Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Preparing for a big freezer cooking session

There are lots of blogs and websites out there with advice about freezer cooking. Lots of them emphasise the concept of Once a Month Cooking (OAMC).

I have to say if I worked full-time out of the home I think I would embrace this concept pretty enthusiastically. If no one gets home till 5pm or 6pm then I can see having a pre-made meal defrosted and ready to heat up makes perfect sense, especially when you also have to juggle homework, family time, baths, walking the dog, laundry and who knows what else.

As it stands I work from home so things are a bit different and with a bit of planning I can pull something together. Last night I was home at 5.45pm and we were eating a lasagna by 6.45pm because the meat was defrosted and I had noodles and a jar of sauce.

Anyway, the point is I still like having meals in my freezer, maybe not a month's worth but enough to get you out of an emergency and avoid take-away. (This month we have to work around new clients, my self-publishing a book, my husband being extra busy at work, my daughter changing her schedule and me attending the Sydney Writers' Festival for two days.)

The easiest way to tackle this method is to ask yourself a few basic questions.

1. What do we like to eat? Honestly there is no point making bulk casseroles if no one will eat them.
2. Is it worth the effort? Does it save me money?  For example I find it is easier and often cheaper to buy pre-made burger patties at the supermarket so I'm not going to waste my time making those babies.
3. What can I half-do to get dinner underway? What if you bag some chicken breasts in marinade - great to grill for salads, stir fry, kebabs? What if you make a double batch of pizza dough and freeze half? What if you make double batches of bolognese or meatballs (you don't have to make the lasagna  but you can then turn the sauce into lasagna, stuffed potato, baked pasta etc pretty quickly).
4. How much of something do you want to eat?  Don't make 10 litres of pumpkin soup if you will get bored with it before it's gone.
5. What ingredients do you have that need using? Extra eggs = quiche or zucchini slice. Extra potatoes might be twice baked potato or a potato-topped fish pie.
6. How can I make it easier? What about a recipe mix for the crock pot to make curry? Or a cook-in-sauce for a pasta bake?
7. What am I putting the end product in? Make sure you have containers and freezer-space or it's all just pointless.

Freezer cooking is an exercise in making your life easier. So look at it from that perspective. I never do all ground beef/mincemeat or all chicken or all ham because that doesn't help me we don't like the repetition. Look at your family, what you like, what your needs are and how you can make your life easier.

Those are a few tips. Do you have any special techniques for this style of cooking.


  1. I like to make some things ahead for the freezer. A tip that I have is to be sure to label the food that you package.

    I like to package some things in single size servings (like soup) so that they can be used if one of us is eating solo.

    1. That's good advice about labelling Elaine. Nothing worse than trying to work out what's in the container down the track.