Freezer Cooking – The Short Version

I don’t usually do this “happy homemaker” stuff on my blog (simply because I don’t have much to teach in the way of housekeeping hints or original recipes) but I’ve commented about my freezer cooking days and a few people have asked so I thought I’d give a brief idea of a simple freezer cooking day.

A little back story – I am a mom of four and the older my kids got, the busier they got.  Add to that the fact that there were seasons of the year when I worked 3 part time jobs and one of those was a musical which tied up evenings.  Freezer meals made it easier on everyone!

Today’s plan was very simple (compared to other days where I’ve done a dozen entrees or side dishes).  If you are looking for good freezer cooking ideas you can find two of my favorite blogs here (love the taco soup recipe on this one!) and here (I’ll be sharing the marinade from this one a little later).

One tip – I’ve learned that LOTS of casseroles can be frozen for use later in the week.  Just prep them to the moment right before you would put it in the oven to bake and then freeze it instead.  You can use either freezer bags or casserole dishes.

First, it was off to the grocery store to do the grocery shopping.  TIP: I use Cozi.com for meal planning and I have the app downloaded to my phone so I don’t need a written grocery list.  I just use the app!  Hubby gets paid twice a month so when I shop for groceries, it’s for two weeks!

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When I freezer cook, I use the items shown in the picture.  The binder is a family cookbook and that plus the green cookbook are the ones I use most.  The laptop is used to access recipes I’ve pinned or websites I’ve “bookmarked” as well as providing some entertainment via Netflix!

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One of the things I did to start the day was to freeze some fresh green beans I picked up at Market on Central yesterday. Snipped the ends while I got the water boiling. I blanched them then spread them on a cookie sheet to “flash freeze” so them.  That way they wouldn’t freeze in one big lump when I put them in the freezer bag!

IMG_20130915_154743_645Then I started on some of the other recipes.  I got two skillets heated up and fried up two pounds of ground beef in each one.  The one on the left was turned into my mom’s homemade sloppy joes and the one on the left was simply fried up, cooled and frozen.  It would be used later for nachos.  I labeled freezer bags and when the content of each pan had sufficiently cooled, I bagged up the contents and put them in the freezer (I have a stand-up freezer in my basement since the one attached to my fridge is full of veggies and other things!

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I make a pretty mean chicken broccoli alfredo (with a homemade alfredo sauce) and I’ve discovered that I can speed up the process by prepping the chicken ahead of time.  Chop up two chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, heat some EVOO in the skillet and then fry up the meat!  Cool it, bag it, and freeze it.

I’ve also learned that I can freeze meat in sauces or marinades and they are super tasty – they just soak in the marinade before they freeze and soak some more as they are thawing.  The second link I shared above introduced my family to what has become our families favorite marinade.  It’s fairly easy – blend the ingredients then pour it over the meat which you have already placed in the freezer bag.  Thaw the meat then grill it and heat the sauce to use on the meat.  (Go to the link above and look for Steak Marinade near the bottom of the page).

IMG_20130915_170448_680Like I said – a simple day. I kept dishwater in the sink since I kept using the measuring cups, measuring spoons, and skillets.  I spent about an hour and got fresh veggies frozen and parts or all of four entrees.  Regardless of who is responsible to finish dinner, some of the most complicated (or messiest!) work has been done.

Looking to do more freezer cooking?  Go to Pinterest!  It’s a growing area of interest for many and I found some of my best ideas there!  You can find me – MaryJo – and check my “Freezer Meals” board to see the ideas I’ve saved or my “Did It!” board to find the ones I’ve used and liked!

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