Out there in blogland, you wouldn’t have to search far to find posts about cooking meals ahead and freezing them. In fact, many posts you find talk about setting aside one day a week or every few weeks to cook and freeze meals. There are even sites that will show you how to make enough meals for a whole month.
I do occasionally have all day meal prep sessions. Perogy making days are actually two day events. The evening before to cook and prep the filling and extra potatoes for the dough and the second day for actually making the perogies. Our last perogy day yielded almost 400 perogies. As well, Kalua Pork needs to have a day set aside for it in order to prep the four to five roasts and then after the cooking to shred the roasts and bag them for freezing.
But those kind of marathon cooking sessions aren’t something that I have any desire to do very often. Many years ago I discovered a cook and freeze ahead meal solution that works best for our family that I can and do practice on a regular basis.
If you don’t have the time or desire to set aside an entire day to prepare, cook and then freeze meals, you can achieve the same result simply by cooking extra a few nights per week. Sometimes will I freeze an entire meal that then just needs to be popped into the microwave or oven to be reheated. But because I really do like to cook supper every night, most often I freeze items separately so that I have the option of using them to make meal prep faster.
For example, on Sunday I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker which I then served for supper with rice and veggies. Now there’s no way the three of us could eat a whole 5 ½ lb chicken at one meal, but I cooked a whole chicken with the intention that I would have lots leftover to shred and freeze for use in future meals such as enchilladas, chicken stir fries or fried rice.
And rather than cook only the amount of rice we’d eat that meal, I made an extra large batch of rice so that I’d have enough to freeze. It doesn’t take that much longer to cook 12 cups of rice than it does to cook 3 cups. When I cook ahead like this, not only am I saving in future prep time, I’m saving the extra energy it would take to cook 4 separate batches of rice because from 12 cups, I had enough for Sunday supper and for three packages of rice with approximately 3 c per bag.
Those bags of rice are now ready and waiting in the freezer to be used in soup, chili, fried rice or simply as a stand alone side dish, perhaps dressed up with a few spices or some veggies.
This can be done with all sorts of meals. Stews, soups and chili are easy meals to double or triple for freezing. Or even something as simple as when you’re making tacos. Instead of browning 1 lb of meat, brown 2 or 3 and then freeze the extra to use next time you make tacos or burritos or when making a quick lunch of taco salad.
In addition to saving time and energy, an added bonus of cooking and freezing ahead is that when you know you have entire meals or the individual components needed to throw together a quick and nutritious meal, you’ll be less tempted to order take out or go the fast food route, which depending how often you resist that urge, could be a huge money saver.