On December 24, 2016 by Kim
We have five easy freezer cooking tips to save time on freezer cooking day, and get you in and out of the kitchen in record time!
We have five easy tips to save time on freezer cooking day, and get you in and out of the kitchen in record time! There is no doubt that serving freezer meals saves you time. You eliminate your 5 o’clock rush to prep dinner, and you free yourself of clean up duty after dinner. Win-win. We try to make freezer cooking as easy as possible with our resources, but there is no doubt that OAMC is an undertaking. It isn’t easy to be on your feet cooking all day long, and sometimes you just don’t have all day. Crying babies, after work exhaustion, or a packed schedule may leave you wondering how to save time on freezer cooking day. But easy freezer cooking CAN be done! Let us show you how, so you can start saving more time.
Save Time by Choosing Fewer Recipes
Simply put, the fewer recipes you have on your menu, the shorter your cooking day will be. Your first stop should be our archive of Mini Menus. Each contains 5-6 recipes, which will be doubled to give you 10-12 meals. It may not seem like it, but having 10 dinners in the freezer can make a huge difference. Imagine if you were able to cook 1/3 less dinners this month just by spending a few hours in the kitchen?
The typical Mini Menu will take 6-10 hours to complete (including all your shopping and prep work), but some are designed to be completed even faster. We will give you some suggestions for quick Mini Menus throughout this post, but if you take a look at our archives, you will find a great variety. Mini Menus are either shortened versions of our full menus (all types) or have a specific theme (various ingredients, seasons, occasions, etc.)
If none of the curated menus meet your needs, members can create their own custom mini menus using Menu Builder! Whatever your needs are, you can create a fully customized menu to meet your needs and your schedule. My favorite method is to create a mini menu that uses our pantry staples.
Save Time By Choosing Recipes with Similar Ingredients
As you are looking for a menu or creating one for yourself, keep in mind that choosing recipes with similar ingredients will shorten your cooking day overall. First, you are shortening your shopping list, which always saves you from having to trek down every single grocery aisle.
Second, overlapping ingredients can shorten your prep time. For example, if you choose several recipes that use cooked ground beef, you can throw the whole amount into the slow cooker the night before cooking day, instead of having to prep several different kinds of meat several different ways. If you choose recipes with overlapping produce ingredients, you can shorten your chopping list and reduce the number of times that you have to rinse or wash your tools.
I know that no one really wants to eat the same type of meat night after night, but if every 2 or 3 recipes overlap ingredients a little bit, you can save yourself a lot of time without sacrificing variety. Also, spices can make a huge difference in the taste of a dish, even when there are similar ingredients. Think tacos, meatloaf, and stuffed pepper soup – all have similar ingredients, but taste very different! You can also space these meals out through out the month so that you aren’t eating beef 3 times in one week.
Here are some mini menu suggestions:
- Spring Chicken Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Spring Ground Beef Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Fall Pumpkin Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Fall Apple Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Soup Mini Menu Vol. 1
Save Time by Choosing Recipes with Fewer Ingredients
Again, the shorter your ingredient list, the shorter your shopping trip and the shorter your prep and chopping list. Recipes with fewer ingredients also help to shorten your cooking time on your big day. On your easy freezer cooking day, you don’t want to be spending lots of time measuring and pouring 20 different spices or preparing many different types of vegetables different ways. Typically recipes with short ingredient lists are cooked all together in the same pot or in the slow cooker, so this also helps cut down your clean up time by using less dishes.
Try these mini menus or create your own:
- Winter Traditional Mini Menu Vol. 8 (Each recipe has 5 ingredients or less!)
- Winter Traditional Mini Menu Vol. 9 (Each recipe has 5 ingredients or less!)
- Winter Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1 (All 30 minute meals!)
- Winter Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 2 (All 30 minute meals!)
Save Time by Choosing Dump and Go Recipes
We categorize each of our recipes by the cooking method on your big cooking day and the cooking method on serving day. We love the category that we call “Dump and Go” recipes. These are recipes that require little to no cooking on your cooking day. You will probably have to do some chopping, and you may have to precook meat or another ingredient. But you aren’t completing the actual cooking until serving day when you throw the recipe in the crock pot, the oven, or onto the grill. Some people call these “throw and go” recipes or “dump” recipes, since all you really have to do is measure and “dump” the ingredients into the freezer bag.
We always choose at least 3 dump and go recipes for each full menu to keep things moving for you, but members can choose to customize any menu to include more dump and go meals or even ALL dump and go recipes (just search by “cook day type” using the pull down menu in Menu Builder).
We have even created some mini menus for easy freezer cooking:
- Fall Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Fall Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 2
- Fall Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 3
- Summer Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Summer Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 2
- Spring Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Diet Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Paleo Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1 (Whole30 Compliant)
- Winter Real Food Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 1
- Winter Dump and Go Mini Menu Vol. 2
Save Time by Prepping Ahead and Recruiting Helpers
Now that you have chosen or created your easy freezer cooking menu, here are a few practical tips for efficiency on cooking day.
First, we always recommend that you do ALL of your shopping and prep work (chopping, precooking meats, cooking or assembling add on recipes) the night BEFORE your big cooking day. It is simply exhausting (and sometimes near impossible) to do all three steps – shopping, prepping, and cooking – all in one day. Have you ever watched a cooking show and thought, “Boy it is so easy for that cook to just throw that recipe all together.” Well, did you ever notice that all of the ingredients are right at hand, pre-choppped and pre-measured just ready to assemble? That is what we are going for! Make it easy on yourself by prepping ahead, and you will fly through your cooking day.
Second, if at all possible, recruit some help! This may look different for each cook and family. Some will need to line up a baby sitter to keep the kiddos out of the way while you cook. Or maybe your kids are old enough to actually be of help. Let them help chop and prep or let them help measure and dump those easy recipes.
I personally love cooking with a friend as it makes the task much more enjoyable, and you can divvy up tasks and shorten your time in the kitchen. Maybe you and your spouse both have a busy work schedule, but you can each complete part of the cooking day. Maybe one of you shops and preps and the other completes all the cooking. Or maybe you shop and prep together and then split the cooking list in half. Any way you choose to do it, many hands will help make light the work.