Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I've learned from Freezing cooking!

Wow!  It has certainly been a while since I've posted on this blog! Whoops! Having a baby who doesn't sleep and then turns into an active toddler really keeps you busy!  But don't worry, she's a good sleeper now, so Mommy can blog again and not be a total zombie.

Just because I haven't posted doesn't mean we haven't had our Cooking Club, although we have fizzled out a bit.  Between our regulars we have had (or are expecting) 5 babies and 2 weddings!  I have good intentions to keep up with this blog now that summer vacation is around the corner!!! (Only 7 days left with my students, but who's counting?)

We are currently trying to set up our meeting for the month of June, but of those 5 babies I mentioned, one just made his debut (Hi Roman!) and another is expected almost any day now (c'mon Baby Tank!).  This month we are doing a BBQ theme: Burger Edition.  I'll try my best to get some pictures and recipes up after we meet.

Since we haven't met in a while, I don't have any fresh recipes to post, but I do have some things we've learned over the course of our year+ of meetings that I thought you might find helpful!

Being Freezer Friendly:

If the thought of setting up a cooking club and sharing freezer meals with your friends seems intimidating, you can certainly try a day of freezer cooking yourself!  Angela and I have done that several times when our club hasn't met so we still have full freezers.  So by all means, grab a friend, some wine (or, if you're knocked up like Angela, grab a decaf Arnold Palmer...aka an "Angie Palmer") and go to town in your kitchen at your own pace!  We have a board on Pinterest that's FREEZER FRIENDLY  that has some great recipes, pre-made shopping lists and tips on what freezes well to get you started!

Think in bulk:  it might seem a little strange to double or triple a recipe, but really it makes so much sense!  When I freezer cook now I almost always make two meal portions of each recipe.  And since it's just me, my husband and our toddler, most recipes I can just make as is and halve as I put them in containers to freeze and viola--two meals for the price of one!

Disposable pans are your friends!  My favorite thing about freezer meals is the clean up...NONE!  When I pop a meal out of the freezer it's great to just put it in the oven, eat and then throw the tin away!  Now I know, that's not very green of me...BUT I don't toss tins away every time I cook (or even for all of my freezer meals) and I always recycle those containers!

Freezer gallon bags are wonderful!  Use them to store your cooled soups, stews and chilis.  They enable you to lay the bags flat, thus taking up much less space in your freezer.  I just place them in a pan in my fridge to thaw in case of any leaks.

Mistake will happen, and that's ok!  There have certainly been some things I've made and frozen that just weren't so yummy when I cooked them, but that's ok!  You live, you learn, you move on and make something different next time!  For as many things as I've made that haven't frozen well, there have been plenty of recipes and dishes that the girls have made that have been amazing!

Befriend your crock pot (and crock pot liners)!  Another great thing about freezer cooking (and using those freezer gallon bags like I mentioned) is utilizing your crock pot.  Grab that guy off the shelf and put him to work!  Making pre-made meals to go in the crock pot is a super great way to get started in freezer cooking because on cooking're not actually cooking!  Just dump the recipe ingredients in a gallon bag and freeze!  When you're ready to cook, line your crock with a liner (easy clean up, remember?), toss the ingredients in and cook!  I personally only slightly thaw my ingredients and then toss into my crock pot, but you could completely thaw and then cook as well.

Meal plan!  It might seem silly, but I have really found that sitting down with a cup of coffee and going through my pin boards finding recipes to try really helps.  I am able to know exactly what ingredients I have or need, what supplies I need to stock up on and how many meals I'll have in my freezer.  It makes cooking day a breeze AND saves money! HEY!

Those are my tips for now...perhaps I'll add more with another blog post soon!  If you have any tips, etc for freezer cooking I'd love to hear them!  And we're always here to answer any questions you have about freezer cooking!

Stay full!

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