The freezer should absolutely be your favorite cooking appliance, find out why and how you can get started with freezer cooking today.
When I put today’s topic on the calendar, I thought it would be easy to talk about but…but as I sat down to write it I got overwhelmed.
Not because this topic is overwhelming, persay, but it’s a HUGE topic, one that has made a huge difference in my life in recent months and years.
Why the freezer is the most under-utilized appliance in your kitchen
Let’s get started chatting about why the freezer is likely the appliance in your kitchen that you are using the LEAST effectively.
Whether you love or hate cooking, I think we can all agree that there is at least some monotony around cooking (just like any chore).
Many cooking tasks go right up there with laundry in repetitive nature. I think many people get frustrated with cooking because it seems like you can never REALLY get a handle on it. No matter how well you do on Monday, you will have to cook again on Tuesday and so on and so forth.
For this reason a lot of people turn to meal prep, to at least somewhat consolidate those monotonous tasks and spend less time in the kitchen, and meal prep certainly solves a lot of problems.
…but there are problems with meal prep as well, the two biggest (for me) being that food only lasts 3-4 days in the fridge after it’s meal-prepped, AND life is too unpredictable and I end up throwing food that has been meal prepped away.
The solution? Freezer cooking or freezer meal prep.
Utilizing your freezer well will save you more time in the kitchen than anything else you do in the kitchen.
Suddenly you can prepare for days and even weeks in advance and finally get on top of cooking for awhile.
What do you need to get started with freezer cooking?
The other cool thing about freezer cooking? It takes barely anything to get started.
There are plenty of products available to make freezer cooking easier, but to get started you literally need a freezer, and some kind of container to freeze in. That’s it.
I will share a few of my favorite products for freezer cooking, but keep in mind that you don’t NEED these things right away.
My favorite containers for freezing are CHEAP. The reason for this, is that when you start creating your own inventory of frozen convenience food, you might be tying up your containers for awhile until you pull them out to use whatever you meal prepped and froze.
So my favorite containers?
Mason Jars, Freezer bags, and these cheap-o restaurant containers. …oh and disposable pans for casserole-type dishes. (note that the restaurant containers do shatter fairly easily from the freezer, but they are so cheap that it doesn’t bother me too much, glass containers would be more durable but also much more costly).
I also HIGHLY recommend getting a chest freezer because once you get started with this you will become addicted, I promise. We got ours at best buy for $150 and it was TOTALLY worth it.
I also recommend some masking tape and sharpies for labelling, and possible some organizing bins (especially if you use a chest freezer).
What foods can I freeze?
One of the biggest reasons that the freezer goes un-used, is because people have NO IDEA what you can freeze!
People assume that after food is cooked and has become leftovers that it has a few days of life in the refrigerator before it’s gone forever, but that is simply not the case.
I always like to point people to the freezer aisle in their grocery store and remind them that “if they can freeze it, you can freeze it.”
Sure, there may be a few cases where they are using special processes to freeze their food (i’ll try to share my hacks for those cases in all my education so keep following along), but honestly, the sky is the limit when it comes to stocking your freezer.
In fact, I’m not even going to go into what freezes well because almost EVERYTHING freezes reasonably well with the right preparation, instead I’m going to go into what you shouldn’t freeze.
Foods that don’t freeze well.
- Some Veggies
- Many veggies do great in the freezer, but others should never be frozen. Any veggie that is meant to be enjoyed without cooking (lettuce is a prime example) won’t do well in the freezer. Even veggies that DO freeze well (like bell peppers) shouldn’t be frozen unless you will be cooking them because they will go soggy in the freezer and lose their shape.
- Some Dairy products
- The texture of dairy products changes in the freezer. I often freeze dairy products as part of a finished dish (soups, cream cheese frosting, etc…) and they do fine, but if you want to enjoy them plain it’s probably best not to freeze them. The exception would be milk that you plan to use for cooking. Some people also drink milk that was frozen, but it can separate a little which may be undesirable for some people
- Uncooked potatoes
- Uncooked potatoes are not your best bet, but use my method here for pre-cooking them and you’ll love having a stock of potatoes in your freezer. Note the method works for both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.
- Citrus Fruit
- But you can freeze the zest which I love to do if I am juicing fruit but not using the zest.
- Eggs in shells
- But you can separate the whites and yolks and freeze them separately. I often have egg whites or yolks in my freezer if a dish I am making only uses one or the other.
How long can I use foods that I have frozen?
A good rule of thumb is 2-3 months. It’s important to note that most foods will stay safe for much longer (even indefinitely) but the quality will probably start to degrade after about 3 months.
Also, if you’re just continually stocking your freezer but not using the foods you freeze you probably aren’t saving much time are you? So I say 3 months is a good rule of thumb to make sure you are actually enjoying some saved time from your freezer meal prep.
How to get started with freezer cooking
This is the part of this post that I start to get just a little overwhelmed, because there are so many ways to get started with freezer cooking.
…so bear in mind that this is by no means an all-inclusive SYSTEM of getting started with freezer cooking, but rather some helpful tips and tricks for jumping in.
(If you are looking for an all-inclusive system, it’s COMING. Hop on my email list to be the first to know when the course and system launches).
Freezer cooking tips and tricks
- Stop making single batches of foods. Making spaghetti sauce for lasagna? Triple it! Making a chicken marinade? Marinade enough for several meals. Double all your casserole dishes and freeze them for a complete meal later.
- Freeze your leftovers-I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually want to eat the same thing that I ate yesterday again for awhile…but by freezing it immediately after enjoying it once you’ll maintain the quality as much as possible
- Freeze staple items that can become lots of different meals later
- Freeze desserts-Freezing desserts is one of my favorite portion control tactics, it stops me from eating an entire batch of cookies, AND it ensures that there’s always a little something in the freezer when I need it.
Like I said, there is soooo much more to freezer cooking, but I hope this little guide shows you just how easy it is to at least get started.
Questions about freezer cooking? Send me a message or leave a comment below and it may just become a topic for another day!
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