Let’s Get Started!
Freezer cooking goes by many names but the concept is still the same. Once-a-month cooking, OAMC, meal assembly, and frozen assets are also terms you may have heard for freezer cooking. The general idea of these is to cook one time, in bulk, and eat from these meals for the rest of the month.
There are a few different reasons why this is beneficial:
★Buying in bulk saves you money.
★Homemade meals are much more nutritious.
★Cooking chores benefit from economies of scale. Doing it all at once saves you in total cooking and cleaning chores for the month. (I hate doing dishes!)
★You will have quick, easy meals that are perfect for a busy lifestyle.
What Kinds of Foods Can be Frozen
Certain foods just don’t do well when frozen and reheated. Here is a list foods that freeze well and work great in freezer meals.
◆Meat, Poultry, and Seafood – Raw meats freeze better than cooked meat. It can freeze longer without getting freezer burn or dried out.
◆Breads and Baked Goods – Cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, bagels, and yeast breads can be frozen. These can be cooked or in dough form.
◆Beans – Cooking dried beans is much cheaper than buying cans. But, it takes so long to soak them and then cook them. You might as well do a few pounds at a time.
◆Rice – Brown rice takes forever to cook. This way you can cook a bunch, divide into portions and freeze for a quick meal later.
◆Butter and Margarine – Find it for a great price and stock up!
How Long Can Foods be Frozen
Different foods can freeze for a long time and some can only freeze for a short time. These times are not based on whether they will make you sick. Rather, the length of time before they change taste and texture. Obviously, these times are also safe to consume, but frozen foods will often change texture long before they are a health hazard.
Freeze Time for Cooked Foods
Beef: 2-3 months
Breads & Cakes: 3 months
Casseroles: 4 months
Sausage: 1-2 months
Soups & Stews: 2-3 months
Freeze Time for Raw Foods
Bacon: 1 month
Chicken Pieces: 9 months
Ground Meat: 3-4 months
Hot Dogs: 1-2 months
Pork Chops: 4-6 months
Sausage: 1-2 months
Steaks: 4-12 months
Whole Chicken: 1 year
Freezer Cooking Storage Solutions
The method you used to store your freezer cooking meals and products is completely up to you -there is no right way to do it. Many people use Tubaware containers, aluminum pans with the matching lid or tin foil to cover it. You can also use quart or gallon size freezer bags. The ones that work best are the ones that slide to zip shut. You don’t want to use the snap-closed because they might burst open in the freezer. Any water in the products may expand when it freezes. Another option that’s not as common is to use mason jars.
The best thing that you can do to keep your freezer cooked meals organized is to label each bag or container with the date, time and the product. You can Freeze full meals or you can freeze individual ingredients. Freezing each ingredient takes all the prep time out of meals- you have all of your ingredients chopped and prepared ready to throw it in the pan or crock pot. If you plan to do tacos one night, you can just pull out the already browned ground beef, chopped up tomatos, sliced lettuce, grated cheese and anything else you decide to put on your tacos that can be pre made.
Once a Month Cooking Supplies
If you are just starting out with freezer cooking, you’re going to want to get some basic supplies. Some of the items you need, you may already have. Since you will be cooking in large amounts at a time, you will probably need some bigger pots and pans. I suggest you get one of the big deep pans, a crock pot if you don’t already have one, and basic utensils. This would include things like large spatulas, a soup ladle whatever your chosen storage containers may be. Make sure to buy them in bulk to save some extra money. Amazon usually has great deals if you want to buy things by the case.
If you decide freezer cooking is a good fit for you and you use Amazon to buy your storage products in bulk, make sure you look into Amazon prime. It makes the shipping cheaper and you can get repeat shipments on the things you use a lot of.
Freezer Cooking Recipes
My absolute favorite freezer meal is lasagna! It takes so much time to prep and make from scratch. Making multiples at once allows us to have it more than once a month, and I only have to spend one day in the kitchen.
Here’s a list of a few of my favorite freezer cooking recipes – I hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you try them out and what you think.
Lasagna by Once A Month Meals
Crockpot Jambalaya by A Year of Slow Cooking
Ham, Broccoli & Cheese Quiche by Stolen Moments Cooking
Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas by Once a Month Meals
Once a Month Freezer Cooking Printables
These printables can make planning and prepping for your cook day a lot easier. All three of these planners can be found on Money Saving Mom.
Tips for Beginners
When you first start once a month cooking – you want to start small. That is the biggest piece of advice I can give you. Do not decide to start freezer cooking, and create an entire month at a time. If you mess up, you have a ton of wasted food. Start off making each meal with enough to feed you for 3 different meals. This way you can slowly start to stock up on freezer meals, and not risk having a ton of food ruined. Try out some of the recipes that you find on different web sites that are known to be good in the freezer. Then you can start trying to freeze the meals that you typically cook for your family. Make sure to take note of the kinds of foods that freeze well and how long they can be frozen without going bad or changing in texture. The goal is to save money and save time by freezer cooking. If you don’t take it slow in the beginning you may end up doing the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, go ahead and print off some of the worksheets for monthly meal planning, and use them to make your shopping list. The basic idea is to write down all of the meals that you want to make for the month, then you write down each of the ingredients for that recipe. It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning – but it really does save you time, energy, money, and probably your sanity. If you have a special recipe that you created for freezer cooking, make sure you leave it in the comments below with a link if you have a blog.