Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making a Freezer Cooking Plan

We have talked about all of the fundamental freezer cooking stuff, so I think we are ready to make a plan and get to work. I have put together six key steps to planning your freezer cooking day. I go through this list each time I am planning, and they really help me.

That said, what works best for me, may not be the best for you.

There are absolutely no rules, so find what works for you and roll with it!


1.Decide on your approach

•Are you going to cook a full months worth of meals?

•Are you sticking with one meat?

•Do you just plan to have a mini cooking spree?



2.Survey what you have on hand

•Look through your stockpile, pantry, and refrigerator and make a quick list of items that could possibly be used. You will be surprised at how many ideas you will come up with just by looking around.

•Save yourself some bucks! I try to be as creative as I can with what is on hand….this makes the grocery list shorter and consequently cheaper.

•Example: Let’s say I am planning for a chicken cooking day. With a quick survey of the stockpile and fridge, I will see that I have spaghetti noodles, cheese, and cream of celery soup. With just one or two items I can put together Tetrazzini…one of my favorite freezer meals!



3.Check the sale ads

•Write down anything that is a great deal that you could possibly use

•This is often how I decide what meat I am going to use. When chicken hits a rock bottom price I stock up and make time for some cooking. Remember, a sale runs all week. If you are busy the week of the sale, buy the meat toward the back end of the sale (Sat or Sun) and cook up the following week.



4.Gather helpful resources

•Print off recipes from your favorite blogs (ie. The Cutting Back Kitchen)

•Invest in a few freezer cooking cookbooks. If you are having trouble thinking of things to make, this will help you immeasurably. I would highly recommend getting the Don’t Panic cookbooks…they are some of my favorites.



5.Finalize your recipes and make a list

•Narrow your list down…you don’t want to kill yourself

•Make a detailed shopping list



6.Prep Work

•Make a list of everything that can be done ahead of time and DO IT.

•Meat- many freezer cooking meals call for precooked meat. If you need cooked chicken, bake up all of your chicken in the oven, shred it, and store in the refrigerator for your cooking day.

•Veggies and Cheese- chop and shred anything you can ahead of time.

•The idea is that on your freezer cooking day, all you are doing is assembling your meals. It will go so much smoother, believe me…it is worth it!


What is your #1 tip when it comes to planning a freezer cooking day?


Please share, we can all learn from each other!




If you are new to this series, here are the links to the previous posts...






This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday @ www.wearethatfamily.com

12 comments:

Misty said...

What a GREAT series... I am really enjoying these posts. My favorite "tips" are:

~let my crock pot do the work for me on freezer cooking day. Throw all the ingredients in, walk away, allow to cool and bag. It is EASY.

~double batches. If you are buying spices etc. already make 2 or 3 batches of your soup etc. Don't just make 1 meatloaf, make 3. Why wash dishes 3 times.

Thanks again for this series, I am learning SO much!!!

Katie said...

Misty,

Thanks for the great tips :)

Glad you are enjoying it...there is one or two posts left in the series!

Tightwad Mom said...

You are a freezer cooking genius! I have loved all of your posts. I am a double or triple batch kind of gal. I divide the recipe out one or two for the freezer and one for dinner. Freezer meals are a great way to take in a meal to someone in need of a little help.

Katie said...

Tightwad Mom,

I think the double/triple batch is a great way to go...anyone can find time for that.

I agree, they are a great way to help others in need!

Kimi said...

First one in #4 is my favorite..I have that one down pat!! In fact yesterday I put some Parmesan chicken in the freezer...I still think that one is my all time favorite.

I am not ready for full blown freezer cooking day but I am getting better. I did several things yesterday for the freezer. All of it a step in the right direction!! GO me!!

ALSO, my dressings arrived yesterday!! Thanks again!! Have to get over this cold so I can try some!!

Katie said...

Kimi,

Ha ha! You know, I had to look for the first one in #4 twice. I thought surely I read her wrong...LOL!

Take baby steps and yes, GO YOU Kimi!!

SO glad to hear you got the dressing. I emailed her last week and hadn't heard back, I was getting worried!

Get to feeling better!

Misty said...

Katie,

I have a question for you that I know we have talked about a few times and yet, I haven't been able to grasp... What do you consider "rock bottom prices" on meat? Like stock up prices??? I tend to get confused and stand inthe meat dept. saying "Should I buy or wait? Will it go lower next week???" Like I am buying a car or something... haha.

Katie said...

Misty,

The whole price thing can be a hard thing to grasp. Especially when you are dealing with meat, because you can't just go in and make a price book...they change prices weekly.

First, don't take it too serious...it's just meat. If you pay a little more cause you need it the world will still go round. LOL!


When it comes to chicken bone-in breasts I buy at $.99/lb (Meijer this week). As far as boneless breasts I shoot for $1.79/lb. If I am desparate and there have been no sales I will go up to $1.99/lb.

Beef is kinda a problem for me since I don't buy it at the grocery anymore. Ground beef - $1.49 is awesome (Kroger this week $1.59 I think), but I would go a little higher if need be. Steak $4.99/lb. Roasts $1.99/lb.

I can't remember if I have wrote about this on here...if not I will do a post. I got another comment along these lines yesterday!

Hope it helps!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

This is a fantastic series. Freezer cooking can be really daunting when you are new to it. I've been doing it for awhile, but I am still learning new things from others all the time!

Tancy said...

Thank you for all this advice! I am a newbie in this realm and have alot to learn so I joined your blog and I will be back often for more advice.

Katie said...

Niki,

Yes, there is so much to learn and I know when I first started I was really overwhelmed with it all. I am still learning new things, too...

Katie said...

Tancy,

Thank you so much for reading and following. If you have any questions that I haven't answered, please don't hesitate to ask...I will do my best to help you get started!

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