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Meal Planning 101 – Filling Your Freezer

Fill the Freezer

Freezing food is a simple way to make your meal times easier and it’s one of the fastest ways to preserve food. For those like me who don’t have a nice big chest freezer in the basement don’t worry you can still take advantage of the freezer space you have!

What can your freezer do for you?

Save time with frozen prepared ingredients.

Always have a meal in the freezer

Stock up when there are great sales!

Save yourself time with frozen prepared ingredients

One trick is to keep ready-to-cook ingredients in the freezer!
Cooked ground beef and chicken are perfect for making casseroles or crockpot meals that require pre-cooked meat. Chopped onions, peppers and stir fry mix are all great for easy prep of recipes that you might saute or stir fry. I love having stir fry veggies prepared in the freezer. For a quick Chicken Stirfry I can simply grab the frozen stir fry veggies, add some pre-cooked chicken from the freezer and a splash of soy sauce, olive oil or other seasonings. Serve with  some rice and Voila! You have a quick meal!
We also keep frozen bananas, strawberries and other fruit for making smoothies or muffins.

Always have a meal in the freezer

Many of you have heard of Once a Month Cooking (OMAC), when you take time each month to cook a bunch of meals so that you have food for the whole month. While I love the concept, it’s pretty unrealistic for me with two little one’s and not much storage space.
I do this a little at a time. If I’m cooking a meal like lasagna, which usually makes a 9×13 size pan I always make it in a 9×9 pan and make 2. I will cook one that night and put the other pan in the freezer.  This can be done with many different meals and can be a lifesaver when you “forgot” about dinner. I do this with casseroles, sauces, waffles, pancakes, and quiche.
My latest favorite way to have meals in the freezer is our Small Group’s “Cooking Club”.  We all love it.

Start a Cooking Club

How it works:
Each person cooks or prepare one meal for all people involved, (for example, instead of making 1 lasagna for yourself, make 5) then we lug our coolers to church where we exchange meals. You don’t have to be as cool as us showing up at church with your Igloo cooler, you can exchange your meals wherever you’d like. The best part is that I get to stock up my freezer with 5 meals!! We do this once a month and it’s perfect I always have one meal a week in the freezer, ready to go! So I go home with 5 meals for my freezer! This is a huge time saver and so simple!!

Find more freezer inspiration here:

Simply Rebekah: How to Start a Cooking Club  <- this is my who started our group!

Stock up when there are great sales

There are a few stores in our area that have great sales on bulk meat a few times a year. We usually use those sales to stock up on tons of meat. For other food items using coupons can save you money too.
Here are some of the items that I like to stock up on:
  • Meat
  • Butter
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Cereal
  • Canned goods

Batch Baking

Sometimes I spend a few hours baking and freeze a bunch of muffins, pancakes, breads and other goodies. Doing this can be a real timesaver! I have been known to make extra cookie dough and freeze that for a quick snack. You can even make your own baby food to freeze!

Handy tools for storing food in the freezer:

Vacuum Sealer – I’ve read great reviews about this vacuum sealer, if you’re a serious about saving food in the freezer you should check them out!
Freezer Ziplock Bags – I use the Quart size and Gallon size all.the.time – these are a MUST HAVE!
Freezer Containers – We love these square plastic containers for freezing applesauce and soups.

 

I’d love to know what your best trick for freezing food or your favorite meal to freeze is?

Leave me a comment below!

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  • Rebekah
    December 17, 2008 at 4:00 am

    I personally think that a Cooking Club for Singles would be the best idea ever! I hated cooking when it was just for me. Think of how great that would be!!!

  • Audra Rowe C/O Barbara Rowe
    April 23, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I use gallon and quart size bags for most of my freezing needs, but it took me a while to find how to save space. I found if you always freeze your bags laying flat, you can move them and stack them nicely later to create more space. Then I also still have a flat surface to put ice trays on if needed. Freezing your items flat also makes thawing go faster since you don’t have a large clump to thaw, but just a thin layer instead.

    • Donna
      April 25, 2016 at 12:15 am

      I love gallon and quart sized bags too! It sounds like we use them in the same way too! Laying them flat really does save on space and things defrost faster. Having a full freezer is such a sanity saver for me!

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