How to Get Started with Freezer Cooking

Having ready made meals in the freezer has been such a wonderful addition to our family dinner repertoire. It has helped immensely in getting dinner on the table. It was super helpful when nesting and preparing for bub to arrive, but it has also been a blessing now that I am working full time outside of the home. Sometimes it is just hard to get dinner on the table, you know?

I had read many hints and tips about cooking for the freezer. Looking at Pinterest though – Freezer Cooking can seem quite overwhelming. Those photos of huge freezers stocked to the brim with aluminium trays and snaplock bags full of food. Or bags and bags of slow cooker freezer meals. It looks amazing – but how on earth do you get to that point?

Yes – my freezer is mostly full these days. And yes – it is a bit of work. But mostly, it is just a good dose of organisation and planning.

I don’t spend my whole weekend cooking for the freezer. We also don’t eat every meal from the freezer. But I do have a system that I have mastered over the last few years, and that is what I want to share with you today – how you can get started with freezer cooking.

I started very basic – I made an extra batch of spaghetti bolognaise sauce and popped it into the freezer. When it came to later in the week and I couldn’t be bothered cooking but I didn’t want to eat take-away – I was poking around in the freezer and saw the frozen sauce. I cooked up some pasta, defrosted the sauce and wow – a homemade meal in about 10 minutes. It was delicious and tasted like I had made it all from scratch that night.

That is the beauty of freezer cooking though. You get to eat wholesome, homemade food – cooked from scratch – every night of the week, without actually having to cook every night of the week.

Want to know how to get started with freezer cooking? The Empowered Cook shares 3 simple steps to help you with freezer cooking, and get dinner on the table.

So – where to begin?

Step 1: Assess your freezer

There’s no point cooking up a storm if nothing will actually fit in your freezer.

It’s time to do a stocktake of what is actually in your freezer, and give it a good tidy up. Try different storage methods too. It helps to keep like with like – so sort what you do have into sections. If you can afford them, I find that using plastic tubs work well to store grouped items together. See my Pinterest board for some inspiration!

Once you’ve cleared it out, make a note of how much space you actually have available to store some freezer meals.

Step 2: Locate containers

Again – there’s no point cooking up a storm if you have nothing to store it in!

I use a few different methods to store my freezer meals:

  • Snap-lock bags. This is by far the easiest method – and it also can take up the least amount of space. The trick is to freeze the bags flat first. Once you’ve filled them with spaghetti bolognaise sauce or chicken curry or whatever, lay the bags flat in your freezer. Once they have frozen solid – you can then stand them up next to one another – kinda like books on a bookshelf. And now you have a ‘library’ of meals to choose from!
  • Glass / plastic containers. I prefer glass here because I can take it from the freezer, defrost it, and then pop it in the oven without having to transfer it at all. But plastic will work perfectly fine – it just means you’ll need to move it to another container to heat it up.
  • A ‘homemade’ container – when I am baking casseroles or pasta bakes for the freezer, I don’t want to keep my actual baking dish in the freezer. But I don’t really have another container to store these larger meals in. So – I do this instead:

I line my casserole with a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, a layer of baking paper and then I add my casserole to that. I then put this whole dish in the freezer for about an hour or so – until it firms up.

Once it is solid – I lift the casserole from the baking dish. I wrap it up in more aluminium foil and label it – including a reference to which baking dish I made it in. I then freeze just the casserole and the baking dish goes back in the cupboard.

When it is time to reheat it, I take the casserole from the freezer, put it back in the same baking dish and let it defrost. I can then reheat it directly in the oven. Super simple and saves me buying extra casserole dishes.

  • Some other ideas might be to buy disposable aluminium foil containers, or plastic food containers. These are convenient – but can be expensive.

The key is finding a method that will fit your space.

So go back to Step 1 – check your available space and choose the right mix of containers for that space.

Step 3: Start Small

If you start out with one giant leap – it is far more likely that you will get overwhelmed. You might have a ripper freezer cooking weekend once – but that is it. You might buy all these ingredients to cook 10 different meals and end up only cooking one.

But – if you start small – and just weave a little freezer cooking into your normal dinner routine, you’ll find your own rhythm and your own version of success.

My suggested starting place would be a meal that your family eats at least once a week. Something that you can easily prepare and something that you are likely to reap the benefits of quite quickly. There’s something very motivating about that.

For me – this is spaghetti bolognaise. We eat this once a week, and I can make it with my eyes closed.

Next – you need to decide which parts of the meal can actually be frozen.

Not all things freeze well – but most things freeze well if you figure out in what form they are best to freeze.

Take pasta for example: pasta can be a massive fail if you don’t freeze it before it is fully cooked through. But if you partially cook it, have a lot of sauce, you can freeze it.

It is a little hit and miss though. And it doesn’t really save you much time – as pasta can be cooked in less than 10 minutes.

So for spaghetti bolognaise, I simply freeze the sauce and cook the pasta fresh when we eat it.

I prepare the sauce in one of two ways: I make a batch specially for the freezer – or I simply make double when I am cooking it for dinner. Either way – we end up with several serves of pasta sauce in the freezer.

 

Once you’ve mastered these 3 steps, you can move on to trying another recipe, and another, and another.

Before you know it, you will have a freezer with ready made meals – and you will be well on your way to having dinner on the table, every night of the week.

What meal could you try? Unsure how to freeze it? Pop a question in the comments below and I’ll be sure to help you out!

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