Tips for picking recipes for freezer cooking
I’ve learned that you can freeze practically any recipe…some just need to be modified slightly. I’ve purchased a cookbook full of recipes for freezer cooking, which is a lifesaver for a non-cook like me. Lots of helpful hints and step-by-step details. One thing to consider when picking recipes is to balance your recipe choices. Since we have a cow butchered every year, we always have beef in the freezer. I tend toward recipes that use beef…but variety is important! I try to include pork, fish, beef, chicken, and even meatless recipes.
Hints I’ve learned:
• Once you decide on a recipe, go all out and prepare as big a batch as you can. Once you’re making one tray of lasagna, it’s not that much extra work to make 3 or 4 – or even 5 or 6.
• Gather large bowls. If you are making multiple batches of a recipe, you will need a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.
• Don’t forget to plan for containers. Many recipes can be frozen in ziplock freezer bags (have a variety of sizes handy). You can also use regular baking pans, Rubbermaid containers, or even those cheap foil pans. The foil pans are personally my favorite. They can go right onto the oven, and while they can be washed if you really care to go there, they can also be pitched…no dishwashing = my favorite thing ever. Glad also makes some pretty handy freezer-to-oven 9×13 trays that are oven-safe, and can be washed and reused. They are pricey, and the only places I have found these are Target and online at amazon.com. Keep your eyes open for metal and plastic containers at garage sales. I have purchased freezer bags, plastic containers, and even foil sheets on clearance at our grocery store before, and I always stock up when I find them on sale. A great way to save money!
• When I use the cheap foil pans, I throw away the plastic lids that come with. They’re flimsy, don’t stay on very well, and make it hard to stack meals in the freezer. For any container without a lid, I put a layer of Glad Press and Seal down, and then cover with a layer of foil on top. I’ve also used our Seal-A-Meal to vacuum-seal containers with no lids.
• You only need to cook pasta, rice and beans for half the recommended cooking time.
• I write the name of the recipe and cooking instructions on each container before placing it in the freezer. That way, we stay somewhat organized and it’s easier for JC to know exactly what to do if he needs to get supper started.
• Since there are just two of us at our house, I use small containers like loaf pans and 8×8 trays, rather than 9×13 pans. Each recipe goes a lot further this way. You can control portion sizes better, too.
• I keep a list on the fridge to keep a running tally of all the meals that are in the freezer, which helps us keep track of exactly what meals are buried in the deep freeze.
Hope this helps! Have fun!