Tag Archives: save money

The Joys of Freezer Cooking

Before Rachael (#3) was born, I filled my freezer with casseroles and other one-pan meals I had found online. I never tried any of the recipes ahead of time to make sure we actually liked them (can you see where I’m going with this?).¬† We were lucky with most of the meals I made, but there were definitely a few that I’ve never made again. My freezer full of meals was also expensive. I used a lot of convenient ingredients, like boneless chicken breast tenders and frozen cooked potatoes. I decided that freezer cooking simply wasn’t for me!

Towards the end of my most recent pregnancy, I started thinking about freezer cooking again. I wanted convenience and ease after the baby was born, but I didn’t want to waste time and money on casserole-type meals that we wouldn’t enjoy. My prior experience taught me that we simply aren’t casserole people. I decided that instead of making full meals, I could make and freeze the most time-consuming portions of each meal — things like yeast breads and doughs and other quick breads. These were easy to make and I was able to use tried-and-true recipes that I already knew we liked.

By the time Michael (#4) was born, my freezer was packed with all kinds of goodies. My mother-in-law was able to stay with us for about 2 weeks, so I wanted to make sure that she had easy meal options to feed the other 3 kids while The Mister and I were at the hospital. A few of the things I made ahead of time included biscuits, cinnamon rolls, freezer-friendly baked oatmeal, sandwich bread, and pizza dough and sauce.

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Being the wonderful and kind woman that she is, my mother-in-law didn’t use ANY of my pre-made foods! She said they would be more useful after she went home and we were on our own again. And she was right. Going from three kids to four kids wasn’t as hard from the transition from two to three, but it was still certainly a challenge, especially since I now had two children in cloth diapers!

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The frozen foods lasted about a month, and I can’t even begin to say how much I enjoyed the convenience. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or energy to replace the frozen foods as I used them, and even as the baby grew I didn’t have the drive to spend that much time in the kitchen.

Today, a moment of inspiration hit me and I spent most of the day in the kitchen. I made 4 batches’ worth of homemade muffin mix, 2 breakfasts’ worth of freezer-friendly baked oatmeal, 2 batches of biscuits, 2 batches of pizza dough, and 4 batches of cinnamon rolls.

The biscuits were made in the food processor and cut using my shortcut, which saved a TON of time! I promise, square biscuits are just as tasty.

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These two are (unbaked) oven oatmeal. One will be used tomorrow, the other will be stashed in the freezer.

When I finished my work and pulled everything back out to take pictures, I realized that my pizza dough was put into containers that were much too small! Oops.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the fruits of today’s labor!

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Repurposing Containers

One of my major goals is reducing my dependency on commercial products. This means making things myself when I can, reducing packaging waste when I can, and reusing items as much as possible. Many different containers are useful and can be re-purposed. I save containers from lunch meat, sauce jars, and the containers from coffee creamer. Oatmeal canisters can also be useful:

An oatmeal canister is the perfect size for an 11-cup batch of muffin mix!

You can also use a small container to store bulk ingredients in more manageable amounts – I refill a small bottle of oil from a gallon jug.

I use cat litter buckets for EVERYTHING. They’re 5-gallon buckets and can be used in the garden, as a mop bucket, as improvised chicken nest boxes, to hold homemade laundry detergent, and many other uses I can’t remember at the moment. Large, sturdy containers are wonderful!