in the kitchen.
This method takes an even easier turn when you prepare a meal in the slow cooker. Most slow cooker recipes are fairly hands off, so not only is it easy to make, but then you can freeze a portion of it to eat later, and no work will be required then.
Freezer cook with a friend. I have not done this because my kitchen is so small, but I know some people spend the day cooking with a friend. At the end of the day, they split the bounty and each have a freezer full of meals to take home.
A few words of advice if you are planning a large freezer cooking day:
-Go grocery shopping the day before the freezer cooking day. It is also helpful to have your meat and veggies all prepped before the big day.
-Try to line up someone to watch your children. If you have young children, they won’t appreciate you spending all day in the kitchen. See if a relative or friend can stay with them. I pland my freezer cooking days around times my husband can watch the kids all day.
-Make sure you pick recipes that are freezer friendly. I usually go to food.com and type in OAMC. Hundreds of freezer cooking recipes will pop up. I also write my freezer cooking plan on this blog every month with links to the recipes. Some months I even write step-by-step what I will do during the day. You could follow along with one of these monthly guides to get started.
It may take a few months to get used to, but if you are willing to put in some time up front, I promise that you will enjoy the many nights you can avoid cooking (except to reheat a meal from the freezer).