Why Freezer Cooking is so Popular
Once a Month Cooking, Freezer Cooking, Batch Cooking, Bulk Cooking…the internet (and library bookshelves) are awash in different methods of cooking meals ahead. There’s a reason for it, I believe; busy moms (and busy humans) are looking for ways to make their lives easier. I have been doing one form or another of batch cooking (as I like to call it) for over ten years. My methods have changed depending on my circumstances and I’ve had long periods where I have done no cooking ahead. Today I want to share with you Freezer Cooking for Real Moms.
I am a real mom. I am a busy mom. In fact, I am so real and so busy that I haven’t put a meal away in my freezer for months. We have been short on both finances and time this past year and freezer cooking takes a bit of both.
Prep for Freezer Cooking the Night Before
Last night I soaked four cups of beans in the crockpot for White Chicken Chili. This morning, I drained the water and added chicken stock (made from a chicken we ate this weekend). When the beans are done cooking, I will add the other ingredients and this will be tonight’s dinner.
(Except now I have an Instant Pot and I now cook my dry beans the day of…no need to soak!)
Premade Sauce Makes Lasagna Easy to Assemble in Bulk
Next up was lasagna. Enoch (13) grated the mozzarella and Tucker (8) mixed the cheeses, spices and eggs. Both boys worked together to assemble the lasagna. I used to make my spaghetti sauce, but have found it more economical to just buy the big #10 cans. This time, however, I bought Prego spaghetti sauce because that what the store I was shopping at happened to have. We already had lasagna noodles (we buy a ten pound box at a time) and some cooked ground beef in the freezer.
Team Work Can Make a Huge Difference When Freezer Cooking
While we were working on that, Hezekiah had started his schoolwork (there wasn’t room for him in the kitchen) and Kalina washed and chopped celery and carrots for use in lunches and the beef stew we’ll be having later in the week.
Tucker was so proud of his lasagna! This meal will be eaten tomorrow, so into the fridge it goes. We put a bag of olives and shredded mozzarella on top. We will add those when it is almost done baking.
Once the lasagna was done, Tucker mixed the cheeses and Jubilee sliced pepperoni for the calzone we’ll have for dinner on Wednesday. These are stashed in our fridge, ready for assembly. I will use the rest of the Prego spaghetti sauce and we will make the dough from scratch.
Apollo peeled three carrots before he lost interest!
Once those were done, Enoch and I mixed up Lemon Chicken and Mariachi Chicken Rolls. Only, when we got to the “roll” part, I realized the chicken breasts I purchased were too thick…so I simply layered the ingredients in the pans.
And, I only had two freezer pans, so one of these will be eaten this week.
Once we were done with that, we put Hezekiah to work cooking the sauce for Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs.
We also cooked a pound of bacon “ends and pieces” in the oven. These are put in the freezer and added to things like scrambled eggs and mac and cheese.
So here are the REAL numbers. We began cooking at 9:30 and ended at 11:00. We washed the dishes as we went along, so when we finished up it was perfectly clean and lunch was ready!
What I Spent on Freezer Meals
I call this Freezer Cooking for Real Moms, because of course I didn’t purchase every ingredient for every meal! I used what was in my pantry already and used the meat that I purchased on sale.
Lasagna and Calzone: the ingredients I purchased cost a total of $30.21. I have spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and ricotta cheese left over (these will go in other meals including our English muffin pizzas for lunch). $30.21 means $15.10 per meal or $1.25 per serving. This is more than I usually spend, but watch how the meals average out in the end!
Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs (from Fix Freeze Feast): six pounds of thighs $6.50, honey $2.67 for a total of $9.17 or $0.76 per serving.
Lemon Chicken (from Love in the Kitchen): six pounds of chicken thighs $6.46, lemon juice $1.78 for a total of $8.24 or $0.69 per serving.
Mariachi Chicken Rolls (from Fix Feast Freeze): boneless skinless chicken breast $11.92, one can of olives $0.98, salsa $4.40 (we only used 1/4 of the bottle). We used red peppers and cream cheese that were already in our refrigerator. For a total of $17.30 for three meals. $5.77 per meal or $.048 per serving.
To crunch the numbers even more, I spent $64.92 on the ingredients for the main dish for seven meals. This comes to a total of $9.27 per meal or $0.77 per serving. Now, obviously these are main dishes, not complete meals. These will all be supplemented with: rice, potatoes, salad, bread, etc. But that is real cooking, by a real family. We spend 90 minutes prepping meals and cleaning up…which averages to 13 minutes per main dish!
Not bad for a morning’s work…