Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nesting: Freezer Cooking


There is so much unknown when welcoming a new little one into your family. When will the little bundle make their entrance? How smooth will delivery, and thus recovery, be? What will the adjustment be like for the entire family? How long will it take for everyone to settle into a new normal?

All of these unknowns make freezer cooking a huge priority on my nesting agenda. While I do know that friends and church family will bless us with meals for the first week or two after I get home from the hospital, I don't know how long it will be before I will have the time and energy to start serious meal preparation again. 

Even if I am feeling stellar and managing three littles with great finesse {ha!}, it is always nice on a busy day to be able to pull a homemade dinner out of the freezer and not have to think, plan, or prepare any further. 

Starting at around 35 weeks I plan on cooking double for dinner, 2-3 nights a week. This is my biggest secret for getting more meals done without adding too much to my plate. Who has time for an entire freezer cooking day? Since I'm already making a meal anyway, I just double it and throw half into the freezer. When meal planning I make sure to pick freezer friendly dishes- lasagna, shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie, and lots of soups and chilis.  

I do the same with baking. Often Saturday is the day that I bake bread, a batch of bagels, muffins, etc. So I double up yet again and add ziploc bags of baked goodies to my freezer for quick and easy breakfasts. 

I'm typing this post two days shy of 39 weeks, and I've managed to stockpile about two weeks worth of dinners, with a few breakfast goodies as well. As long as this baby keeps I'll continue cooking double!

A few helpful hints:
  • Use a straw to stuck all of the air out of your freezer bags before sealing completely.
  • Lay soups, chilis and casseroles as flat as possible {I smooth them out carefully and stick them on a cookie sheet for the first few hours of freezing} to take up less space. After they freeze in a flat block I stack them sideways next to each other, or in stacks. It is amazing how many meals you can fit it into the small freezer above your refrigerator this way! 
  • Foil pans are a must for freezer cooking. Not only will your freezer meal save you time cooking, it also means no dishes later. These also stack neatly and take up less space. I use mine for casseroles, pies, and the like.

Here are some freezer-friendly online recipes that our family approves:

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. This recipe tastes exactly like what I would order at our local Indian restaurant. While it is time consuming to prepare, one batch usually makes plenty for my family to eat now and freeze for later. We get one dinner and a few lunches out of it, then I toss the rest in a freezer ziploc to pull out later. It is my husband's favorite.

Crock Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup. Mixing it up a little from your average chili. You could either freeze before or after cooking in the slow cooker, whatever suits. 

Individual Frozen Pizzas. I love that these take up less room in my freezer! They are handy to pull out for a lazy dinner or a fancier lunch. Just use your favorite dough recipe and follow the freezing instructions. 

Sausage and White Bean Slow Cooker Soup. This soup is incredibly delicious. I can't wait to pull mine out of the freezer on a chilly autumn day!

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits. Take breakfast up a notch with this super flavorful, perfect for husband-and-kids-on-the-go handheld savory. My husband is kind of in heaven when I send him to work with a few of these in the morning. 

Helpful Links:
My Postpartum Freezer Cooking Plan - This post from Jami was my main motivation for freezer cooking this pregnancy! She has a huge list of recipes and ideas. It's a must read!


My Feeding the Family board on Pinterest is the place I collect all of the delicious dinner ideas I need for meal planning inspiration. 


CLICK HERE to see the rest of the posts in this series, and get some serious nesting motivation!

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