Meal planning has become a routine in our household. Most weekends, my husband and I carve out time to plan our family’s meals for the week ahead. On busy weeknights, having an easy to prepare freezer meal is a life saver. Part of our meal planning strategy is to have a stockpile of freezer meals to pick from on those busy nights. I’ve found that the best way to stockpile those freezer meals is to have a regular freezer cooking day.
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When I first heard about freezer cooking days, I was intrigued at the thought of making 10 or more meals at one time. I even saw one woman say she made 60 freezer meals at a time!
But I’m a big fan of the “clean as you go” concept when it comes to cooking, so the thought of having to clean up the kitchen after prepping a month’s worth of meals felt a bit overwhelming.
I decided to give it a try anyway. And over time, I’ve learned some strategies to save time and effort on freezer cooking days. Honestly, now I look forward to my morning of freezer meal preparation. And, when it comes to meal planning, there is nothing more satisfying than looking at a freezer chock-full of freezer meals.
These 6 helpful tips for a stress-free freezer cooking day will show you how to enjoy your freezer meal planning and preparation day.
Step One: Gather Your Recipes
When you’re first starting out with freezer meals, you’ll first want to come up with a collection of freezer meal recipes. You may need to play around with recipes for a few months to find out what works best for your family, but once you have a list of your family’s favorites, it’ll be a whole lot easier.
Pinterest is my favorite resource for finding new recipes. I’ve also learned how to modify some of my family’s favorites to be used as freezer meals.
You can use this family meal favorites printable to keep all of your favorite freezer meals on one page. (We use this printable to keep all of our family’s favorites in one place, not just freezer meals.)
You can request a free copy of my Family Meal Favorites template by subscribing below to help get you started.
For freezer meal cooking days, you’ll pick 5- 10 meals from your list. I’d recommend double batching the recipes, so you’ll end up with 10-20 freezer meals. You can quickly prepare 10-20 freezer meals within a few hours.
Step Two: Take Stock of Your Food and Supplies
The next step is to take stock of your food and supplies and create your shopping list.
If you’re a digital gal, you can store your meals and your grocery list in a digital planner to keep you organized.
One of my favorite digital meal planners is Plan to Eat. You can create a grocery list within the app to take with you to the store and then mark things off directly in the app as you purchase them.
Step Three: Shop The Day Before
When I first started freezer cooking, I would wake up early, go to the grocery store, and then cook for the rest of the day.
It was exhausting! I quickly learned that shopping a day or two before the freezer cooking day is a much smarter idea.
I still get up pretty early on freezer cooking days, but I’m done within a few hours. And it usually takes me under two hours to prep 10-20 meals. I’m amazed by how fast the process is once you have your system in place.
Organizing my workspace before getting started into workstations also helps to save time.
Step Four: Set Up Workstations
In my kitchen, I set up 4 workstations. One for cutting vegetables, one for cutting and prepping meat, one for cooking meat, and one for cooling and storing the food.
You may want to get your family involved in the freezer cooking day. Depending on the age of your kids, there are a lot of tasks they can help with in the kitchen.
Another fun idea is to have a freezer exchange day with friends. A freezer exchange day is where you each prepare freezer meals on your own and then meet to exchange meals with each other.
Step Five: Store the Food Efficiently
You may be thinking that this sounds like a great idea in concept, but where the heck am I going to store all this food?
That’s where gallon size freezer bags, come into play. Gallon size bags are a great space saver for storing freezer meals. You label them, lay them flat, and then pile them on top of each other in the freezer.
The other item I use to store freezer meals is aluminum pans with lids. You can use these for casserole type dishes.
For soups, you can use your glass mason jars. Just make sure you leave enough room at the top before freezing.
Step Six: Clean Up Right Away
The last piece of advice I have for your freezer cooking day is to clean up right away. I usually clean up station by station to prevent overwhelm. Cleaning up is always my least favorite task, but having a clean kitchen is almost as satisfying as seeing a freezer full of meals!
I try to have a freezer cooking day once every 30-60 days. We try to eat our freezer meals within 3-6 months. You can find food safety storage guidelines here.
If the idea of having to learn this new freezer meal cooking skill is intimidating, you might need to put on some training wheels to help you get started.
MyFreezEasy is a fantastic (and inexpensive) service that not only provides you with freezer meals recipes you, but also video instruction on how to prep and store the meals.
Do you have any tips for freezer cooking days? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
With Love and Joy,