Adventures in Freezer Cooking

Are you a fan of freezer cooking? Freezer cooking and I have evolved in our relationship over the years.

Growing up, we ate a lot of meals from the freezer, but mostly because my mom just loves to freeze everything and anything (love you mom, you’re perfect!) Once, a few years ago, I had a freezer cooking day with friends when we lived in Ohio (love you, Dayton friends!), but we never got around to doing it again.
I forgot all about it for a while, then my friend Joy (who runs the fantastic Facebook group called Fearless Freezer Cooking) asked if I wanted to join her freezer co-op here in GA. I joined for a few months and then decided it wasn’t a great fit for our family at the time.
After all of this, I began to figure out what I like about freezer cooking and what I don’t. I like to freeze things that I can just pull out of the freezer in the afternoon and be ready for the evening meal. I like to freeze things that can thaw quickly and easily. I don’t like freezer meals that I have to put in the fridge the day before to thaw. I am all about the convenience of freezer cooking, not just the stocking up part.
So as I’ve been preparing for baby #2 (any day now would be great, baby, really), I’ve finally figured out what I like stocked in my freezer. And that’s what I want to share with you today. I don’t know if it’s just me, but freezer cooking seems to be a hot topic lately (just search for it on Pinterest, I mean, really).
Firstly, let’s talk breakfast items. I love having muffins, pancakes and waffles stocked in the freezer that I can easily defrost in the microwave, toaster or on the counter. Most baked goods freeze really well if they’ve been fully-baked and will thaw easily at room temperature.

Banana Muffins (pictured)

Coconana Mini Muffins (vegan)
Tea Time Muffins
Sour Cream Whole Wheat Pancakes (pictured. when I freeze these, I usually make 3-5x the recipe)
Zucchini Waffles
Next up, breads and doughs. I really enjoy having frozen, uncooked pizza dough in the freezer as well as fully-baked and sliced loaves of bread. These are family meal staples for us. As you know, I tend to substitute at least half of the flour in most recipes with whole wheat or white whole wheat flour (just a reminder since this is not reflected in some of the links).
Pizza Dough (pictured)
King Arthur Oatmeal Bread
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread (pictured)
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread (pictured)
Lastly, full meals or meal components. Let me say again that I like meals that I can put right into the oven from the freezer or meal components that can be easily thawed and added to meals. My husband loves having these burritos on hand that he can take to work for quick lunches if there aren’t any leftovers around. My favorite item here is the turkey meatballs- no thawing required! You can broil them or brown them in a pan, then use them in whatever application you’d like.
Baked Ziti (hard to see, but pictured)
Spicy Kale Lasagna
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Bean Burritos (pictured)
Chicken Enchiladas
Lighter Chili (pictured)
Red Bean Chili
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Turkey Meatballs (pictured)
Pureed Vegetables (pumpkin, squash, applesauce)
I really went all out this time with my freezer cooking- I usually just make extra batches here or there and refill it gradually. There are lots of different methods of freezer cooking, but I can guarantee that you’ll find one that works for you. It really is nice to have a few things on hand in a pinch of you haven’t thought about dinner or you find out you’re getting a few extra guests.
That’s just a few of my thoughts on the subject. I’d like to make freezer recipes more available in the future here on the blog- I’m sure I’ll be doing more of it as our family grows. There are tons of other great freezer cooking resources out there. Feel free to share your favorite websites, books or recipes in the comment section below!
Comments
33 Responses to “Adventures in Freezer Cooking”
  1. You have one crazy organized freezer. I am super jealous, and aspire to achieve that some day. Perhaps once I have a baby on the way, I’ll have more motivation to get on top of that. :)

    • Katie says:

      More motivation, possibly… Less time, definitely! Haha. Good luck. I agree, though. Totally jealous! 4 kids, a mom (me) who works evenings and a husband who works midnights… This is what we need.

  2. Jessica Lynn says:

    Look at you! You were just a baking and cooking machine! Saving this post to Pinster so I know where to look when I need to freeze some meals!

  3. Colleen says:

    I long for the day when we have enough room for a freezer! I do as much freezing as I can with my limited space right now and it makes life so much easier. There are only 2 of us in the house and I will often cook more than we need, seal it up in freezer bags and viola, we have an easy lunch or dinner!

  4. Ellie says:

    When my family was bigger I never had leftovers to freeze. Now that it’s mostly just me I still make big batches and freeze the excess. It really comes in handy when I’m too busy or tired to cook. It also comes in handy when the kids come home so I’m not just cooking and washing dishes while they’re here.

  5. This is genius. I love to cook and bake but I usually don’t want to do so when I get home from work and am totally exhausted/starving so this is perfect for me. I will definitely give this a shot!

  6. I need to start doing this. I used to be so good with freezing meals for my toddler…now I have been getting lazy on the weekends but need to do it for the whole family!

    I’d love for you to share: http://tutusandteaparties.blogspot.com/2012/01/pinteresting-party-week-24.html

  7. I need to start doing this. I used to be so good with freezing meals for my toddler…now I have been getting lazy on the weekends but need to do it for the whole family!

    I’d love for you to share: http://tutusandteaparties.blogspot.com/2012/01/pinteresting-party-week-24.html

  8. Unknown says:

    My biggest problem with freezing stuff is freezer burn and ice crystals…how do you prevent this?

