Freezer Cooking 101


Freezer Cooking 101

Receiving a home-cooked meal during a rough stretch is such a simple yet significant form of love and encouragement. After being taken care of this way as a new mom and when two of my children were very ill, I knew I wanted to do the same for others during difficult seasons of life. But, maybe you're like me. With three young kids under foot and two part-time jobs now, I struggle to find time to just get food on our own table at times. That's why several of my friends and I have made freezer meal cooking a priority for seven years now. We're able to feed our own families budget-friendly, healthy meals and still help others in need. A win-win! If you're not familiar with freezer meal cooking and the advantages, let me give you a little primer. Then, in my next post, I'll share our Top 10 Freezer Meals to take to others.

What is freezer meal cooking?

Freezer meal cooking involves planning meals ahead of time that can be easily frozen for later use. There are two main ways to do this: 1 - One option for freezer meal cooking is to use your "freezer smarts" and simply double a recipe you intend to cook and eat that day and then freeze one for later. This type of cooking is now second nature to me, but I never even thought about using my time wisely like this when I was younger. It's a huge help! So, for instance, if you're making lasagna, buy twice as many ingredients and put together two lasagnas at once. Tightly wrap and freeze one lasagna before baking and then pop the other in the oven for dinner. You can store and then bake the frozen lasagna within about 3 months on another night. 2 - Option two is that you can kick up freezer meal cooking a notch by swapping freezer meals with friends in a Freezer Club, which I share about in detail in a post called "How to Start a Freezer Club". I've been part of a Freezer Club for seven years now and am very passionate about it! I encourage you to read more about it, if you want to save time and money and consistently provide healthy meals for your family and others.

Why cook freezer meals?

There are so many advantages to freezer meal cooking, such as: 1 - Freezer meal cooking forces me to think ahead, shop intentionally and shop in bulk. Plus, when I cook like this, I'm using my time efficiently. That means saving time and money! 2 - Having a plan provides accountability to cook homemade, nutritious meals for my family. It's that nice little kick in the pants I need sometimes. 3 - Lastly, freezer meal cooking enables me and my Freezer Club friends to share healthy and delicious meals with families in need, since it's so easy to make one extra meal when already cooking for my own family. Over the years, our Freezer Club has collectively given many new moms, people in a crisis, and even a man recently released from prison some extra freezer meals to bake or warm up at their convenience. One of the women in our group and her husband, delivered a few meals to this man and then even taught him how to make one of the recipes himself.

What kinds of meals work best for freezer meal cooking?

You might be surprised by what you can successfully freeze and then cook later. Some of the very best freezer-friendly meals are soups and casseroles, of course. But don't dismiss baked goods like muffins and pancakes, meats in marinades, or burgers. Over the years, I've collected all of my favorite freezer meals in one post called 60+ Healthy Freezer Meals for Busy Moms.

Freezer Cooking 101

How should I store meals in the freezer?

My Freezer Club friends and I freeze meals in BPA-free Glad Ovenware containers for the most part. They stack nicely in the freezer and the food pops out easily into an 8x8 casserole dish when ready to cook. Other options include using freezer bags (best for soups, meat in marinades, or burgers), glass Pyrex 8x8 casserole dishes with lids, or disposable foil pans with lids. Be sure to let your foods cool completely before putting them in plastic bags or containers, though, to avoid chemicals being released into your food. You also don't want to put hot foods directly in the freezer, as it will raise the temperature in your freezer. The most important tip to remember when freezing food is that exposure to air makes food go bad in the freezer. So wrap your food up tight with plastic wrap or foil and make sure as much air is out of the bag or container as possible. I often put a layer of plastic wrap around a cooled casserole and then snap on the lid and even tape down the lid. How long does a meal last in the freezer?

How should I defrost it?

To find out how long foods last in the freezer and the best way to defrost frozen foods, use the USDA's suggestions and guidelines for Freezing and Food Safety here. Now that you have an idea of how freezer meal cooking works, I'll share my Top 10 favorite freezer meals to take to others in my next post.

About the Author

Rachel TiemeyerRachel is a stay-at-home mom of three very opinionated passionate little people who keep her on her toes at all times; a blogger at Thriving Home; and the part-time Family Events Director at her church. Her husband affectionately coined the nickname "ferdie" for her: (n) a foodie nerd. Rachel can frequently be found with her nose in a cook book or magazine, sneaking in a Food Network show while folding laundry, or destroying the kitchen while tweaking recipes to make them healthier for her family. Find all of her healthy, family-friendly recipes here.

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.

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