Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Days of Freezer Cooking (Day 3)

If you’re like me you already have a drawer full (really more like a cupboard full) of recipes.  Why do you need more?  Well,  some things fare better in the freezer than others.  Wanna try a science experiment—see what happens to lettuce or a cucumber in the freezer.  Cooked whole wheat pasta just disintegrates and leaves a grainy texture in the dish.  I want you to be successful with your first freezer cooking adventure, so lets start with some tried and true dishes.  Fortunately, freezer cooking is not a new concept—there a plenty of books and Internet sources .


Once-a-Month Cooking

Mimi Wilson & Mary Beth Lagerborg

This is the book that started it all for me.  I heard Mimi speaking on Focus on the Family more than a decade ago and ordered her book.  Once a Month cooking has gone through several editions and new recipes have been added each time.  In the latest version the focus seams to be on freezing recipes that can be cooked in the crockpot on serving day.  We’ll talk about this more tomorrow on planning strategies, but just note that OAMC uses the “big cooking day” method.  This means that the grocery lists and assembly instructions will enable you two freeze two or four weeks of different dinner entrees—no duplication, in one cooking day.  If you family just won’t it one of the dishes, you’ll have to manually remove its ingredients from the shopping list.  On the other hand, if your family loves one of the dishes, they’ll have to wait until you prepare that plan again.   
The book is very detailed for the newbie freezer cook.  In addition to the grocery shopping list is a list of staples they expect you to have on hand.  Then comes the list of freezer containers, how many and what with what dishes they’ll be used.  There is a list of tasks to be done the day before cooking day, at the start of cooking day and step by step instructions on the order of assembling dishes broken down by protein type.  Each recipe has an ingredient list, cooking instructions, a summary of processes (chop, grate, etc), freezer container to use, and suggested side dishes.
Some of my favorite recipes from this book (your edition may vary) are:
  • Chicken Broccoli
  • Chicken & Rice pilaf
  • Pizza Roll-ups
  • Ravioli Soup

30 Day Gourmet’s  Big Book of Freezer Cooking

Nanci Slagle and Carol Santee

Right away I like this book because it has color photos of each recipe!  This is the latest cookbook by 30 Day Gourmet (older editions were called the Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet) .    The first section of this book helps you decide which cooking day method will work for you (big cooking, mini-batch, etc).  Since you decide the method, they can’t provide grocery lists or assembly instructions for you, but they do provide blank worksheets for you to fill out yourself:  A tally sheet to add up ingredients needed,  a shopping list, pre-assembly day and assembly day instructions, a recipe inventory checklist, and a sheet to figure out multiples of a recipe.
Recipes are organized by categories:  Beef, Poultry, Pork & Fish, Meatless, Breads & Breakfast, Soups & Sandwiches, Sides & Salads, Sauces & Marinades, Appetizers, Snacks, Desserts
As you can see, these folks believe freezer cooking is for more than just the main entree at dinner.  (It was their holiday cookbook that allowed me to freeze my entire Thanksgiving meal when Schnickelfritz was born).  This is where I get most of my recipes—in fact I’ve purchased their software which will create shopping lists and assembly day instruction reports for me based on the recipes I select.  Some of my favorite recipes are:
  • Wet Tacos
  • Spaghetti Pie
  • Cheddar Broccoli Soup
  • Parmesan Parsley Chicken
FYI: I just got my monthly newsletter for 30DG and a 2nd edition of the cookbook is coming out.  This new book will be paperback, not hardback and the pictures are B/W not color.  If I were interested in purchasing it, I’d do so quickly and look for a first edition copy. 

Other Books

I’ve checked out many other freezer cooking  and copied a recipe or two.  Most of these books list the original recipe and then list the ingredients needed to make multiples of of the recipe.  Here are a few titles I recommend:  Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the FreezerDream DinnersFrozen AssetsFreezer Pleasers.


Quick Cooking magazine always had a section called Freezer Pleasers.  This is where I found my Big Batch Beef Sauce recipe and all its variations.  I have noticed that the submissions tend toward the desserts.  This magazine is now called Simple & Delicious and I don't know if they still have the freezer section.  Check out old copies at your library or perhaps you can find the compilation book—Taste of Home’s Freezer Pleasers.  I’ve also seen Taste of Home Freezer recipe mini magazines near the check out stand at the grocery store ( I like these because they have pictures of each recipe).


30 Day Gourmet

This is the website home of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking folks.  You can purchase their book and software.  They also have several specialized ebooks for download – Vegetarian, Lunches, Holidays, Desserts, Lowfat, and Budget meals.  Sign up for their newsletter and they’ll send you recipes every month.  Purchase one of their books and you’ll find a password to unlock more recipes and downloads of their worksheets in the members area.   Their message boards is a place to ask questions or share assembly day stories with others.

Once a Month Mom

I just came across this site while researching my 5 Days of Freezer Cooking and I must say I'm impressed!  She doesn't just provide one 30 day meal plan each month, but SIX!  In addition to traditional meals you can find plans for Whole Foods, Diet, Gluten/Diary Free,  Baby Foods, and Vegetarian meals.  You can print out grocery lists, recipe cards, even labels for your storage containers that list the recipe, serving day instructions and nutrition (they are designed to be printed on Avery labels but I don't know how well these will stick in the freezer).  I'll be checking this site out more thoroughly.  I also noticed that they're always looking for test cooks.

30 Day Cafe

This website combines a few ideas--freezer cooking, crockpot/slow cooker meals, and canning/preserving.  There's a free downloadable collection of forms to help you organize your menu and assembly day.  Most of the recipes have photos.

Your Own Recipes

Freezer cooking doesn't mean giving up you family favorites.  Sometime when you make your specialty, take one serving and wrap it well and place it in the freezer.  After a week or so, take the dish out, defrost it and reheat it.  If it tastes all right and the texture is still good, you may have a candidate for a freezer dish.  Even if its not right you may be able to assemble parts of the dish uncooked and finish the job on serving day.  I have a Mexican Lasagna dish that falls into this category--if I assemble it complete the tortillas in the middle absorb too much liquid and fall apart.  I can make the meat mixture and freeze it alone though.  When I want to cook Mexican Lasagna I just thaw the meat and layer it up.

Okay, if your following along you know your reasons for freezer cooking, you've planned you assembly method and now you know where to find some recipes.  Come back tomorrow for Assembly Day (or better yet sign up to follow Ozark Ramblings). 

Until tomorrow then,  check out some of the other "5 Days of...." topics by clicking below.



Alyson Brown said...

I love freezer cooking. My favorite book so far is 30 Day Gourmet Big Book of Freezer Cooking. I love how it has the worksheets and the recipes!

Vickie said...

I've always been intimidated with freezer cooking. As I read your posts this week...I'm getting braver and anxious to give it a try.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...