Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Days of Freezer Cooking (Day 1)

FC day 1  
Benjamin Franklin had it wrong.  Death and taxes aren’t the only certainties in life.  Any wife or mother will tell you the third certain thing is someone asking “What’s for supper?”   Everyone needs to eat, but how we go about preparing meals for our families can vary widely.  Do you throw open the cupboards at 4 pm and hope to be inspired?  Perhaps your the planning sort that pulls out the cookbook and the grocery inserts from the paper and chooses the meals for the week?  Do you like to cook or do you hate it?  This week I’d like to share with everyone the concept of freezer cooking.  Today I’ve got four good reasons why it can be a benefit to you. 

Freezer Cooking can save you moneybag_of_money

  In these tough economic times, I’m pleased to announce that freezer cooking will save you money!  If you have a dinner you can pull out of the freezer that means you don’t have to order pizza in or head to the drive thru.  Have you checked the prices lately?   A pizza for a family of four runs $18-$20 (and that’s not counting the tip for the delivery man).  Last year I figured out the cost for ingredients for a home made pizza at under $1.27.  The remaining  cost is for the convenience of not cooking yourself (or perhaps the cost for not planning ahead).
Beyond the savings of home vs restaurant, you can take advantage of bulk purchases or store sales.  A can of crushed tomato sauce at my local Walmart is $.59   for  8 oz or  7.4 cents per ounce.   I can buy a #10 can (96 oz) of crushed tomatoes for  $2.79.    That works out to just under 3 cents per ounce--less than half the cost!!    When Thanksgiving rolls around and turkeys go on sale I buy the biggest one I can find.  What doesn’t get eaten at the feast is used in freezer meals that call for cooked, chopped chicken.  You can plan the same way with ground beef sales around the summer picnicking holidays. 

Freezer cooking can be a real time saver.

Mary Hunt gave the best analogy when I attended her freezer cookiold_pocket_watchng lecture at the Indiana Association of Home Educators:  Imagine you needed to wash and iron a laundry basket full of shirts.  You don’t take one shirt, throw it in the washer, move it to the dryer, iron it, and then return to the basket to repeat the steps with the next shirt.  Half the work (or more) in cooking is the preparation and clean up.  If you make enough meatloaf to fill two pans, serve one, and freeze the other you’ve made two meals but only have to goush (that’s a culinary term for squish it in your hands) the meat and clean the bowl once.  Now imagine expanding your mega-cooking session to prepare a week’s worth of meals, or more.  Two of my favorite freezer cooking resources are Once a Month Cooking and 30 Day Gourmet.  Imagine the satisfaction of having a month’s worth of dinners in the freezer.  I feel like I’ve gained 4 extra hours to my day when I know in the morning the dinner’s already taken care of.   Even if I have some additional prep work before I pop dinner in the oven, I know I’m coming out ahead.  One of my favorite recipes is Big Batch Beef Sauce.  I make 7-8 meal servings at a time and store it in quart freezer bags.  When I thaw one I can use it as the base for several dishes: spaghetti, chili, taco salad, shepherds pie, etc.  Sometimes I think that even better than saving time is saving the hassle of trying to figure out what meal I can put on the table.

Freezer cooking can prepare you for a rainy day

umbrella_with_raindrops_falling_0515-0908-1915-3013_SMU We all have those days or weeks when freezer meals are the only way a home cooked meal can happen.  Maybe you’re in charge of VBS or the Easter pageant.  Maybe you’ve got a garden full of tomatoes that need to be picked and canned.  Or maybe you’re like me when my Schnickelfritz was born: I had a newborn baby, two weeks later I had surgery and my hand was immobilized and my husband had double knee surgery.  Yes, we did have friends bring over a few dinners when the baby arrived, but who ever thinks you might need help with breakfasts?  Fortunately I knew all these events were going to occur so in the prior month I was cooking and freezing up a storm.   Everyone was so amazed that I was able to host Thanksgiving dinner during that period.  We may have eaten on paper plates, but the meal itself went into the freezer when everyone else was thinking about carving their Halloween pumpkins. 

Freezer cooking can allow you to practice hospitality

H30-Hospitality-&-Welcome Speaking of holiday meals or having babies, don’t you wish you had a meal you could just pull out the the freezer to share with a new mom, or a new neighbor, or to express your sympathy to a family suffering a loss?  Maybe instead of bringing it over piping hot, you could deliver a frozen meal with cooking instructions and then they can use it according to their needs (I know when Schnickelfritz was born we had plenty of leftovers in the fridge when another new meal was delivered).  Perhaps you could organize a freezer meal shower for a mom with lots of other kids that needs more free time than more baby clothes?  I’ve even heard of a group of church ladies that met regularly to be a blessing for a fellow church member with muscular dystrophy.   She supplied the grocery list and the money and they shopped and prepared the meals in individual serving portions for her to heat up.  Talk about being God’s hands and feet for someone in need!

So have I convinced you to give freezer cooking a try?  You’ll want to check back tomorrow when I share how to go about planning an assembly day.   In fact, why not use one of the means in the right column to follow Ozark Ramblings.  Until tomorrow you can check out one of the other Homeschool Crew's "5 Days of..."  topics by clicking below.


Melissa said...

love, love - and need, need! :)

Can't wait to hear more!

Kym Thorpe said...

Looking forward to the rest of your posts! I have long been convinced that freezer cooking is something I *should* do, but actually getting it done is the challenge.

Missouri Mama said...

Kym check out tomorrow's post. You don't have to cook 30 meals in one day. You can simply double up tonights dinner and freeze the extra one. It will add up faster than you think.

Tim said...

Ugh! I can't wait until tomorrow! I hate to wait. I want recipes NOW! Just kidding. I really can't wait until tomorrow though!

Vickie said...

Oh this is going to be an amazing week of posts!!!! I know I NEED to be more diligent about freezer cooking. I'm worried about not packaging it correctly when freezing it and then it would be a waste anyway then I'd be scrambling for something for dinner again.

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