On November 30, 2011 by Kelly
The following is one of two guest posts about using your refrigerator freezer to do the Once A Month Meals menus. Rebekah from Bex Built A Family gives us a look at how she did her first OAMM menu using her apartment refrigerator freezer. We want you to know that you CAN do it and have some helpful tips on how.
If you’ve been wanting to try a Once a Month Meals menu, but your lack of freezer space has stopped you, I’m here to help! With a little bit of shuffling, juggling, and planning, you can still do an OAMM menu with just a standard refrigerator-freezer combo. The first menu I did was the whole foods menu from back in May of 2011. This menu required a lot of fridge space and freezer space (of course), but I was still able to do it in my small apartment. My family consists of three people, two adults and one toddler. I decided to go ahead and cook the menu for 4 people, which worked out perfectly for us.
Now that you have an idea of how much food I make monthly, lets just jump right into my tips for making it work! My first piece of advice is to start with an empty freezer. Before I start a menu, I use up all the food I have in the freezer. It’s helpful to take an inventory of what you have (if you have a lot) and keep that on the outside of the freezer. Make meals using only what you have until everything is gone. Once you get into a routine of freezer meals, this part will be easy! After your freezer is cleared, you’re ready to cook. The next thing you have to be careful of is to not overload your freezer. I’ve done this myself on accident once or twice. Stuffing a bunch of room temp food into a small freezer might make it shut down, so I do a juggling act.
Here’s how my juggling act goes:
• Take all the ingredients from the fridge and begin my cooking day.
• As dishes are complete, let them cool to room temp, then put in the fridge to chill. • Chill all meals overnight in the fridge.
• The next morning, flash freeze items that need it. As they are frozen, move them to one side of the freezer to make room for more.
• Finally, move all the rest of your food from the fridge to the freezer.
By doing it that way, I have enough room to flash freeze items, don’t have to worry about spoilage, and also don’t have to worry about my freezer shutting down! If you are cooking for 4 people, you should be able to fit a whole menu in the freezer, but it will be tight. My first try, I wound up with two dishes that I couldn’t fit in the freezer, so I had to learn to use my space better.
Which brings me to my last piece of advice. Be sure to flash freeze things like soup, stews, salsa’s etc in freezer bags. Lay them flat so you can stack and stuff between other items later. Ziploc bags take up much less space than Ziploc containers, so use them as much as possible. If you have a vacuum sealer, even better! It might sound silly, but you can take casseroles back out of the pans after they have frozen solid, vacuum seal them and then put them back in the freezer. Wash and save your pans so you can put the casserole back in to cook. I hope this will help anyone who has been afraid to try Once A Month Meals because of their freezer space, or lack-there-of. Even those of us in small homes or apartments can do it!
Rebekah is a full-time working mom whose passions are crafting and cooking for her family. Coming from the heart of central California, she’s all about cooking with what’s in season and grown locally. When she isn’t working at her day job as a graphic designer, taking care of her toddler, making crafts for her online shop, or cooking up a storm, she’s blogging at Bex Built A Family!