    • Laura says:

      If you package meat in a sauce, then freeze, you eliminate freezer burn and ice crystals. So, things like chili, spaghetti sauce, soup!, chicken in bbq sauce etc.. freeze wonderful!
      I’ve also recently found out how important it is to blanch veggies – it keeps the color, texture, and flavor of the veggies better than throwing them in raw, but more important, it slows down the rate that vitamins are lost.
      Use good containers and/or double bag. I save milk bags and wash them out – and reuse once before recycling.
      For me, food gets freezer burn mainly because it is in the freezer too long. Freezer management is a must. Now when I put anything in the freezer, I immediately put it on the menu list I keep. This guarantees that the item will get used in a reasonable amount of time, and not forgotten at the bottom of the freezer. Keeping a menu schedule, is good for so many reasons – it helps you keep on track financially, helps you use up items in the freezer, and takes the guess work out of what to have for dinner tonight.

  9. Briana says:

    Great idea!! Thanks for sharing. And to Unknown – you use the items within 6 months…any longer and that’s why you get freezer burn. Or if you leave your freezer open for things to thaw out, then that will happen too. :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    OMG, your recipe for baked ziti has me drooling! I noticed its one of the items in your freezer and I was wondering if you just froze the leftovers or if you made it to a certain point before baking and then froze it. Either way, how do you thaw and reheat it? I also have problems with my reheated pasta being tough. Thanks!

  11. Becky says:

    i was wondering when you freeze the meals…do you assemble everything then freeze it and thaw it out and cook it, or do you cook everything ahead of time and then freeze it so that you just thaw and heat?

  12. Natalie says:

    Anonymous- for the ziti, I make it up until you would put in the oven, but i let it cool and then freeze it instead. you can either defrost it in the fridge or put it right in the oven, you’d just need to adjust the time to be longer if you do it straight from the freezer.

    Becky- every recipe is different, so it depends. Check the individual recipes for instructions!

  13. Great post! I take a similar approach to freezer cooking – I like to take it from the freezer and stick it in the oven. I usually do a 1-2 session on Friday night or Saturday. It sure makes the week more enjoyable! Love your site, and will def. be trying some of your recipes! :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    How do you freeze your pancakes ahead of time and how do you reheat them? Mine turn into a gummy mess after I freeze them and they turn crispy when I reheat them on the griddle, but I find that better than microwaving them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    as for freezer cooking…i use all left overs and freeze them in a jumbo muffin tin. that way it is a single serving. i do this with everything from soup, vegetables, stuffings, mac and cheese to pizza muffins. freeze pop out and zip lock.

  16. Shelley says:

    You are awesome. Finally someone who likes freezer meals that don’t actually require MORE work than normal ones. This is just absolutely perfect, you are the best.

  17. Paige says:

    Timely Post! I’ve been freezing food as I await my third baby’s arrival. Thanks for the links!

    First time I’ve been to your blog – going to have a looksy…

  18. Rachel R. says:

    I’m with you: if I have to put the food in the fridge 36-48 hours before we want to cook it, it just ain’t happenin’. ;) I like to freeze things like muffins, browned beef, etc.

    Anonymous, we always thaw our pancakes in the toaster.

  19. Marci says:

    Found on pintrest and love your content. Great selection. And love the listing of pros and cons of your freezing style. I think mine is similiar. I don’t usually have the piece of mind to plans meals too far ahead. Bravo for you!
    PS I did find some of the content difficult to read b/c of the color of the page and the color of the text.

  20. koshertrade says:

    Nice blog you have here.. I would just like to share a directory list of frozen foods publications http://www.kosherregister.com/magazine/CATE0000000542&frozen-food-trade-publications-magazines-for-the-frozen-food-trade.html . you can check that out! thank you so much! If you know a frozen food magazine that must be placed there, please let me know. Thank you.. Joshua

  21. Love this post! Lots of great freezer cooking info and recipes. I have been freezer cooking for a long time and actually have lost about 40lbs using this cooking method. It is much easier to eat healthy when the foods are ready for ya. I am going to share this on my FB page for my readers.

    - Tammy from Skinny Mom’s Kitchen

  22. Michelle says:

    I did a huge 3 day freezer cooking marathon. All that food is long gone…except the few recipes that ended up not being very good. Lesson I learned was cook foods you know you like! HA! Breakfast burritos and sausage gravy for biscuits and gravy where some of my favorites.

    Now I am pregnant and plan to fill the freezer again before the baby comes, so our food wont be a concern during those sleepless days and nights.

    Thanks for your post on this topic.

  23. Joelle says:

    Great ideas, I also really enjoy the ease of getting some homemade food out the freezer and tasting fresh on the plate after a long day! One of my favorites is baked falafel! You can freeze it raw in balls and then bake it. A great healthy vegetarian option for those who want it.

  24. Monie says:

    I have tried several recipes and have decided that this is a PERFECT fit for someone like me, single parent with two teenagers and working graveyard shifts. It does take me a couple of hours, once every two weeks, to prepare the freezer meals. I defrost them overnight, while I’m at work, and cook them on low 6-8 hours, in my crock pot, when I get home from work (usually around 8am). AWESOME for the busy parent!

  25. Hi Natalie,

    Awesome post and great ideas! Found this on Pinterest. I just wrote a post about meal planning and shared a link to this on my blog.

    Jolleen
    http://thegraffitiedgardenia.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-to-create-meal-plan-part-two.html

  26. Kathy says:

    Great idea, but I would vacuum seal them.

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