I recently chatted with Rachel Tiemeyer from Thriving Home about her bread and butter, freezer cooking.
If you’ve never heard of it before, freezer cooking is a major game changer for busy moms, dads, or caretakers.
Let’s get into what freezer cooking is, why freezer cooking is great, how long it actually takes, and how incorporating just one freezer cooking prep session per week can save you THOUSANDS of dollars a year.
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How can freezer meals help you achieve balance in your home?
In the age of social media, it is especially important to remember that nobody really has it all together. Behind every perfectly staged family photo, there is a messy behind-the-scenes!
But over the years, I’ve learned that the key to balance is being OK that some things go poorly while others go well, and that you will have to sacrifice certain things to prioritize other things — like being available to your family and taking care of yourself.
We are often too hard on ourselves, but we are doing our best.
Did you hear me? You’re doing a good job!
Freezer meals help take one thing off the list, knowing that I have a few healthy meals in the freezer ready for those nights where I can’t even look at the stove is heaven sent.
What is freezer cooking?
Freezer cooking is a method of meal prep that focuses on making healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals that freeze and reheat well. The recipes tend to make 4-6 servings, depending on your family size.
Often, people hear “frozen meals” and assume that the recipes will have unhealthy, processed ingredients or they’ll be mushy and not taste good.
The ladies at Thriving Home work hard to break those stereotypes.
Over the years, they have had hundreds of recipe testers and have really homed in on using helpful meal prep methods that turn out just like fresh meals.
Freezer cooking can transform your whole week and give you more time to sit down with family instead of stressing and spending time prepping food every night.
How do you get started freezer cooking?
People also assume that freezer cooking means you cook something, freeze the leftovers, and then reheat them. You can do this, but there is a better way!
Here are some of our beginner tips for great freezer cooking.
Freezer cooking tips
Instead of cooking your meal to completion, prepare something up until the point where you would cook it instead, then freeze it at that point.
For example, if you were prepping a soup, you would sauté everything and then freeze it. When you are ready to eat, that is when you would simmer the soup for a while and let everything cook together.
If there is pasta in the soup, don’t cook it ahead of time. Instead, add it when you are simmering the meal to eat.
The same goes for something like a casserole: make all the layers, freeze it before baking, then bake it when you are ready to eat. If there is pasta in the casserole, cook the pasta al dente before you freeze it.
This technique prevents you from overcooking everything and creating textural issues. Cook pasta al dente before you put it in a casserole. Avoid putting the pasta in a soup until ready to cook.
The key to good frozen meals is to reduce air exposure to food when you freeze it.
Always put your food in a freezer bag, vacuum seal it, and/or individually wrap foods in foil then a plastic bag.
Vacuum sealers are really handy for freezer cooking (and when you buy in bulk).
Don’t have a vacuum sealer? You can use things like a straw to help suck the air out of the bag before freezing.
If you know things will only be in the freezer for a short time, you can worry less about storage. But for any long stays in the freezer, it is important to wrap food as tightly as possible with little to no air exposure.
Why is freezer cooking so great?
Freezer cooking can really transform your week. Here are some of our favorite things about freezer cooking:
- Saves time in the kitchen
- Can do double duty – simultaneously make one meal for tonight, save one for the freezer
- Saves money to buy in bulk
- Saves money by preventing eating out
- Allows you to control what goes into your food, making healthier meals
- Involves kids in the cooking process at home and increases the likelihood they’ll eat it if they help make it
- Gets you to the table for more valuable family time
Who is freezer cooking for?
Freezer meals can be great for anyone, but they are especially great for expectant mothers, busy parents, or caretakers.
Pregnant moms can make meals way ahead of time so they’ll be ready, even if the baby comes early.
When friends are going through a hard time, I like to cook up some meals and put them in their freezer so they have one less thing to worry about.
Freezer meals can also be a great way to cook meals with friends and donate to places like the NICU and Ronald McDonald House (always check with RMH and the place you want to donate to first. When I stayed at RMH, the volunteers had to cook in the kitchen due to Food safety.).
1 Hour Freezer Prep
Thriving Home has a series of freezer meals where all the prep work is done.
Here’s what’s included in the prep sessions:
- Meal Prep Menu with Serving Suggestions
- Shopping and Prep Lists
- 1 Hour Step-by-Step Instructions
- Recipes Used in This Prep Session
- Freezer Labels
I did a whole prep session in an hour and the fact that they included the freezer labels was a huge bonus. I printed them off, taped them on the freezer containers and I was done. The labels include cooking from frozen instructions. As I said, all the prep is done for you.
Check out the 1 Hour Freezer Prep and everything Thriving Home has to offer and don’t forget to use code RANDA20 for a discount.