I fully believe in the benefits of freezer cooking, and I honestly wish I was better at actually doing it. Unfortunately, as many times as I’ve thought about it over the past six years, the only time I’ve ever actually pulled it off is before having a new baby.
Before our last two babies were born, I managed to stock a chest freezer with 6 full weeks of dinners (and plenty of breakfasts and lunches as well), which usually end up lasting us several months.
This time, as we count down the weeks until #5’s arrival, we’re in a bit of a different situation. My husband is now a stay-at-home dad and our two oldest daughters are capable of preparing many simple meals by themselves, so I don’t feel the same pressure to have breakfasts and lunches ready (especially since they prepare those most days anyway) or to have the freezer quite as stocked.
That said, I do still want to have several weeks worth of healthy dinners ready and waiting in the freezer so that we can just enjoy this babymoon, which is likely our last (for real this time!). I’ve also made a few concessions, stocking up on things that I normally don’t buy (like cereal and snack bars) when I come across a great sale, just to make things easier for my husband as well.
As I’m getting organized for a few freezer cooking sessions, I figured I’d share my plan here as well. You can follow it yourself or just use it as inspiration for your next freezer cooking session!
A few notes:
- I haven’t completed this plan yet, so it’s somewhat tentative, but I will be sure to come back and share my notes once we do. In the meantime, you can download and print the first version of the plan here.
- I’m cheating and using some premade condiments that I sometimes make homemade — like pesto and italian dressing — simply because I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and want to be sure I’m realistic. If I can get my act together in the next couple of weeks, I’ll go ahead and make some pesto and bread crumbs ahead of time and use those instead.
- We also don’t use plastic freezer bags or foil very often normally, but I’m making an exception because they take up so much less space than using glass containers for everything!
- I’m following the basic format that Jessica from Life as Mom and Good (Cheap) Eats uses since she is a master at freezer cooking and the author of Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. See her latest freezer cooking plan here.
- My girls can help with many/most of these recipes, so I’m thinking I may have my husband take the little ones on a Daddy date while the big girls and I knock out as much as we can in one day!
- garlic bread (6 loaves)
- pesto chicken (4 meals)
- italian-marinated chicken (4 meals)
- sloppy joes (3 meals)
- meatballs and subs (3 meals)
- stuffed shells (4 meals)
- naan bread for pizzas (3 double batches; 4 meals)
- pasta sauce (3 batches; 9 quart jars)
- pasta sauce with meat (1 batch; 4 quart jars)
- butter, 8 sticks
- clarified butter, 3⁄8 cup
- plain greek-style yogurt, ½ cup
- shredded cheddar cheese, 12 cups
- shredded mozzarella cheese, 6 cups
- grated parmesan cheese, 1 cup + 3 tablespoons
- cream cheese, 3 (8-ounce) packages
- eggs, 103
- milk, 27 cups
- ricotta cheese, 4 lbs
- basil pesto, 2 cups
- bread crumbs, 3 cups
- all-purpose flour, 6-7 cups
- ketchup, 3 cups
- italian dressing, 2 bottles
- maple syrup, ¾ cup
- noodles, 6 (16-ounce) packages
- old fashioned oats, 3 (42-ounce) canisters
- coconut oil, 3 cups
- large pasta shells, 4 boxes
- prepared mustard, 3 tablespoons
- worcestershire sauce, 1⁄3 cup
- applesauce, 2 1⁄4 cups
- tomato paste, 8 (12-ounce) cans
- crushed tomatoes in puree, 12 (28-ounce) cans
- almond flour, 6 cups
- honey, 2 1⁄4 cups
- white sugar
- bay leaves
- dry basil
- ground cinnamon
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- dried parsley
- black pepper
- sea salt
- baking powder
- active dry yeast
- olive oil
- ground mustard
- vanilla extract
- bacon, 6 pounds
- ground beef, 9 pounds
- boneless skinless chicken breasts, 32
- ground pork sausage, 3 pounds
- bread, 84 slices
- loaf bread, 6 large
- garlic, 12-15 cloves
- onion, small
- gallon freezer bags, 37
- quart freezer bags, 8-10
- quart jars, 7
- pint jars, 6
Prepare pasta sauce ahead of time since it tastes best when it has plenty of time to simmer!
Prepare naan bread dough and set aside to rise for 3-4 hours.
Cook bacon in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400 degree per batch. Drain and crumble in a bowl as each batch finishes.
Divide chicken breasts into 8 gallon freezer bags. Add 1/2 cup pesto to 4 of the bags and 1/2 bottle of italian dressing to the other 4. Remove air and lay flat to freeze.
Prepare garlic bread, wrap each loaf tightly in foil and move to freezer.
Brown 6 pounds of ground beef. Drain and set aside.
Mix sloppy joe sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Add half of the browned ground beef and mix well. Divide into 3 quart jars.
Add 10 cups of pasta sauce to the remaining ground beef and mix well. Divide into 4 quart jars.
Prepare cheese sauce according to directions and divide into 6 pint jars.
Place a gallon freezer bag in a medium bowl and prepare one breakfast casseroles inside the bag according to the directions. Remove air and lay flat to freeze. Repeat with remaining 5 casseroles.
Place a gallon freezer bag in a medium bowl and prepare one batch of french toast muffins inside the bag according to the directions. Remove air and lay flat to freeze. Repeat with remaining 5 casseroles.
If your Naan bread has finished rising, begin to prepare it for baking -or- wrap it in plastic wrap and move it to the fridge to finish the next day. Once baked, let cool and then stack with pieces of wax paper between each piece, divide into 4 gallon freezer bags, remove air and freeze.
Prepare sausage ball mix and scoop onto cookie sheets with a melon baller. Bake in batches. Let cool, divide between 8-10 quart freezer bags, remove air and freeze.
While the balls are cooking, boil pasta shells and mix cheese filling. Begin filling shells in between batches.
Prepare meatball mix and scoop onto cookie sheets with a melon baller. Bake in batches. Let cool, divide between 3 gallon freezer bags, remove air and freeze.
Lay pasta shells flat on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. Once frozen, divide between 4 gallon freezer bags, remove air and freeze.
Reduce temperature of the oven and prepare the granola. (This needs to be last because you’ll turn off the oven and let it finish baking in the warm oven.) When it’s done, transfer to 6 gallon freezer bags and lay flat to freeze.
I like that Jessica’s last step is to order in for the night. Do it!